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Passive Solar Design Principles

In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design because, unlike active solar heating systems, it does not involve the use of mechanical and electrical devices.

See how best practice passive solar design principles come together in home design.

Contact Harley Builders today to find out more

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Indoor air quality in New Zealand

We under estimate how poor air in our homes can affect our health adversely. When planning your new home build, make it a priority to ensure your home will be healthy for you and your family!

Most urban dwellers spend around 90% of their time indoors (Kostinen et al., 2008) either at home, work or in an educational facility. When air quality is poor, the exposure to pollutants is prolonged, and the occupant’s health can be adversely affected. Indoor air quality image.png

Indoor air is generally more contaminated than outdoor air by the order of several magnitudes.

The poor quality of many New Zealand homes is causal of some significant acute and chronic health issues. Low indoor temperatures and dampness are a common theme in these.

New Zealand is leading the developed world in some of the wrong statistics.

Read the full article

Thermal Envelope

Upgrade Your Thermal Envelope

How to Upgrade Your Thermal Envelope Above the Building Code

Some good advice here – we agree you should invest as much as you can to upgrade the thermal envelope of your new-build. Put in as much insulation as you can, and invest in the best windows you can afford.

When you’re designing a new home, or getting one built, you should invest as much as you can to upgrade the thermal envelope. Put in as much insulation as you can, and invest in the best windows you can afford.

Here’s a walk through the minimum requirements of the New Zealand building code in relation to insulation, and recommend how to go beyond this bare minimum.

The Building Code is not a Target – The building code is not a target. It represents the worst house you’re legally allowed to build.

The New Zealand Building Code defines three climate zones, but for the sake of insulation, there are really only two distinctions as zones 1 and 2 get lumped together. For a standard timber or steel framed house, you need at least:

R 2.9 or 3.3 in the ceiling (North Island and South Island respectively)
R 1.0 or 2.0 in the walls (North Island South Island respectively)
R 1.3 in the floor (1.9 for a ‘heated’ floor)
R 0.26 windows

A solid construction house (for example solid timber walls or solid concrete), can get away with even less, according to the code.


Do it Once. Do it Right.

Insulation and windows are not something you’re going to want to have to replace or upgrade. I know they’re not the sexiest part of a new home, but they are the fundamentals of what will ensure a comfortable, healthy home. I always suggest to clients that they consider saving on other aspects of their home that can be easily upgraded later down the track and put as much of your budget as possible towards the best quality envelop you can possibly afford.

read the full article here


Considering building a new home

If you are considering building a new home this year – this is a must-read!

Buildings should be designed to use energy efficiently, and to cope with the stresses arising from a changing climate.

Buildings are indirectly responsible for around 20% of New Zealand’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. These emissions mostly come from using fossil fuels for heating and cooking and generating electricity for appliances and space and water heating, cooling and ventilation.

Scientists expect New Zealand’s climate to change during the rest of this century, though the impacts will vary from place to place. Changing rainfall, wind, temperature, storm and other climatic patterns will all influence building design – for example, by requiring buildings in some parts of the country to cope with stronger wind loads or more intense rainfall.

Buildings should be designed to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. Most importantly, passive design features can help to reduce energy use for heating, cooling, lighting and other activities. Over the life of a building, small gains in efficiency can add up to significant reductions in emissions.

It is not just design of new buildings that needs to be considered. Most of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 already exist, so improving the energy efficiency of the current building stock is important.

Solar radiation and UV intensity
UV intensity is expected to increase until 2015 and later gradually decrease by about 6–7% by 2030 and be 10% lower than current levels by 2070. UV radiation is currently a major cause of polymer degradation (for example, plastic, rubber, wood lignin).

The effects of climate change on solar radiation through changes in cloud levels or sunshine hours are uncertain. – Read more

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Restoration of Ironside House

Harley Builders are proud to have been involved in the restoration of Ironside House after the earthquakes. Pleased to see the owners got a Heritage award.

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Heritage Retention Award:

Winner – Ironside House

Entrant: H&H Developments

Judge Citation: The restoration of Ironside House has not just brought a prominent heritage building back to life but has been done to ensure long term sustainability as well as reinstating the heritage features of the house.

The Judges’ congratulate the owners for sensitively bringing a severely damaged building back to full use and achieving 100 percent of the new building code. This project involved carefully moving the building backwards off its original site (after removal of damaged materials) and moving it back again after constructing 200 piles driven to 7 metres and installing a 100mm concrete subfloor as well as new bearers and bracing. The work achieved on Ironside House shows that with care, innovation and determination heritage buildings can be rehabilitated and strengthened to be enjoyed long into the future.


Christchurch eco house is passive

Andrew and Katy Marriott in their “passive house”. It doesn’t require heating or cooling.

Climate change means New Zealanders have to get smarter about energy use. A Christchurch family have chipped in with a new home that’s airtight and requires almost no heating or cooling. WILL HARVIE reports.

Remember that day just before Christmas when temperatures in Christchurch soared past 36 degrees Celsius? There was little wind, people drooped and complained. There seemed to be no respite.

Over at Andrew and Katy Marriott’s new home in Fendalton, inside temperatures were a pleasant 23C. And they didn’t have air conditioning or the heatpump working in reverse. They don’t own a heat pump.

Rather the Marriotts built a “passive house” — a German technique that uses triple-glazed windows, extra thick walls, abundant insulation and other technologies to create an airtight and energy-efficient building. The result is a constant temperature — winter and summer, day and night — of 20-odd degrees.

“We wanted a low-energy house and our architect said he’s never built a passive house before and would we like to go on an adventure with him,” says Andrew Marriott. They did.

While windows are generally small, the dinning room gets plenty of natural light.

From the outside, their new build is contemporary Fendalton: a 347 square metre, four-bedroom, two-storey weatherboard house hidden down a driveway. Inside, it’s got a clean modern look with hardwood floors, timber window frames and stainless steel appliances. Don’t go looking for a composting toilet, there isn’t one.