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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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Award winning Passive house built by Harley Builders

House of the Year Award 2016

Harley Builders are proud to announce we have won the Sustainable Lifestyle Award and a Silver Medal at the recent Registered Master Builders Canterbury House of the Year Competition – Category – Carters $1 million – $2 million.  The build was for Canterbury’s first ever Certified Passive House.

This Fendalton home officially maintains a constant air temperature – with no heating or cooling required. That means extremely low power bills and very little impact on the planet – despite a generous 347sqm footprint.

Equipped with solar panels and an inverter, this home works hard while its residents relax.   A true power house, it sends any excess energy to the grid. Further eco-friendly features include hand-blown insulation, wide walls, energy-efficient windows and ventilation systems for clean, controlled air.

Winning this Quality Mark award is a significant achievement for us here at Harley Builders.  The award was given to this house because it demonstrated that sustainable building practices and energy efficiency was a significant consideration in the design process, and was incorporated with regard to the lifestyle of the client and sitting of the house.


The Award was made on overall sustainability, energy efficiency and amenity taking into account difficulty of some products over others under the following headings –

Design/Dwelling Performance

Is the scale of the house sustainable in terms of its intended use:

Airflow and ventilation, design to combat overheating, control of sun and light

Effluent and storm water management, water saving, water heating

Heating efficiency, passive storage & thermal breaks

Other forms of electric generation

Product Selection

Insulation rating and glazing

Energy efficient lighting

Sustainable / recycled materials

Application and Workmanship

Quality of application and installation, attention to detail

Recycling waste material

Future Planning

The entries in each category are judged by the same judges across New Zealand. This ensures consistency throughout the country. The property is judged against a scorecard of 2000 points (1300 Workmanship and 700 Design, Style and Functionality) and we scored 82.5% of the available points.  This clearly represents an extremely high standard of building!

We would like to acknowledge

Pro Clima NZ Ltd
Wright Wire Electrical
Brewer Davidson Architecture and Design
Michael Henry Plumbing

buildnz design expo

Buildnz Canterbury Trade Show 2016

buildnz design expo

Buildnz/designex- Canterbury Trade Show 2016

Buildnz/designex is the leading trade event for the Building & Construction Industry with a solid reputation for bringing building professionals and construction industry innovators together to share ideas, showcase the latest products, and develop business relationships. buildnz/designex saves you time and money, delivering an incredible variety of new products and services to keep you up-to-date with the latest technologies across home automation, joinery, hardware, cladding, flooring, insulation, lighting, roofing, spouting, timber and everything else you need in the trade.

The show is on from Thursday 4 August to Saturday 6 August and Glenn Harley from Harley Builders will be hosting a Question and Answer session from 10 – 11.30am on the Thursday and Saturday.  Then on Saturday he will be joining Bob Burnett – Bob Burnett Architecture from 1-3.30pm for a combined Q & A session on building Energy Efficient homes in Canterbury.

Glenn will be on the Pro clima NZ stand (110E)  where his Q & A sessions will be aimed at answering questions,  and he will share his extensive knowledge and experience as the builder of Canterbury’s first Certified Passive House.

Pro clima’s airtightness and weathertightness building system, in combination with effective insulation and appropriate ventilation, creates an energy efficient, low allergen emitting, comfortable, healthy home or place of business.  Their patented system also ensures the long term effectiveness of the insulation and the structural durability of the building by protecting it from moisture damage, thereby making sure your healthy, energy efficient and eco friendly environment remains that way for many years in the future.

Harley Builders have recently won a Silver medal and the Sustainable Lifestyle Award at the Registered Master Builders House of the Year competition for building Canterbury’s first-ever Certified Passive House.  This Fendalton home officially maintains a constant air temperature of between 20 and 25 degrees celsius – with no heating or cooling required. That means extremely low power bills and very little impact on the planet – despite a generous 347sqm footprint.




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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.