Approach delivers best of both worlds
Queenstown architects Team Green are committed to creating, the most energy efficient, comfortable yet beautiful homes in New Zealand.
They truly believe that beauty and energy efficiency can work in harmony, and the outcome can be extraordinary.
Architect and certified passive house designer Sian Taylor believes people don’t need to live in freezing cold houses that consume huge amounts of energy.
By designing new homes using passive house design principles, Sian, her architect partner Mark Read and Team Green are proving that you can create beautiful unique homes that are also incredibly energy efficient.
Sian says New Zealand’s building standards are “woefully behind” those of other countries, especially those of Europe and North America.
Homes designed and built to NZ building code minimum standards are often cold and costly to heat in the winter and can overheat in the summer.
“This is because the NZ Building Code assumes that all of New Zealand has the same climate. But, the climate in Nelson is quite different to that of Queenstown or Central Otago,” she says.
And whereas in other countries the standards are increased every four years, New Zealand’s building code hasn’t changed since the 1990’s. “That’s why a lot of houses in Queenstown still have single glazing,” she says.
Team Green have a company minimum standard of energy efficiency which is much better than the building code – in some cases by even four or five times.
Sian says by simple choices at the design stage client’s can decrease a home’s heat energy bill by up to 90% in future, improving their quality of life, health and comfort, while adding calculable and easily definable value to the home.
The World Health Organisation recommends consistent temperatures between 18 and 24°C and relative humidity levels between 40 and 60%.
Most New Zealand homes, even the newer homes are not achieving these minimum standards, she says.
Passive House design is an internationally recognised energy-efficient design approach developed in Germany more than 35 years ago.
It has only been available in New Zealand in the past six years and Team Green are currently the only architects in Queenstown offering it, says Taylor.
“The idea is to build in such a way that we best utilise the site and local climate to capture energy from the sun, and then retain and distribute that energy throughout the building.
“We achieve this through not only using insultation, but designing an airtight house, installing a balanced heat distribution-ventilation system, and using triple glazed windows, amongst other techniques. What this means is it significantly reduces the need for additional heat sources (like fires, heat pumps or radiators), and provides a comfortable even temperature throughout the house.”
Sian says “Kiwis have become so accustomed to having to turn on the heat pump in the morning, or having to light and manage a fire.
“We heat some rooms and not others, our bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways are often freezing cold. But it doesn’t have to be like that, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth to achieve.”
“We design in line with our client’s requirements, how they want to live in their homes, do they want big glass windows, indoor/ outdoor living, do they want cooler bedrooms but warmer living areas? All of this is achievable.
People often ask us, does airtight mean we can’t open windows and doors, , but they absolutely can. There is no compromise in how people want to live their lives.”
“We have one client in Cromwell who still wanted a log burner in the house. This is a common request, people love the ambieance and radiating heat they provide, and we can accommodate that.
“But when we asked how often it was used, they said 4 or 5 times a year. Incredible right, in one of the coldest places in New Zealand, this house has it’s fire light about once a month over winter.”
It achieves this by using free, renewable sources of energy such as sun and wind to provide household heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting, there by reducing or removing the need for mechanical heating or cooling.
Using passive design can reduce temperature fluctuations, improve indoor air quality and make a home drier and more enjoyable to live in.
But it’s not all about energy efficiency, Team Green still want to design beautiful houses as well. They are proving that the two can live in unison, and the outcome can be incredible.
In 2015 their Dalefield Guest House won a New Zealand Institute of Architecture Award, and in 2017 their Slopehill Road Country House won as well, with judges commenting that the living area was “wonderfully calm within a beautifully proportioned space” “At the end of the day it’s about listening to our clients, understanding what their vision is, and how they want to live their lives, and then designing them a beautiful unique home, that’s comfortable and healthy to live in,” Sian says.
“The biggest thrill we get is seeing how happy our customers are in their homes, and how surprised many are at what we have been able to achieve”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Paul Duncan Roofing Limited