Home and dry

Gain­ing trac­tion over­seas, the Pas­sive House con­cept is only just be­gin­ning here, with the first of its kind near­ing com­ple­tion in Auck­land.

Element - - Architecture - Philip and Carolyn Ivanier in their ‘pas­sive’ home. Ted Baghurst By So­phie Bond

Seven months af­ter turn­ing the first sod on their Glen­dowie sec­tion, Philip and Carolyn Ivanier, are now liv­ing in their new and very spe­cial house. From the out­side it looks like a mod­ern but mod­est fam­ily home. Step inside and you may won­der what they’re spend­ing on their power bill to keep it a pleas­ant 20 de­grees on such a cold win­ter’s day.

The an­swer? About $20 a month – and pos­si­bly noth­ing – if the power gen­er­ated by the so­lar pan­els off­sets that needed by the house. That’s be­cause the Ivaniers have just built Aus­trala­sia’s first Cer­ti­fied Pas­sive House, a vir­tu­ally air-tight, highly in­su­lated abode built to ex­act­ing in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

The Cana­dian/Amer­i­can cou­ple moved to New Zealand eight years ago and Carolyn says both she and Philip were un­pre­pared for the qual­ity of Kiwi homes. “Ba­si­cally when we came here we were quite sur­prised by the dif­fi­culty of find­ing a house that was warm and dry,” she says.

Hav­ing set­tled in St He­liers, the cou­ple even­tu­ally wanted more space and started look­ing for a new home. “It was im­pos­si­ble to find some­thing that met our needs,” says Philip. “Even the ex­pen­sive, new homes had only the fire­place as a heat source and no dou­ble glaz­ing. It be­came ob­vi­ous to us that if we were go­ing to have a healthy home that met our needs and was en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, we needed to start from scratch.”

While re­search­ing ideas the Ivaniers re­alised no one had built a Cer­ti­fied Pas­sive House in New Zealand and that was all the chal­lenge en­gi­neer Philip needed.

He says in­tro­duc­ing a new way of build­ing wasn’t sim­ple, es­pe­cially when it came to ob­tain­ing nec­es­sary coun­cil con­sents. “This is new so we spent a lot of time ex­plain­ing things so we could get the coun­cil across the line.” He says work pro­cessed smoothly once Auck­land Coun­cil’s ur­ban de­sign cham­pion Ludo Camp­bell-Reid un­der­stood the con­cept and how the de­sign fits with fu­ture pri­or­i­ties for city hous­ing.

Next step was find­ing a ca­pa­ble builder and the cou­ple says Chris Fo­ley of Lux­ury Liv­ing has done an amaz­ing job. “He and his team took to the chal­lenge and we’ve built some­thing com­pletely new from the ground up,” says Philip. “Carters have also been a huge help es­pe­cially with ma­te­ri­als and sourc­ing things that haven’t been in the coun­try be­fore.”

There are over 20,000 Pas­sive Houses in Europe and an es­tab­lished math­e­mat­i­cal mod­el­ing sys­tem which analy­ses site data to pre­dict the home’s fu­ture per­for­mance be­fore it is built.

The Ivanier’s house meets the ex­act­ing stan­dards re­quired for a Cer­ti­fied Pas­sive House but they say even fol­low­ing three-quar­ters of the guide­lines would re­sult in a warm, ef­fi­cient home.

“We’ve done this for our fam­ily but we’ve also done it to show that this is a good home build­ing method for dry, healthy homes,” says Carolyn.

The nurse be­lieves pas­sive hous­ing could im­prove life for New Zealand fam­i­lies.

“If Hous­ing New Zealand was to build to 70 per cent of the stan­dard, their ten­ants who per­haps can’t af­ford heat­ing in win­ter wouldn’t have to worry about it and their kids wouldn’t end up in hospi­tal with pneu­mo­nia.”

The house’s tiny heat­ing bill will come from run­ning the im­ported ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem that re­tains 84 per cent of the heat in the house.

In or­der for the sys­tem to be so ef­fec­tive a key cri­te­rion of the Pas­sive House is air tight­ness, says Philip.

“It’s mea­sured in air changes per hour or ACH. The av­er­age Kiwi house has a read­ing of 10 ACH. To be pas­sive cer­ti­fied you have to prove that the house has no more than 0.6 ACH.”

Achiev­ing this was tricky and took weeks of test­ing. An in­frared cam­era tracked down tiny air leaks and the house’s fi­nal read­ing was an im­pres­sive 0.44 ACH.

The Ivaniers say the build was about 10 per cent more ex­pen­sive than a stan­dard house but put this down to hav­ing to source sev­eral com­po­nents from over­seas. “For any­one else want­ing to do this it would only be eas­ier from here.”

And they love the re­sult. “You walk in and it feels quiet, dry and warm. It feels like you want to stay there. It’s very com­fort­able,” says Carolyn.

Ren­der sup­plied by: Jes­sop Ar­chi­tects

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.