Buildnz Designex

Home Style Green

I’m just back from three days at Buildnz Designex, working on the Homestar stand and I’m fairly exhausted after talking to so many interesting designers, architects, builders and loads of product suppliers.

Trade shows and expos can be a gamble. They’re expensive to attend as an exhibitor, they take time out of ‘productive work’ and are generally disruptive to all the other projects back in the office. But sometime that disruption can be a very positive thing.

Buildnz / Designex definitely felt positive for me. Perhaps I’ll feel slightly different tomorrow when the reality of un-read emails and undone tasks hits me, but for now I glad to have been there to learn about some new directions in the New Zealand building industry.

Buildnz Designex Highlights

Here are some takeaway thoughts and highlights from me about this year’s show.

Buildnz | Designex

Homestar Awareness

HomestarMore than half the people who came to our stand, had either heard of Homestar, or knew a bit about it. After a couple of years in the market place, this is a good sign for New Zealand’s own residential rating tool and some thanks need to go to Auckland Council and BRANZ.

One of the seminars running during the show was about the Auckland Unitary Plan. Homestar is mentioned in the Unitary Plan as being a proposed mandatory measure for any residential building consent with five or more dwellings. A number of designers heard this message and were obviously intrigued.

BRANZ also gave a great little plug for Homestar during it’s current science road show which is very well attended. So thanks Auckland Council and BRANZ.

New Products for New Zealand.

Knauf insulation and plasterboard made a big entrance at this year’s Buildnz / Designex.

Knauf has enjoyed a big win in Christchurch recently with an opportunity to supply product alongside incumbent GIB plasterboards. They bring a load of innovation to the market place including sound absorbing panels, textured finishes and wallboards that actually scrub the indoor air clean of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

It’ll be very interesting to see how well both Knauf plasterboards and Earthwool Insulation penetrate the market during the next 12 months.

Made in Germany

Made in Germany

German product suppliers were always going to play a big role in this year’s event. The ‘Made in Germany‘ pavilion was back, bigger and better than 2011.

We’ve spoken a lot about Passivhaus, weathertightness and general building quality recently on Home Style Green. The reality is that some German products are really very good and New Zealand consumers stand to gain a great deal from more product choice from overseas.

Highlights for me include:

  • Very high performance windows such as the glazing units used by Raglan-based company Ecowindows
  • Concrete block and reinforcing systems from Laros Technologies to eliminate thermal bridging in foundations
  • High performance vapour barriers from Pro Clima.
schoek novomur
Is Schöck Novomur® the solution I’ve been looking for to reduce thermal bridging out of edge of concrete slabs?


I met Stephen and Christina from Aridon, and got to see their product up close. Very excited to keep watching that journey over the next little while.

How can we Improve our Houses?

An overall highlight for me came from the design and architecture community. Lots of people I spoke to wanted to know the specifics about how to make better, warmer, dryer, more efficient homes for their clients. This is a super exciting question for me to be asked. It’s what I’m here for. To have lots of people starting to ask this is a very positive sign.

So after Buildnz / Designex 2013, I’m tired but inspired.

If you were at the show, what was your highlight?

If you weren’t there, is there anything specific you’d like to know about or get an opinion on?

Check out the list of exhibitors and post a question below.

Buildnz designex Podcast

Hear my thoughts about the show, in the Home Style Green Podcast, episode 38.
Home Style Green

  • Elrond Burrell

    We’ve used Schock structural thermal breaks on a Passivhaus project. Do a good job, but expensive solution if required! Better to design out the need for such a junction!

  • Phil McLean

    thanks for update. Great to see new products. Did you see anything that will save initial build cost in high performance building material?

  • Elrond Burrell

    Another interesting podcast and blog thanks Matthew.

    In terms of internal air quality and off-gassing, choosing FSC timber or other ethical suppliers won’t make any difference, although they are good to choose for other reasons. Also although plywood may off-gas to a certain degree, it would depend on how much it is exposed within the house, mostly building ply is in the structure and so isn’t likely to off-gas much into the internal spaces. More critical is the choice of finishes and soft furnishings. The “new car” smell” mainly comes from paints, stains, carpet, curtains, and upholstery – choosing natural / low VOC paints and stains is critical and natural carpets (or no carpets if suitable, even natural carpets can accumulate and harbour dust, pollen and mites etc) and natural fabrics for furniture and curtains etc is the best approach. Probably hardly an issue in NZ, but uPVC windows are popular in the UK and these will also off-gas in an unhealthy way. In any case good ventilation is also vital to ensure “pollutants” are quickly removed from the internals paces, whether this is off-gassed pollutants or just CO2 from occupation.

    I would also raise a caution about VOCs – not all VOCs are bad, eg the smell of a cut lemon is actually VOCs being emitted from the lemon – therefore a natural paint may still contain VOCs from a plant source that isn’t harmful, whereas a petrochemical based paint might well have low VOC content but still be harmful to the environment and not good for indoor air quality. So low VOC is a good starting point but sometimes it’s worth looking at the ingredients in more detail.