166: How to Upgrade Your Thermal Envelope Above the Building Code

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. In this episode, I walk through the minimum requirements of the New Zealand building code Read More …

143: Why is foam such a good building material?

Many people have concerns about using foam (polystyrene) because of the chemicals used to make the stuff. In fact some of those chemicals are on the Living Building Challenge Red List. So why is foam such a good building material? Foam is a Great Insulator It’s all about R-value. Foam is an incredible thermal insulator. For Read More …

My Insulation Experiment

Overhead, the rain pelted down on the metal roof just above my head. I later found out that it was a record rain storm for Auckland. I believed it. The roof of the circa 1920s house I was crouched in bore an almost identical resemblance to the construction and thermal performance of the simple corrugated steel Read More …

119: Green Home Building

Kelly Hart is an amazing thinker and innovator. He’s passionate about the environment and generous with the resources and learning he shares. Notes for the episode are to come. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know: Green Home Building Kelly Hart’s amazing hub of resources and links: GreenHomeBuilding.com Source of alternative house plans: DreamGreenHomes Read More …

116: Cut Heat Loss at the Slab Edge

Concrete slab edge insulation is one of my hot topics. It seems to spark debate, firstly about if it’s worth doing, then secondly about how to do it. I recently spoke with manufacturer and experienced business owner, Mike Peters of Fort Wayne, Indiana who’s come up with an easy solution for builders to cut heat Read More …

103: It’s All About Airtightness

Derek Ward’s strength is the science that connects good design with good performance. Clioma House specialises in ‘airtightness and effective insulation’. They help bridge the gap between the drawing board and the construction site. Call the Experts, Early The sooner you think about how much you want to do in relation to performance, the cheaper Read More …

101: Vernacular Construction

Episode Foundations (the bottom line at the top) Invest up front in a good designer and you’ll save during construction. Vernacular construction is about designing and building appropriately for the local conditions. For a sustainable home, focus on insulation and ventilation.

How 475 can help you achieve a high performance home

So, you’ve decided you’d like a really good home. One that’s comfortable, healthy and energy efficient. That’s great, but unfortunately it’s not (yet) standard practice. Hopefully you can find a good designer to help (try this list if you like). But you’ll also need some good, non-standard products. This week I spoke with Ken Levenson Read More …

Concrete Slab Edge Insulation Update

Updated: See my updated list at the end of this article for currently available products for slab edge, perimeter insulation. BRANZ recently released their fifth edition of the House Insulation Guide. Changes in this edition include ‘waffle pod’ concrete slab systems, and a concrete slab edge insulation update. I discussed the importance of insulating the edge of Read More …