Inspiring people to make a better place to live

Materials

Walls (and roofs and floors) of buildings have become complicated. As we've increased the level of insulation, we've created some new problems, like condensation. This has been aggravated by the addition of layers into the wall that reduce air movement. So how do you create a wall that keeps you warm but will also stay dry? I ... [Read more]

Bamboo Technologies, LLC (Bamboo Living) design and manufacture structurally certified bamboo homes. Founded in 1995, Bamboo Technologies has produced over 350 homes in Hawaii and around the world. I spoke with founder David Sands about why bamboo is sustainable and a great building material. The speed at which it grows is a key reason why bamboo is sustainable. ... [Read more]

Polly Bart loves to get muddy. Despite having an undergraduate degree in architecture and a doctorate in city planning, Polly is not an architect. She's a builder and founder of Greenbuilders, Inc. She loves creating, lifting rock and building things. In fact, she loves it so much, she can't understand why everyone doesn't want to build things! ... [Read more]

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]

After studying chemistry, Chris Brookman completely changed course and went to learn the art of cob house building using traditional techniques with clay. Now Chris supplies modern clay and timber products, including phase change materials, to the building industry through his company Back to Earth. A quick look at the Chris's website shows where his passion lies... "We ... [Read more]

When we renovated our house in Christchurch, we wanted to make it warm, comfortable and healthy. Pulling up old carpet to reveal beautiful hardwood timber floors was all the rage, and so was polyurethane. But I'd heard that polyurethane isn't healthy and this concerned us because we were about to have a baby in the ... [Read more]

When she was 16, Verena Maeder came to New Zealand from Switzerland for a working holiday and fell in love, but not with a kiwi. Verena fell in love with earth buildings. So much so, that she returned to Switzerland and started training as an architect with the specific goal of learning how to design ... [Read more]

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]

What exactly is 'PVC'? And is this really a good material for window framing in New Zealand, Australia, or anywhere else in the World? These are some of the questions I put to Oleg Tolmachev, Sales Manager at Warm Windows - Cascade International. PVC is the abbreviation for poly(vinyl chloride) which is a white powder ... [Read more]

I've been following Jo Wood's and Shay Brazier's Zero Energy House project for nearly three years and I'm very excited to have them both on the show to share some of the details of their design and inspiration. I wanted to cut the chase and find out what makes this house so good. What are ... [Read more]

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