Buildings are a significant contributor to carbon emissions in every country; no nation can meet their climate change targets without addressing their buildings’ operational energy efficiency.
That’s according to Passive House Canada chief executive Rob Bernhardt, who says New Zealand is no different.
“It is imperative that all countries make changes to their buildings to meet their commitments to the Paris Agreement.”
Passive House Canada is a non-profit professional association advocating for the internationally recognised Passive House high performance building standard.
It advocates for better buildings in terms of comfort, health, affordability, and indoor air quality.
“The degree to which these buildings are better for the people who live and work in them is often more important to occupants than the reduced climate impacts of high performance buildings,” Mr Bernhardt says.
Passive House supports policies that facilitate high performance buildings. It also provides education and training for industry professionals.
Passive House Canada collaborated with the UN Economic Commission for Europe to develop framework guidelines for energy efficiency in buildings needed to meet climate change and other sustainable development goals.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals incorporate many aspects of sustainability; including affordability, comfort, health and quality of life.
“Technology plays a smaller role than design, as an inherently efficient design creates an affordable, higher quality building suitable for the climate.”
“It’s not about solar panels, or the number of panes in a window. It’s about designing and constructing a building, the energy needs of which can be met through renewable sources and which offers a superior quality of life.”
Buildings meeting Passive House guidelines are better for your health for several reasons.
Carbon dioxide levels in buildings are often too high in buildings that don’t have adequate ventilation, and Mr Bernhardt says this important fact needs addressing.
“Excessive CO2 levels in buildings lead to a number of problems, including reduced cognitive functions.
“Buildings need a high quality, properly commissioned ventilation system that provides a constant source of fresh air to mitigate this.”
With a high-quality building envelope maintaining stable inside surface temperatures, condensation on those surfaces is avoided, therefore eliminating mould and mildew on wall and window surfaces.
Mr Bernhardt says New Zealand is well positioned to improve the quality of buildings for all its residents, including the most vulnerable.
“The housing crisis that New Zealand is facing offers an opportunity to work with those in New Zealand familiar with high performance Passive House buildings in developing solutions to the housing crisis.
“The members of the Passive House Institute New Zealand are a key resource for the country.”
Buying or building your own home or building for your business is the biggest investment most people will make, yet most do not know how their buildings will perform before purchasing.
“Just like our food and automobiles, independently verified energy labels on buildings provide valuable information and protection for consumers.”
Presenting at the New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NZIQS) conference, Mr Bernhardt will be in New Zealand to highlight these issues to industry professionals and government.
“Our mission is to make buildings of this calibre the norm in Canada, and there is no reason New Zealand cannot enjoy the same quality in its buildings.”