The power of tomorrow

Luke Parker
The power of tomorrow

New Zealand’s most sustainable house is now officially finished and is already pumping power back on to the grid.

Generating substantially more energy than it uses, the ‘Ideal House’ in Beachlands, Auckland, is the first Positive Energy home that will also have Passive House* Certification in the country (*PH, an accreditation of energy efficiency developed in Germany and spreading around the world). It requires no heating or cooling, and owners Murray and Lee Ann Durbin couldn’t be happier.

Eco House 2 resized“Designed for our family of four, our aim was for it to be not only to a comfortable, healthy, energy-conscious home, but also to produce a surplus of electricity to feed back into the national grid,” Murray says. “After several years of planning, two years of renting, and 11 months of building we’re finally in.” 

The Durbins’ house includes photovoltaic solar panels on the roof, and is designed to maintain a minimum temperature of 20 degrees all year thanks to its careful design, super insulation, air-tightness and heat exchanged ventilation.    

“I can’t emphasise just how amazing the home is to live in. It’s amazing to see the kids running around in t-shirts and shorts, warm and comfortable when it’s blustery and freezing outside.”

SEE ALSO: Solar powered property market

Murray says the plan was to build one of the most efficient houses in New Zealand, whilst keeping to a “main-stream” budget.

“The house’s key features include a high level of insulation and air-tightness,  triple-glazed lowE windows, heat exchanged ventilation, recycled materials when practical, water-harvesting and conservation as well as specific energy efficient design.”

The downpipes are connected to two 25,000 litre underground water tanks.

“For water conservation, we’re using rainwater harvesting, low-flow taps, showers and toliets, water-conservative appliances, and heat-pump hot water cylinder. Our site is also over 90% permeable, reducing the strain on public stormwater systems following heavy rain."

Eco house resizedTo save power, every light in the home is LED, the exterior lights are on sensors and energy efficient appliances have been carefully selected.

Murray says the home was rated as an 8-star under the local Homestar program and is now going through its final built certification.

“The house also includes a comprehensive waste-management and waste-minimisation plan. We reduced the intended six waste skips down to just one through project management and recycling.”

Murray and Lee Ann’s drive and passion is to provide "better homes for our children" – not only a better quality and healthier living environment as their children grow up, but to leave a legacy as the future owners of these homes.

As part of its commitment to sustainability and focus on new growth areas, Westpac, voted the world’s most sustainable company, enthusiastically jumped on board to support the leading-edge construction.

The home will be open regularly for its first two years so others can share the Durbins’ learnings, and experience the comfort of a high performance home first hand.

SEE ALSO: Solar powered property market


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