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Book aims to clarify building code misconceptions

According to the Minister for Building and Construction, Maurice Williamson, energy efficiency in the home is all down to good building design. The words—though not rocket science— came as Williamson launched the second edition of Designing Comfortable Homes—a book commissioned by the Cement and Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ), with a little help from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). 

Recent changes to the Energy Efficiency clause of the Building Code, and the development of NZS 4218—the thermal insulation standard—spurred CCANZ to update the first edition. 

As stated in the introductory pages, the book aims to: “...address a widely held misconception that compliance with the energy efficiency requirements of the New Zealand Building Code is best practice—this is far from the truth. The Code sets minimum performance requirements only—in other words they are the levels that it is illegal to go below.” 

To get better performance, the book says, you need to move beyond Code requirements. Two higher levels of insulation are highlighted–‘Better Practice’ and ‘Best Practice’.  Computer modelling is used to show the comfort and energy efficiency benefits these and other improvements can provide. 

The book is centered around passive solar design principles, deemed to be a solution to keeping homes cool in summer and warm in winter. Passive solar design principles are summarised as: insulation, glazing, adding thermal mass, stopping air leakage, shade, and ventilation. 

"The premise of this book is that homes can be naturally warm in winter and cool in summer—provided appropriate combinations of glass, concrete's thermal mass and insulation are used," says CCANZ chief executive Rob Gaimster, who is encouraging architects, designers, builders and their clients to embrace the concepts outlined in the book. 

Download the PDF of the book HERE.