eHouse takes aim at eco-housing prejudice

A team of designers are on a quest to tackle the eco-housing prejudices of potential homeowners.

Phil Shaw of ICR Consulting, an Auckland-based architectural design practice, says it can be challenging for architects to convince buyers of the legitimate reasons to buy an eco-friendly home.

Skeptical first time homeowners are wary of the trade-off between value-for-money and sustainability, he says.

“But building green does not always mean a more expensive home – in fact, long-term savings in regards to energy costs alone can be significant.”

Shaw is part of the design team working on the ehouseTM, a home design planbook incorporating contemporary architectural designs with built-in eco features.

“A common complaint that we hear from clients is that green buildings are expensive to build and that they sacrifice good design for eco-efficiency,” says Shaw, “but it is possible to build an eco-friendly house in a very cost-effective manner through good design and good choice of materials. In the end, it's about a lot of small things which add up to a drier, warmer and healthier home.”

Shaw says the ehouse will enable architects to specifically design eco-features suitable for each home.

“Too often green building principles are 'tacked-on' to house designs to which they're not suited. Our approach has been to start fresh, and to figure out what people really want out of their homes. This gives us a way to offer cost-effective green housing that suits the New Zealand climate and lifestyle.”

He says there are plans for Auckland’s major house-building companies to offer the service.