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Residential House, Waikato

03 Sep 2010

This 240² residential property was designed to conserve energy through passive solar principles. Utilising the thermal mass of concrete with appropriate levels of glazing, natural ventilation and insulation, the house exploits the sun's energy to achieve a 60% reduction in energy requirements compared to similar houses.

Findings from a year's worth of data collection (2009-2010) have revealed that the house consumed a mere 3050kWh of power compared to the New Zealand annual average of between 8000 - 10000 kWh. Furthermore, during that time the internal temperature did not drop below 17ºC degrees.

The house designers have endeavoured to maximize heat transfer from the northern public building block to the more private southern block. Essentially, the northern block is a double glazed glass box which traps and stores the sun's heat in the concrete floors and internal masonry walls. When the temperature drops in the evening the heat is transferred to the southern building block by a natural process of thermal conduction and air convection.

The house is oriented due north to enhance solar gain, which heats the exposed internal concrete elements. Throughout summer the house cools itself through natural ventilation provided by a central clerestory. During winter negative air pressures are created within the clerestory by south-westerly winds which assist continual air ventilation through the sleeping areas, and across the entire house.

The house is a realistic attempt to achieve an affordable, energy efficient home with off the shelf technologies and materials, one which demonstrates that passive solar design offers a genuine means to create a naturally comfortable and healthy living environment.

 Annette Firth of Powered Living (North Island) accepts the joint Excellence in Residential Concrete Construction Award from CCANZ CEO Rob Gaimster