Latest evolution in state housing

This Issue This is a part of the High-performance buildings feature

By - , Build 185

Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities has an ambitious public housing build programme to deliver high-performing homes. This could play a key role in meeting New Zealand’s collective challenge to reduce our emissions.

KĀINGA ORA – Homes and Communities plans to deliver better homes, faster and in the right places, adding at least 8,300 new state homes nationwide between financial years 2020 and 2024.

Homes suited to low-carbon living Working with our design and build partners, we have identified major contributions we can make to sustainability. We aim to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions in building methodologies, site clearance and construction activity and make our homes better suited to low-carbon living.

By opting for less emissions-intensive building materials, minimising the need for waste and designing homes that require little effort to keep warm or cool, Kāinga Ora hopes to leave a lasting, positive impression on New Zealand’s carbon emissions profile.

Using off-site manufacturing

Off-site manufacturing can have considerable benefits and, depending on how it’s deployed, can contribute to more-sustainable outcomes. Integration of off-site manufacturing can reduce trade vehicle traffic movements, minimise construction waste and shorten build times, curbing disruption to the surrounding area and reducing health and safety risks.

Kāinga Ora aims to increase the market adoption of off-site manufacturing to drive construction quality and productivity. For instance, we have been among the first to adopt cross laminated timber (CLT) extensively in New Zealand within 3-level walk-up apartments.

Sustainably sourced CLT uses timber panels that are manufactured off site, are fast to install and enable long-term storage of carbon in the building structure.

We are now looking to expand our use of CLT within two significant projects in Auckland’s Avondale. One 6-level block of the 236-home Highbury Triangle development is expected to be built in a composite light timber-frame construction, manufactured off site, including CLT.

At nearby Elm Street, we hope to incorporate a similar build methodology across the entire development. This comprises approximately 166 mixed-tenure homes across six buildings, ranging from 6–8 levels. Both developments are expected to be complete by mid to late 2024.

Getting value from waste

Improving sustainability in our redevelopment work starts with reducing waste in site clearance practices. Kāinga Ora has adopted the waste minimisation hierarchy, prioritising relocation of existing homes as well as deconstruction, which seeks to reuse and recycle as many building materials as possible, over demolition of older homes.

A new site clearance panel was established in May 2021, containing relocation, deconstruction and demolition subcategories. By creating this change, we are making a conscious effort to grow skills and capacity in the deconstruction and relocation sectors, while also seeking to understand key infrastructure and capability constraints.

Kāinga Ora has set an 80% diversion from landfill target across our Auckland redevelopment programme. This target has already been exceeded, for instance, by our deconstruction partner TROW Group, which reused and recycled 90% of materials cleared from Highbury Triangle and 91% at Elm Street. It has also been exceeded by our Auckland large-scale project civil alliance Piritahi, which is tracking at 87% diversion from landfill overall.

In addition, we have established a 7% national target for the relocation of existing houses – about 70 houses per year. Again, Piritahi is well ahead of this in Auckland with 31% of homes relocated from large-scale development areas. The relocated houses are provided to iwi, NGOs and others for refurbishment and reuse.

Homes that perform for their occupants

More than one in five New Zealand homes were reported as being damp all or some of the time, according to the Stats NZ 2018 Census results.

Through our build programme, Kāinga Ora wants to influence change in the healthiness of New Zealand homes overall. Since mid-2019, state homes have been built to a 6 Homestar version 4 rating nationally. This is also the case with market and affordable homes in our Auckland large-scale development areas, meaning our homes exceed Building Code standards for warmth, dryness and health.

In the last year, we have pushed further to achieve a 7 Homestar rating in two Auckland public housing developments, with more in the pipeline. Kāinga Ora also has other potential projects on the horizon that aim to achieve even higher ratings.

The introduction of rooftop solar photo-voltaic (PV) systems is another way Kāinga Ora is working to contribute to the sustainability of our communities, while supporting customers to live well in their homes. Kāinga Ora is trialling the integration of solar PV systems on different types of houses, including stand-alone homes, duplexes and apartments.

The trials are part of the government’s $28 million Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund. Each trial will be evaluated to understand the benefits to customers in terms of reducing energy hardship.

Thriving, connected communities As we seek to address the increasing demand for state housing, we’re looking to build up, rather than out, to create better-planned and connected communities.

In part, this relates to where we choose to deliver more compact living – for instance, intensifying land in areas close to transport hubs, services, education facilities and jobs. As we transition to a future less reliant on private motor vehicles, it’s also about creating a built environment that puts people at its centre.

That means balancing the need for car parking with the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and others. It also means encouraging connections among residents by incorporating such things as shared green space, play areas and multi-purpose community rooms for gatherings and events in our larger developments.

Future will bring sharper standards

This is just the start for Kāinga Ora. As with the rest of the construction sector, our plans for high-performing homes will soon need to take account of carbon emissions caps being set by the government through the Building for climate change programme. These will set a progressively sharper industry standard for low-carbon building and redevelopment.

As the government’s housing and urban development agency, it’s important we show leadership by meeting caps ahead of time as well as shifting our own design standards to embrace energy efficiency and renewable on-site electricity generation, along with other clever innovations under development.

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