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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 11 – REDUCING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

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As the title of my first blog suggests Ange and I see the bach as a legacy for our family to enjoy for many years to come. We hope that our family will own it for a long time and our daughters will continue to use it long after we’ve gone. However, we are mindful that while we have committed capital into it, we don’t want it to remain a financial burden for us or our daughters.

Many of our clients have similar mindsets, they are in a stage of life where their nest is finally empty or they are heading into retirement and they are mentally and physically prepared for the capital cost of their build. But, on the other hand, they are also mindful of ongoing monthly expenses and how their new home can help to reduce these. I recall taking the brief from one client “we want no monthly bills”! Although, somewhat taken aback, I realised that while I couldn’t help with rates or insurance I could design a home that would reduce or remove most other monthly bills. Even though the design of the bach is vastly different to that particular home, we still want the same notion of sustainability, doing all we can to ensure our legacy won’t continue to cost us in the future.

I have always believed that great architecture comes from completely embracing the location, environment and geography of the site, using these qualities to inform the design, contributing to a more considered home and an efficient outcome. I feel we have done this with our bach, utilizing the prevailing wind to both heat and cool as required, considering where the sun rises and sets and incorporating the characteristics of the site to create an efficient building and enhance the way we will live in the bach.

Now we need to think about ‘blinging up’ the bach. How can we make a good performing building perform even better?

When we finalised the roof pitches of the pavilions, we knew it needed to accommodate a photovoltaic system, but what else can we add to increase the building performance? After much deliberation, we settled on a few ‘blinged up’ items, we will wire the bach for a Tesla battery – we did consider installing one but as it is still so new to the New Zealand market we decided to wait for the technology to improve further. We will also install wiring for an electric car, the way things are going we predict that perhaps not our next car, but definitely the one after that will be electric.

The interior fittings and where they are placed also help to create a sustainable, functional, well designed bach. Consider lighting, how can we provide light in a space where it is required without the light ‘escaping’ or ‘flooding’ into other spaces thus wasting energy? We have had to think carefully, where will we need light? How can we position and select the appropriate lights to ensure we provide light only where it is required; in the kitchen to cook dinner or over the sofa to read a book? And more importantly how much light is required to complete each task? We are working closely with some lighting experts to ensure our lighting layout will contribute to an energy efficient bach.

There were many other items we seriously considered adding into the bach, however we decided they simply weren’t right for us. And while I’m slightly disappointed that we decided against installing a rain water tank at this stage (I was looking forward to my backyard cricket pitch looking as lush as Lord’s), we have ensured the plumbing is suitably equipped to install one in the future.

Whilst we are lucky, with so many different ways to increase the efficiency of buildings, we know many of these things can involve a large investment upfront which can some overwhelming in an already costly process. At the end of the day, while we do want to create an energy efficient bach, decrease our monthly bills and design an environmentally friendly building we have found it difficult finding a balance between the monetary cost to us and the cost to the environment. So, we have tried, where possible, to future proof the bach; elements we aren’t ready to purchase now have been allowed for so can be installed easily in the future.

 

Published on Friday, March 3rd, 2017