Our history

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Beacon Pathway, the Incorporated Society, grew out of a research consortium (Beacon Pathway Ltd) formed in 2004 to fulfil a six year research contract with the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST).  Original shareholders were: New Zealand Steel, Waitakere City Council, Fletcher Building, BRANZ and Scion. 

The FRST research contract was aimed at improving the performance of New Zealand’s homes and neighbourhoods. Beacon’s vision, “Creating homes and neighbourhoods that work well into the future and don’t cost the Earth”, drove an extensive programme of demonstration projects, collaboration, and the development of practical solutions and tools.  It covered:

  • New homes: two homes built, tenanted and performance-monitored (energy and water use, temperature, moisture).
  • Existing homes: 9 homes renovated and monitored; 650 homes assessed and given individualised renovation plans; Homeowner Manual and Local Government Resource Manual developed.
  • Neighbourhoods: tool developed to assess sustainability, tested on greenfield and existing neighbourhoods.
  • Energy: house typologies developed for energy retrofits; decision framework for renewable energy; solar water heating performance monitored.
  • Water: demand management framework developed for councils; value of implementing water demand management analysed in Tauranga case study.
  • Indoor environment quality: performance of forced air ventilation systems analysed; part of unflued gas heater lobby group.
  • Materials: Life Cycle Analysis of demonstration homes established importance of operation rather than material choice in ongoing environmental costs of a home.

This research - still available on this website - contributed to many of the changes made in government policy, local government and industry initiatives and consumer awareness. Monitoring data from live research homes proved the benefits of higher performing homes, and together with cost benefit analysis, formed a National Value Case for supporting improving home performance and contributed to the expansion of the Warm Up New Zealand programme. Beacon’s research formed the basis of the Auckland Council Retrofit Your Home programme and underpins the HomestarTM rating tool and the Smarter Homes consumer website. Both industry and community housing groups have picked up Beacon’s new home standards and ‘whole of house’ approach.

Moving to an Incorporated Society

An end-of-term review by FRST commented on the success of Beacon’s research programme in terms of both research advances and driving change. 

It was apparent from the Review that ‘sustainable homes’ would not be as high on the agenda of the NZ government, industry and consumers - as demonstrated by level of buy-in across the sector from key stakeholders - without Beacon.

However, under the terms of the Shareholders’ Agreement by which Beacon Pathway Ltd was set up, the end of the contract also brought to an end the company.  

Two former shareholders in Beacon Pathway Ltd, Waitakere City Council and New Zealand Steel, proposed a successor organisation to build on the success of the original programme and address outstanding issues in the performance of new and existing homes.   In October 2010, an Incorporated Society was formed with seven original organisational members: New Zealand Steel, EECA, Certified Builders, Insulpro Manufacturing, Resene, Christchurch City Council, and Fletcher Aluminium.

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