The High Standard of Sustainability

Beacon set out to develop a set of benchmarks which would define a home that was sustainable and performs well. We’ve called it the High Standard of Sustainability. We started with national data on house performance, and added our learnings from the Waitakere NOW Home, Papakowhai Renovations and HomeSmart Renovations.

As our focus is on the homes of ordinary New Zealanders, we aimed for performance that is reasonably achievable for most people today. Homes can and will be designed which exceed these benchmarks. However, these benchmarks are for everyday New Zealanders and ordinary homes.

The High Standard of Sustainability sets benchmarks in five key performance areas:

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Indoor environment quality
  4. Waste
  5. Materials

Underpinning the benchmarks are considerations of affordability and future flexibility.

** Where possible, the High Standard of Sustainability uses measurable benchmarks. However, where there is a lack of data or is not measurable, it uses checklists.

Whole of house performance

We believe that we need to focus on the whole of the house in order to really get a fundamental change in our homes. Why? Our houses are a web of interdependent features and building systems. We cannot fix one area only without compromises and under-performance in other aspects of the home. For example:

  • We could use less energy by under-heating the home, but this would mean unhealthy temperatures.
  • We could install heat pumps or pellet burners to heat a home, but without sealing draughts and insulating ceiling, walls and floor, this would be like driving a car with the heater on and the windows open.
  • We could install a wonderful super-energy-efficient product, but if it has toxic by-products, we’d compromise our indoor environment.
  • We could insulate and use energy efficient heating, appliances and lighting but if we still use a lot of hot water, overall energy use will still be high – approximately 30% of typical New Zealand household energy consumption is spent heating water.
  • And even if a home’s energy use was as efficient as possible, but we used a huge amount of reticulated water, we would have to consider the energy used to collect, purify, and transport that water to our door.