The passive house movement reinvigorated Leighton Baker’s passion for the trade and Cantabrians are reaping life-changing benefits of such synchronicity.
Research confirms the advantages of passive building methods in comparison to a standard build, the industry is seeing increasing capabilities for passive building and design, and we have, in Canterbury, a building landscape that’s ripe for innovation. So why aren’t all new builds today passive builds?
Until now, price has been a determining factor, but on Canterbury’s doorstep is a nifty construction company called Concise Construction and they’ve rewritten the rule book.
“Passive construction opened our eyes to a whole new level of building where we can build houses that are warm and dry and really cheap to heat,” owner-operator Leighton Baker says.
A builder of 20+ years, Leighton established Concise Construction seven years ago to concentrate on housing and light commercial projects, but its focus has since narrowed in on passive house construction.
Its newly designated Low Energy Construction division exists to deliver homes that provide better living environments for their inhabitants.
“The passive ethos is not so much a style of building, but a standard where you are trying to achieve four main things: air tightness, great insulation, good ventilation and correct orientation.
“One thing that is quite obvious is that the people that really need homes like this are the elderly and those with young families. With a low energy home, the air is dry and filtered, so those living in them have less risks from bronchial conditions and dampness.”
The challenge then came in developing a system that that is easily replicated, not too labour intensive, and not overly expensive, so these homes can be mass produced at a price that is affordable.
“To this end we travelled to the States earlier this year hoping to discover a whole raft of ideas to help with our goals.
“Generally, we found that New Zealand is pretty up there with design and styling however, the one product we did find that we thought could help with our goals was spray foam insulation.”
Known as Foam It insulation, this closed-cell foam is waterproof, does not slump, has excellent adhesion properties, high insulation values, and gives an airtight layer.
“This has helped us develop a building system which is low cost, easily replicated and highly efficient,” Leighton says.
They say the proof is in the pudding and they are right – Foam It is highly rated against its alternatives.
“Its R-values are way in excess of current insulation with the advantage of no airflow through the insulation and once applied, it is difficult to penetrate that layer.”
A recently completed project for which Foam It insulation was used achieved an air tightness level of just over one, which Leighton says is fantastic considering the foam was providing most of that airtight seal.
He adds the great thing about low energy is that it can be modelled and measured, which provides peace of mind for clients.
“All of our homes now utilise a heat recovery ventilation system so there is no more mould and wet air in the house and people can breathe easy.
“Foam It Insulation will help builders achieve great results for their clients and we are really excited about this.”
Furthermore, Leighton says, “We are constantly monitoring international products and services so that we can supply our clients with market leading technology and results”.