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Greens help build healthy houses

3 August, 2004

Greens help build healthy houses

The health effects of building materials will have to be taken into account by the newly-formed buildings department, as a result of Green Party amendments to the Building Bill, which has its third reading in Parliament today [Tuesday].

"Astonishingly, there's no requirement at present either to register or assess the health effects of the thousands of building products used in building our homes and buildings," said Green Health spokesperson, Sue Kedgley. "Yet our indoor air quality can be more polluted than outdoor air.

"There are large numbers of highly toxic building products used in New Zealand. There are resins, glues, flame retardants and particle boards which can release formaldehyde; other products that offer no protection against mould and fungi such as stachybotrys."

Ms Kedgley pointed out that people now spend on average some 80 per cent of their time indoors, so are exposed to indoor pollutants for relatively long periods of time.

She said the Greens had achieved a number of other improvements to the Bill.

"I am delighted that other Green amendments have been successfully added, encouraging the use of renewable energy, the efficient and sustainable use of materials, the reduction of waste and offering protection for heritage buildings.

"We are looking at damning our rivers to build new hydro stations, yet half of our homes are not even properly insulated,' Ms Kedgley said. "We could achieve huge energy savings if we reduced energy use in homes through proper insulation, solar heating and other simple measures."

Ms Kedgley said the Green Party would be supporting the bill, although it had concerns about the effect of the new regulations on owner-builders, and about the continuance of private building inspectors.

"Despite these reservations, the bill offers much greater protection for consumers and home-owners," said Ms Kedgley.


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