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In Search for the Zero Energy House


Press Release - BRANZ
19 November 2002

In Search for the Zero Energy House

Builders in most European countries and in North America can offer their clients houses which require little or no heating energy. Adding renewable means of energy generation ­ such as a solar water heater, a wind turbine or photovoltaic panel ­ to these energy efficient designs allows the residents to become independent of the electricity grid altogether and to use no fossil fuels at all.

New Zealand is lagging behind in this international trend. Energy efficiency generally ranks very low on the list of requested and offered features for home builders and buyers. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that there are houses scattered all over New Zealand which use interesting and effective energy design features, some of them even are completely autonomous from the electric grid.

In July 2002 BRANZ started a new research project, to identify and evaluate existing houses with advanced energy efficiency and energy generation technologies.

One important part of the project is to collate a list of existing New Zealand houses with advanced energy performances or technologies. Owners of these houses are asked to participate in the research by submitting their houses to the Zero and Low Energy Houses (ZALEH) database and by completing a survey on the benefits and any problems of these technologies. The responses will go into the ZALEH knowledge database, where real life experiences will be showcased. The knowledge database will ultimately be accessible on the BRANZ website as a hands-on reference for the public and the industry. It will assist to make the right decisions in the initial stages of the low energy house design process.

BRANZ is now inviting owners of low energy houses to submit their home for the research project. The aim is to include the top 100 energy efficient houses in New Zealand. Therefore there are a number of general energy efficiency criteria for a house to go into the database. However, BRANZ is also interested in houses which use innovative solutions to deal with individual energy consumption aspects, even if they are not particularly energy efficient in others. In general the house should have at least four of the following attributes.

1. Solar or Heat Pump Water Heating 2. Insulation Significantly Better Than NZ Building Code Requirements 3. Double-Glazing Throughout 4. Solar Design Features such as Trombe Walls or other innovative features. 5. Energy Bills of Less than $15 per Month Per Occupant 6. Renewable Energy Technologies - Photovoltaic Panels, Wind Energy etc

To participate in the study, it is necessary for the house to be owner-occupied.

The details of the application procedure are on the BRANZ website (www.branz.co.nz, select "BRANZ Ltd." and search for "ZALEH"). Interested home owners can also call BRANZ on 0800-ZALEHP (0800-925347) or e-mail at ZALEH@branz.co.nz to find out more about the project.

All participants in the study will go into a prize draw. The first prize is a trip for two for one week to the Gold Coast plus $1000 spending money. Another six participants will each win a set of two Solar Garden Lights.

ENDS


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