We’ve had a busy few months and this is an update with what’s been happening with our project.
1. International Passive House Open Day
We were fortunate enough to join in for the International Passive House Open day last month, and had around 70+ people through the home. We were run off our feet from around 10am through to about 4pm, with loads of interested people looking to build ‘eco’ and lots of great questions. Thanks for all those who attended, and we’re excited to be part of the inaugural South Pacific Passive House conference in February next year. Details can be found here: http://www.passivehouse.org.nz/
2. New Home Trends Magazine
The Ideal House was recently featured in an 11 page advertorial in Trends Magazine. There has only been a small print run, so copies are hard to find, but we’ve been promised there are plenty on the way! Click here or on the image below to see the online version:
3. Grand Opening in November
With thanks to Westpac, we held a Sustainable Building Networking event at Westpac in town, and we were privileged to have some great guest speakers including Paola Leardini, Senior Lecturer at The University of Auckland, Paula Hugens, owner of eZED, Alex Reiche from Envirospec, and Leigh Featherstone from NZGBC (Homestar). We also had the architects Stephen and Matt from S3a on hand for questions also. Most then ferried out to the home where we held less formal celebrations, and tours. For many it was their first time to see the completed home. Many thanks to Catherine Langabeer from Westpac who organized most of the day for us, as well as the informative signage now posted around the home.
Dr Paola Leardini, Senior Lecturer from The University of Auckland, presenting on Passive Houses.
“The Panel” for question time. From left, Alex Reiche (EnviroSpec), Leigh Featherstone (NZGBC/Homestar), Paula Hugens (eZED), Dr Paola Leardini (The University of Auckland/PHINZ), and us, Lee Ann and Murray Durbin.
Catherine Langabeer who organized most of the opening event for us. Catherine is Westpac’s Senior Manager Sustainability, Corporate Affairs.
As mentioned above, with the support of Westpac The Ideal House now has over thirty A3 and A4 signs mounted around the home, detailing all the products and systems that went into the project, as well as specific signage around Positive Energy Homes, Homestar, and Passive Houses. This will allow for a self-learning journey, suitable for young adults and upwards, if we are unable to give personal tours. The home is perfectly setup for school or University groups, and work-sheets can be easily created. We have also built models of the wall, floor, and ceiling systems in the garage, so you can see and touch all the components that went into this high performance home.
4. Photovoltaic (PV) commissioning
After finally getting our (brand new) meter, removed and replaced with an import/export meter (there has to be a more efficient way), Power Tech were able to commission the PV system. We’re now live! We don’t have any high-tech monitoring setup yet, but we will be able to keep tabs on production on-line on our smart-phones in due course. In the mean-time we have been taking manual readings (in kW) from around the same time in the evening as follows. The numbers read in order; IMPORT (what we’re having to buy from the grid), and EXPORT (surplus we’re able to sell). We’re on average exporting 80% more (nearly twice) than what we’re importing, but it is early days. We also need to determine how much of this power the car is consuming. Unfortunately at the new lowered rates (dropped from around 15c to 8c per kW buy-back) it looks as though we’ll still have a power bill to pay. A case of bad timing, a deregulated power industry, and a Government which doesn’t support domestic electricity production as a method to eliminate the need for coal and gas power plants in New Zealand. It would be so easy for NZ to bridge the gap, and get 100% of New Zealand’s power produced from renewable resources. In any case, here are the initial readings, which include charging our Mitsubishi PHEV Outlander:
19/11/14, 2kW vs 26kW (no car charge)
20/11/14, 17kW vs 28kW
21/11/14, 16kW vs 36kW
22/11/14, 22kW vs 34kW
23/11/14, 18kW vs 30kW
28/11/14, 18kW vs 31kW
29/11/14, 10kW vs 26kW
30/11/14, 27kW vs 22kW
1/12/14, 13kW vs 30kW
Our meter box. 2 Phase, in case we charge the car and run the oven at the same time. We can toggle through the menu to see various screens, including total Import and Export kW.
Our main switch board.
One of the two Kaco Inverters in the plant room (along with the ventilation system), changing the power from DC to AC so we can use in the home (and export), and the monitoring box (bottom) connected to our data-hub, which will supply us real-time production data, accessible from anywhere.
The import/export meter, showing the current export reading.
5. The Living Green Show, Filming
The Ideal House was selected for the first episode of a brand new TV show, called The Living Green Show. The Living Green Show will be broadcast on Choice (free to air) early 2015. We spent half a day filming, but it’s hard to compress a 2-3 year project into 8 minutes, particularly when you have to showcase sponsors products! We hope however that it will raise the overall profile of the project, and people are able to do further research.
6. The gardens
We’ve only been in a few months, but are already reaping the rewards from our gardens;
What’s ready now? Lettuce, courgettes, strawberries, boysenberries, bok choy, spinach, coriander, parsley, mint and basil.
What’s on the way? Tomatoes, cucumbers, plum, feijoa’s, apple, and various citrus have all set. Beatroot, carrots and potatoes are all doing great. Fig tree has burst into life, but we’ve yet to see it flower.
And finally we are planning two more open days before now and Christmas, so we’ll be posting dates and times soon for those that would like to take a tour this year.