Dr Paola Leardini is an emerging researcher and academic in New Zealand. Following her initial academic career in Italy (Politecnico di Milano) and Switzerland (Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio), in 2007 she joined The School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland, where she is lecturing in the field of Architecture and Environmental Design. She is a PhD graduate in the field of Indoor Environmental Quality studies. Her doctorate work was undertaken under the guidance of Prof P. Ole Fanger, one of the worldwide leading experts in the field of thermal comfort. At the present she is involved in different research initiatives in collaboration with major NZ research institutions and industry partners. Her research interests include environmentally responsive design of the built environment (architecture and urban scale); building energy efficiency: from low energy to positive and regenerative architecture; indoor comfort and indoor environmental quality (including post-occupancy evaluation); Passive House Standard in warm climate; building eco-retrofitting and urban regeneration; diagnostic, conservation and reuse of historic buildings.
Since her appointment at the University of Auckland in 2007, Dr Leardini has been working on energy efficiency and comfort (towards regenerative architecture) in new and retrofitted residential buildings. This general research interest was soon substantiated in two parallel investigation streams, both extremely relevant in the New Zealand context. The first of them, PassivHaus New Zealand [PHNZ], is a research initiative including academics, practitioners and industry partners aiming to design, build and monitor New Zealand’s first house meeting international Passive House standards. In 2012 the prototypical unit became the model for an actual design project realised in Auckland (first NZ certified Passive House), which will be monitored for a two year period. The second research stream is the University funded Eco-retrofitting of State Housing in Auckland. Through monitoring, measurements of environmental parameters, simulations and instrumental in-situ case study investigations, the research project aims at supporting on-going and future housing upgrade initiatives of Housing NZ Corporation and owners of former State houses or similar housing types. Results of the research in progress were already presented in national and international conferences, public workshops and exhibitions, and published in refereed conference proceedings.
Beside these two main research streams, Dr Leardini has also been working on the evaluation of indoor air quality of New Zealand’s housing stock, in collaboration with Building Research Association New Zealand (BRANZ) within their 5-year WAVE programme (Weathertightness, Air Quality and Ventilation Engineering).
Stemming from this initial work, her current and future research activity includes the design and construction of ‘positive’ residential buildings, able to satisfy their energy needs with on-site generated renewables. At the same time, the interest for the existing building stock and its upgrade has opened up new research opportunities in the area of the diagnostic, conservation and reuse of historic buildings, a topical subject of recent innovative European and American research projects.