Old homes hold energy answers
Two old state houses bought for a song could hold the secret to how people can hang on to the Kiwi lifestyle into the future.
The Glen Innes homes were bought for just a dollar from Housing New Zealand and have been moved to Auckland University's new Sustainable Built Futures Centre at Ardmore.
They will be used to test ways of becoming more energy-efficient at a low cost.
Centre co-director Geoff Austin says New Zealand's rising population means Kiwis cannot sustain the way they're living without using less artificially produced energy.
"In the world there are around 1 billion people living with our kind of lifestyle.
"There are another 7 billion trying to improve their living conditions and this results in using more energy," he says.
Research is already under way on the houses with the installation of water tanks to collect rainwater. Solar panels will also be put on the roofs to explore natural energy and heat sources.
The basic state houses are timber-framed with a concrete tile roof and some insulation, and single-glazed windows.
Monitoring devices for external and internal temperature, humidity and solar radiance will be installed and computer models of the houses have already been developed.
Two small identical greenhouses on the research site are already measuring their potential as a heat source for homes.
One of the centre's major focuses is to provide a real-world, large-scale research site for the New Zealand building industry to trial new products.
Students will work on the state houses to explore innovative engineering design concepts related to sustainable living.
The university is looking at having trade students working on the houses as part of their training.