Council moves to provide healthier homes

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 25/04/2013
Eco Design Adviser service

BETTER TIMES: Invercargill City Council building consents team leader and Eco Design adviser Keiron O'Connell and Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt launch the new Eco Design Adviser service.

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Poor housing conditions in Invercargill are connected with poor health, the organiser of a new eco advice service in the city says.

Invercargill City Council building consents team leader and Eco Design adviser Keiron O'Connell said the Eco Design Adviser (EDA) service would provide Invercargill and Bluff residents and home owners with free independent advice and information on how to make homes healthier, more sustainable and save energy.

EDA is a nationwide service, instigated by the Building Research Association of New Zealand, and implemented by six other New Zealand councils.

National research showed 80 per cent of houses in the country were badly insulated or not insulated and 45 per cent of homes had signs of visible mould that was bad for health, he said.

Many New Zealand homes were also not up to World Health Organisation standards, which recommend the temperature of a room to be between 19 and 21 degrees Celsius.

The national average was between 13.5C and 14.5C, he said.

He set up the service at the city council after seeing a dire need in Invercargill for assistance, he said.

Having lived in the United Kingdom for 20 years and working in architecture, he noticed homes in the UK were extremely energy efficient with strong policies and regulations in the area of sustainability.

When he returned home to Invercargill, he found it hard to find a house that was up to a good standard.

"Some homes in Invercargill would not pass European regulations 20 years ago," he said.

He believed the mentality for many people in the city was to bring a dwelling up to the minimum building code standard.

Many plans submitted to the city council with consent applications only met the minimum standard, he said.

Invercargill had a large number of older houses and many had not reached their full potential.

It was important to ensure that when upgraded, the owners had access to the latest information to enable them to make sustainable, cost-effective improvements, he said.

"I want to make a change. I want to help people lower power bills and make homes in the city more energy efficient and healthier at the same time."

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