Council aid sought for energy plan

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 11/04/2014

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Venture Southland and south Invercargill rejuvenation group South Alive have joined forces on a new project which could cost ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The two groups hope the Invercargill City Council will agree to fund it.

Venture Southland enterprise projects co-ordinator Karyn Owen said the two groups will pitch an energy-efficient model home project to the council and apply for funding during the annual plan process.

The project will have two arms, retrofitting an existing three bedroom home, and a new build, Owen said.

It would demonstrate how energy efficient homes could be both high performing and cost efficient.

If funding was secured, work would begin in July, she said.

A proposal from the council to introduce a targeted rate for South Invercargill residents to cover the cost of South Alive's project co-ordinator proved controversial last month.

South Alive housing action group convenor Margaret Cook said she did not think asking the council for more money was inappropriate in this case, because the project was also being worked on by Venture Southland.

"It's separate from South Alive," she said.

"If it goes ahead it will be amazing and will certainly be the biggest project the housing action group have undertaken."

When asked how much the new project would cost, Owen said the full figures had not been identified yet, but she had determined the average cost of land and property in South City.

To purchase an existing three-bedroom home would be about $190,000, to purchase an empty section would be $40,000, and to build a new three bedroom home on the section would cost about $270,000, but those costs did not include upgrading the existing home to be energy-efficient, or the cost of special technology to monitor each house's performance, Owen said.

As a minimum for the existing home, they want to install insulation, double-glazed windows, and some sort of clean heating like a woodburner or heatpump.

Other councils in New Zealand had tried similar projects.

Owen had been looking closely at the Hastings District Council project Best Home, which saw the council team up with a local building company to build a model home with a high energy rating.

The Best Home website describes the project as "a not-for-profit sustainable housing initiative between Hastings District Council and local building company, Horvath Homes."

The Hastings District Council built their model home last year, and in February announced plans to retrofit an existing house, as well as build 11 new energy efficient homes. 

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- The Southland Times

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