Building and Renovation

Building materials account for a significant proportion of materials globally. Construction and demolition waste also accounts for over a third of all solid waste generated. The materials used in building have a large environmental impact right through from the extraction of raw materials to make them through to the processing, manufacturing, transportation, use and disposal of these. Some of these materials are very energy intensive to produce, while others may contain hazardous substances. Choosing green products can significantly lower the environmental impact of building and renovating.


Sustainable home design

Choosing the right help is an important part of making your home building and renovations more sustainable. If you are at the design stage of a new build you are in the position to be talking to designers about your goal of building a more sustainable home, both in terms of using a design and materials with a lower environmental impact and enhancing energy efficiency throughout the life of the building.

Broadly speaking, in a well designed passive solar building design the, windows, walls, and floors are designed and orientated to collect and store heat from the sun in winter and to block it from entering in the summer. Window placement and size is used to direct light onto a thermal mass, which acts as a heat sink in the building. This ‘locks in’ heat, lowering the need for other heat sources. Good insulation then keeps this heat from escaping the house. In summer, good design prevents this head from entering the building, keeping the building naturally cool.

Another key aspect is home size. With a national trend of every increasing home sizes, one of the biggest energy saving measures you can take is design a smaller home. Less is best!

Local sustainable home designers, builders and installers:

  • Ecoinnovation - New Plymouth. Manufacturers, designers and installers of renewable energy systems, including micro-hydro power systems.

  • eHaus Taranaki - New Plymouth. Builders of passive houses.

  • Elementary Solar & Electrical. Solar photovoltaic (PV), wind conversion & hydro electricity systems.

  • Greenbridge - New Plymouth. Specialists in sustainable design & build for homes & landscapes, including council approved composting toilets and grey water systems.

  • JF Building Ltd - Okato. Providing sustianable building services, including being NZ builders of Sirewall earth walls.

  • NZ Tiny Homes - New Plymouth. Local tiny house builder.


Insulation and double glazing

Following on from good passive solar design, high R value insulation in the walls, floor and ceiling, along with double glazing, will significantly reduce heat loss in a home and reduce condensation. Quality insulation keeps the heat in during Winter and out of the house in Summer, reducing energy costs and enhancing the comfort of your home. Double glazing can halve the heat loss from windows in your home. It is standard in most new houses, but it worth installing in existing homes if your existing windows require replacing. Retrofit double glazing products are available locally.

Local retrofit double glazers and insulation companies can be found on our Insulation page.


If you are interested in solar panels, there are a host of useful online resources to explore, such as the Building Research Council of New Zealand’ s Level website solar page, the Sustainable Energy Association of New Zealand's Solar Optimiser, and My Solar Quote - a site that will generate quotes from three solar suppliers for your job.

Local solar panel system installers:

Solar panels and hot water


Second hand building materials

Utilizing second hand materials is a great way to reduce the impact of building or renovating your home.

Local suppliers of reclaimed building materials:


If you know of other stockists/retailers/suppliers/services or all round fantastic sustainable sources please let us know so that we can include them.