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Change and How we can help...

Our goal for every project we help you with, is to create a positive impact on the human and natural systems it interacts with.  Towards this goal, we’re integrating the Living Building Challenge (LBC) framework into our reporting and bench marking.  Read on to see how you can benefit.

We also discuss the (limited) future of Natural Gas/LPG as a fuel in our buildings.  Change is coming and we’re here to ensure that you’re prepared with some great solutions.

Enjoy the read and tell us how we can help!


March 2021

Duncan Sinclair - 027 487 7766
In this Issue:
Living Building Challenge:
- Overview
- Seven Petals
- Case Study
- Black Pine's Interpretation
- The CCC's Plan
- List of Alternatives
- Example
- Reflection
The Living Building Challenge provides a framework that focuses on making the world a better place, through the act of design and construction; It starts by asking the question: ‘What does Good look like?’.

The LBC format takes the form of a flower – because the ideal built environment should function as cleanly and efficiently as a flower , with the seven Petals organising a project into performance areas: 

LBC Diagram
Living Building Challenge is a trademark of the International Living Future Institute (the Institute). See here

To gain a better insight on how this concept can be adapted - in a Kiwi context - see the below project by Jasmax. The article illustrates how the 7 petals were addressed and informed the decisions that was carried through in the project.

Give it a read and gain a better insight on what the LBC is about!

TE KURA WHARE | Tūhoe, Tāneatua, New Zealand

Te Kura Whare
Image source (Living Future)

Discovery Review Diagram

Black Pine’s philosophy has always involved the Living Building Challenge, which we regard as a holistic framework for a better built future.

The change for us now, is to bring that to the forefront of all our reporting, starting with the Black Pine Discovery Review - the beginning stage of every project.  Here we will align the Desired Attributes section, your list of wants and needs, with the relevant Petal.  

In this way you can be sure that all aspects of your project are considered, right from the beginning.  It means that otherwise missed opportunities can become an integral part of the final design, producing better outcomes and more efficient processes.

The seven Petals also help structure both our thinking and discussions.  You’ll see this more explicitly in our newsletters, where the various topics of discussion are identified with the relevant Petal, helping to place it in context.

As in the ecology which we are a part of, things are always evolving, this is small step in our evolution to ensure your projects do Good in the world!


The Climate Change Commission Report: No more gas

The release recently of the Climate Change Commission’s draft report has ruffled a few feathers: in particular the recommendation to eliminate the reliance on Natural gas/LPG in our homes.

Although not passed into law yet, we are advised to expect no new natural gas connections or bottled LPG connections after 2025. Hopefully, the gears will be set in motion and gas will be completely phased out by 2050.

Not only will it aid in Aotearoa’s path to being carbon neutral, but it will directly, positively affect every consumer, leading to a healthier, cleaner and quieter environment, with lower energy bills to boot.

For further reading, see this article.

Gas Stove
Image source (Carroll, 2021)

But what are the alternatives? Luckily there are numerous options already available.

For space heating: 
First: Ensure that the amount of insulation in your building is appropriate for your climate and that it is correctly installed (we can help with this).  Aiming for the minimum legal levels here is NOT the way to comfort and low energy bills!
Next consider electric heating: Far infra-red technology is one option and ensures clean, quiet radiant warmth in your home; like having the sun in every room.

For cooking:
Those with a penchant for ‘instant heat’ can’t look past Induction cook tops.  Utilising electro-magnetic energy to heat your pots directly minimizes waste, provides near-instant heat and allows unparalleled control. 

For Hot water:
Hot water heat-pump systems are one solution – using electricity, their inherent mechanism means you gain 4-5 times the amount of heat-energy, for the amount of electrical-energy you put in.  A win no matter how you look at it!
One thing to ask about is the refrigerant gas used in their manufacture.  Many use a high ozone depleting gas in their systems, which is bad for the stratosphere when it (inevitably) leaks out.  Look out for C02 based systems for the best solution.

For more on this topic, see here and below...

An added bonus of all the above solutions, is they also free you from being tied to an energy provider for life, allowing you to produce your own supply on the roof.  Solar electric systems coupled with battery storage are increasingly common, ensuring supply continuity and insulation from increasing supply prices.

Image source (Reclaim Energy)

CO2 Hot Water Heat-Pump Systems:

Heat pumps that use CO2 technology are an environmentally friendly, reliable and safe solution to heat generation. They absorb warmth from the air, amplify it and transform it to hot water. They only need electricity to operate the compressor, rather than other systems that require an electric element. 

Therefore, not only are they quiet, the energy that CO2 heat pumps use to produce hot water is significantly minimised, resulting in substantial energy savings - making it a sustainable and reliable long-term investment. In fact, on average the annual energy savings can be up to 80% per year.

For further reading, understanding of the benefits of the system and more budget-saving tips, see this example of a CO2 heat pump by Reclaim Energy.

Government level decisions being made to help keep the planet habitable is great to see. These are essential to encourage investment in the ecology we rely on.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us and we will get back to you!

If you’d like some assistance in how to successfully navigate the changes happening around us, give us a call.

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