Practicalities of lowering energy consumption in residential projects

Over the summer of 2010/11, Victoria University of Wellington and Studio Pacific jointly funded research scholar Stuart Taylor, a fourth year Victoria University architecture student. Stuart researched the practicalities of lowering energy consumption in 9 new and existing residential projects in Wellington, using modeling software AccuRate NZ.

The thermal insulation, construction materials and glazing to wall ratio of each house were modelled and analysed in order to determine the efficacy and relationship of each component, and to better understand how each measure might be used to better respond to the specific conditions of each architectural project. The project investigated the empirical basis for the conventional 'rules of thumb' of reducing energy consumption, and found high variability between houses in the effectiveness of each measure's ability to improve thermal performance, indicating the importance of site-specificity when making design choices to improve energy efficiency.

The outcome of this research was a paper written by Studio Pacific director Evzen Novak in collaboration with Stuart Taylor and Christina Mackay, a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington School of Architecture, which was presented at the Annual Conference of the Australia and New Zealand Architectural Science Association 2011, held in Sydney. This research has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of thermal performance and set the course for further work, enabling design professionals to make better sustainable design decisions in future designs.

Download the 2011 paper here.