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Eco-living without the eco-puffery
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Although being touted as the modern lifestyle revolution, eco-living is not such a new concept, as Ecobob was recently reminded.
Jack says he’s always been “a bit of a greeny”. Growing up on a farm, he developed a sense of conservation, efficiency and frugality, as well as a passion for trees. Planting trees as a hobby since age 8 allowed him to develop a relationship with nature, which in turn has inspired him to live in a more eco-friendly way.
Jack and Margaret built their first eco-house back in the 70s in West Melton. Back then insulating was not part of the required building code, and you couldn’t buy double glazing, so Jack and Margaret used polystyrene in the floors and walls, and spent hours plugging up every tiny space a breeze could find its way in.
They’ve since moved through a few more properties, including a large lifestyle block near Ashburton, and a holiday property in Motueka, leaving a legacy of eco-efficient houses ans beautiful trees in their wake.
Ashburton Eco Home
Now that they’re getting on a bit – they’re both in their eighties - and not wanting to move again they decided to design their newest house to suit their ageing needs - as well as the somewhat extreme climate of Ashburton.
Inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as Japanese Minka style homes, this home is a prime example of “east meets west”. And to add to its uniqueness, architect Shizuka Yasui of Bob Burnett Architecture has also included, as Jack playfully describes it, “geriatric-friendly” design elements.
The interior design is clean, minimalist and beautiful, as well as earthy due to favouring the use of exposed wood in design. Jack and Margaret love their pine ceiling with exposed beams, and clerestory windows to allow in light.
The conservatory was designed not only to house their extensive book collection, but also as the heat collector of the home. It has high roof-windows allowing in all-day sunlight, and a fan facilitates the flow of the heat to other parts of the home.
During the summer-time the 50% thicker than standard floor acts as a heat sink, while the air temperature inside the house is high, remaining in the twenties. The floor gradually reaches between 20 and 25 degrees, and then releases the heat during winter keeping helping to keep things cosy during the cold months.
Warmth being their key priority, they have installed the highest efficiency log burner available. This is connected to the hot water cylinder via a wet back boiler, to aid the solar water-heating system during the winter months when the suns rays are in lower supply. As a back-up they do have a 16kW electric boiler, but to date they have not had to use it.
They don’t have photovoltaics as yet, but have the provisions built in to install them once a more efficient model is available here in New Zealand.
Apart from the house’s eco-features, Jack and Margaret also include eco-friendly practices into their daily lives. “We are nature-friendly, and we recycle just about everything we can”, says Margaret.
They also have a wonderful vegetable garden, and a growing array of fruit trees amongst other plant specimens in their ever-improving garden. An outstanding effort that most people half their age would go 'green' with envy over!
Article by Denise Bester - Ecobob Journalist
More photos of the Ashburton Eco Home
The above image shows the pipe work leading in to the underfloor heating system from the solar hot water and wet back supply.
This image shows the underfloor heating pipes being installed on the foundations of the house.
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