Make your home more sustainable

There are many improvements that can be done to make your home more sustainable.

Some improvements can be done immediately and are cost-free; others will take longer and require more investment. Many of the improvements can be applied when renovating, or for new builds.

Courses are available for Wellington homeowners, tenants, and building sector professionals to make their homes sustainable.

Ways to make your home sustainable

  • Insulate walls, ceiling and under floor to aid heating and save on energy costs.
  • Install double-glazed windows, or thermal-backed curtains if double-glazing is too expensive.
    Curtain Bank - Sustainability Trust
  • Utilise the sun. Orientate a new house for maximum sunshine, install solar water-heating, and consider passive heating options. Talk to your architect for further ideas.
  • Select appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings. Swap regular light bulbs for eco bulbs. Design for maximum natural light to reduce artificial lighting.
  • Choose non-toxic building materials. Look for the Environmental Choice tick of approval. Source materials locally, to reduce the environmental impact of transporting them. 
    Environmental Choice NZ
  • Install a rainwater collection tank. Choose water-efficient appliances and low-flow sanitary fittings.
  • Minimise waste and recycle where possible, especially when demolishing and building.
  • Use renewable electricity sources where possible, by generating onsite (for example, by installing a small-scale wind turbine or micro-hydro system) or by choosing a power company that generates from renewable sources.
  • Build with comfort and the future in mind, particularly if this is the house you plan to grow old in when good indoor / outdoor access will be a key requirement.
  • Choose native and local plantlife for gardens and landscaping.

Training and guidance

Beacon Pathways

Beacon Pathways carries out research and other projects aimed at making New Zealand homes and neighbourhoods high performing, adaptable, resilient and affordable:

Beacon

Building Biology and Ecology Institute

The Building Biology and Ecology Institute offers courses and workshops for people interested in building their own eco-home, and for builders wanting to focus on healthy and ecologically sound building practices.

Students can study by correspondence for the Certificate in Ecological Building and Design. Course materials are also available to people who want to study informally.

Building Biology and Ecology Institute

Sustainability Trust

The Sustainability Trust's Advice Centre Wellington provides free, impartial advice on energy-efficient options for your home to help you save money and protect the environment:

Sustainability Trust

Victoria University of Wellington

Victoria University offers a degree paper in Sustainable Architecture that introduces the ideas, issues and concepts of sustainable architecture.

Students complete projects looking at ways to make new materials from waste, particularly construction and demolition waste.

Online Course Catalogue - Architecture - Victoria University

Learn more about the university's sustainable house project that was a finalist in the international 2011 Solar Decathlon:

First Light House - First Light Studio

WelTec

WelTec (Wellington Institute of Technology) offers courses in engineering technology, construction trades and engineering and electrical trades.

Tradespeople knowledgeable and skilled in sustainable building practices are needed to make sure there's a widespread uptake of these practices in construction projects.

WelTec