A sustainability expert answers your design & build questions NZ
A sustainability expert answers your design & build questions

A sustainability expert answers your design & build questions

We ask CoolSpaces sustainability consultant Claudia Kaltenstadler about how to incorporate sustainability into a build project, and the biggest mistakes homeowners make when it comes to sustainability, as well as a few personal questions!

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

AP: What does sustainable design mean?

CK: We often forget what sustainability means to us and we only relate it to products or with design, but sustainability also means long term outcomes. For example, how does my health improve, because of non-toxic products in the house? My kids don't need the doctor or medication anymore, because I have a healthy interior environment. Also, how much energy do I reduce per month or year? I can put that cash aside and pay back my mortgage. That is sustainability for me, because we get all of the benefits of a sustainable home.

AP: What are your top tips for homeowners who are considering sustainability in the design of their home?

CK: Hire the right professional team that is familiar with sustainability. Qualify them first before you hire. Ask questions like: are you familiar with sustainable products? Have you ever designed an energy efficient home or passive house? What do you understand about sustainability? What is your process? Are you confident in staying within my budget? 

AP: What are your top tips for a homeowner, before they talk to a professional?

CK: Look up the five most important criteria of a passive house and educate yourself about the most common sustainable products that are available in New Zealand, so that you're aware of them, if the professional wants to discuss them in regards to your project.

AP: What are ways people renovating an older home can incorporate sustainability?

CK: Yes, they can. There is no silver bullet for everyone, because every old home comes with different criteria, however the most important investment that you can do is:

1) Heating & ventilation

Why? If you get the moisture out of the house the air is easier to heat and it's cheaper to maintain.

2) Windows & insulation

Why? You want to make your home as airtight as possible. Make sure you insulate your home with breathable products, so that moisture can still escape to the outside.

3) Thermal break & high performance membrane

If you need to take your cladding off, that is the ideal scenario, because you then have access from the outside to insulate your cavity. The ideal product to eliminate thermal bridging is to use a wood fibre board on the outside frame and cover it with a high performance membrane, then add cavity batten and put the cladding back on. Again, it's different from project to project, and this is only a general tip.

AP: What's the biggest mistake homeowners make when trying to incorporate sustainable design into their project?

CK: If you don't ask the right questions, or whether the professional is familiar with a range of products, you may miss out on a great opportunity for your project. Some professionals are only focused on one product or one supplier, so ask for alternative options, because there are plenty of them. I hear clients say often, "I wished I knew that before."

AP: Does sustainability mean homeowners have to compromise on aesthetics?

CK: Not at all, it's the opposite! 

How can sustainability consultants help homeowners embarking on a project?

A consultant can help them through the process, to make informed decisions for their project. We are there to help them to compare products' pros and cons, product performance and to help them find the right design and build team, usually saving them money already in the design phase so that they don't go over budget. 

We help you to get to know Claudia with some quick personal questions...

What I do for work described in one sentence: Marketing, sales, quality control of our sustainable homes.

My favourite coffee house/restaurant is: Artisan, Rangiora.

My morning routine is: Get up at 4am and study; drink my coffee; exercise, and start my day with work.

On my wish list is: Changing the building code, to build healthy homes in New Zealand.

The design, person, item that inspires me is: KOTO UK (architect) and Grant Cardone (successful entrepreneur and real estate investor).

My secret talent is: Leather carving (but I don't have the time anymore). 

My favourite room in my house is: The dining room ( I can look outside and see greenery)  

I recently discovered: Six months ago I discovered Grant Cardone and he inspired me to see business differently than I had before. I am far more driven, excited, determined to make CoolSpaces work by providing a solution to the marketplace and beyond our borders.

Tell us about any cool projects you have in the pipeline? Our team is working with an award-winning architect in the UK named:Koto Design. They have a unique way of expressing themselves through their work. Simplicity and minimalist designs with a mixture of Scandinavian and Japanese touches, it reflects their message to reduce the footprint and look after the environment by using sustainable products. Our values are very much aligned with the team and that was the reason for the decision we have made to collaborate. 

Catch CoolSpaces exhibiting at Christchurch Meet, Greet & Eat in 2022 and chat to Claudia about your project.

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