Firth’s enviro products contribute to a coveted 8 Homestar rated home - Firth | ArchiPro

Firth’s enviro products contribute to a coveted 8 Homestar rated home

Products used: Keystone Country Manor®, EnviroBlend®


Murray and Lee Ann Durbin’s ground-breaking project to design and build a residential energy efficient home with an 8 Homestar design rating in Beachlands, Auckland is now complete. The project was conceived by the School of Architecture at the University of Auckland, designed by Stephen Smith and Matt Wilson from S3 Architects and built by local builder Palladium Homes.

Suppliers such as Firth supported the environmental build with enviro products -EnviroBlendTM concrete and EnviroPave paving - key factors in the house being able to achieve the targeted 8 Homestar rating.

“We moved into the house in September and it’s great to finally see it completed after a year of construction and two years of planning,” said Murray. “We are just finishing off all the planting and then will have our final assessment which should give us the 8 Homestar rating we were aiming for. We have also just exceeded the tough air-tightness thresholds required for Passivehaus and are in the process of certification.”

One of the first products used on the project was Firth’s EnviroBlendTM concrete for the RibRaft® floor slab, giving the build valuable Homestar points.

The criteria on which EnviroBlendTM concrete is assessed:

  1. Manufacturing sites must hold necessary consents and permits
  2. Raw materials such as cement carry ECNZ certification
  3. The aggregate supplier must hold necessary consents, 
permits and follow strict management plans
  4. Hazardous substances are managed as per HSNO Act
  5. Water and air discharges are monitored and managed
  6. Water and solid waste recycling programs
  7. Energy management
  8. Employee training programs

After a year of construction and a variety of eco products utilised; extra thick insulation, triple glazed windows, double timber skinned walls, water conservation systems, waste management and minimisation systems … and a lot more, the Durbin’s needed to add the final touches to their home with the completion of the landscaping. This area of the build also had strict guidelines and requirements in order to contribute to the Homestar rating.

“We were always conscious of the fact we wanted to finish the house off properly. You often see people put all their money into the build with nothing left for the landscaping and driveways,” explained Murray. “The indoor, outdoor flow of the house is a key factor for us so we wanted to have enough of the budget left to complete all the paving and planting, particularly as we will be opening the home up regularly to the public.”

The Durbin’s chose Firth’s EnviroPave - from the EcoPave range - for the driveway and paths surrounding the home, which also enabled them to meet the 90% permeable coverage requirements of the site. Firth’s Country Manor retaining blocks in ‘Rockface’ were also used for the low retaining walls on the property.

The paving is laid and the retaining completed and Murray is rapt with the finished look. “We used an experienced landscaper, Tyrrell Brown from Creative Outdoors, who laid the 130m2 of EnviroPave in a range of patterns, including a great herringbone format for the driveway which looks amazing,” he said.

“We decided from the beginning to work with several suppliers for this project with Firth being one of them. They helped us with colours and technical information on their products. With everything 99% compete it’s fantastic to see the kids running around in t-shirts with the house sitting at about 22-23 degrees with no additional heating in the home. So we are extremely pleased with what we have achieved. All the hard work was worth it.”

The home has also been built to stringent international Passivehaus standards, and with the addition of a vast photovoltaic array, will be producing a surplus of power.

To follow Matt and Lee Ann Durbin’s journey and the construction of their home, click here.

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