One of the really interesting and beneficial side effects of rebuilding our city is that we will be tracking towards energy efficiency in a way that was unprecedented before the earthquakes.
In the commercial sector the new buildings that are being built all over our city and in particular in our central city are being built to new building standards which incorporate much improved insulation, double glazed windows, the use of heat sinks, heat pumps and a general appreciation for the need to build in an energy efficient way.
Some buildings are deliberately being built green, others will be green just because they are built to modern building standards. That will change the energy profile of the commercial buildings in our city to the better.
In our household sector there are approximately 25,000 homes that have an excess of $100,000 of damage that will be rebuilt or repaired. Of those, 10,000 will be rebuilds and of that total almost 20,000 will be cash settled, private controlled repairs or rebuilds. In the process of rebuilding or radically repairing houses they will be subject to the new building code and will incorporate high standards of insulation and other designs to promote and enhance energy efficiency. There are examples in this city already where new builds of approximately the same area of the house they are replacing and have reduced the energy consumption by 60-70%. The most important component in this is insulation. Well insulated houses are warm, energy efficient houses and a direct investment in family health and financial wellbeing.
However, there is a significant proportion of our community who are still seriously disadvantaged with regard to ensuring their houses are warm and safe and that they have insulation of a standard required to deliver reduction in heating costs and health benefits to the household.
It is important as we begin to demonstrate, in the context of the rebuild, an evolution towards one of the most energy efficient cities in Australasia that we take care of those people who need help in this context.
One of the agencies that has been material in improving the insulation in Canterbury is the Community Energy Action Charitable Trust (CEA). CEA has been operating in Canterbury for 22 years and has insulated over 20,000 homes. It can provide subsidies to low income households to create warmer, drier and healthier homes. With highly trained and experienced assessors and installers it not only provides subsidised assistance but also offers a professional non-subsidised insulation install service. This is a worthy cause which has demonstrable benefits.
There is a direct correlation between warm homes and reduced absenteeism from school and businesses due to sickness. Recently released findings from the Healthy Home programme, that CEA was involved in, which provided insulation and/or heating to 900 high health needs hospital patients within Canterbury, showed a nearly 30% reduction in hospital bed days for those patients who were assisted, which in turn saved the Canterbury District Health Board nearly $1 million in the first year. It irrefutably showed that investing in insulation is investing in improved health and wellbeing.
The difference insulation makes to a home is something that most of us do not think about when building or renovating but the results can be dramatic. Insulation provides heat retention while reducing the amount you need to spend to heat your home to keep it at a healthy temperature. Having an energy efficient heat source is also important. Homes that leak heat, leak money.
At the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce we believe that insulating homes and commercial buildings is investing in our future. We want Christchurch to be recognised as one of the most energy efficient communities in the southern hemisphere and we encourage people who can afford to insulate their homes to do so. People who cannot afford to insulate should seek help from organisations such as the CEA. It really does make a difference.