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Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

NZIA Environmental Policy Print E-mail

The New Zealand Institute of Architects Environmental Policy has been adopted by the Institute and initiated the publication of these Environmental Position Papers and other activities aimed at informing architects on current environmental concerns.



With a move to greater awareness of resource conservation generally and the associated topics of energy efficiency and environmentally sympathetic non-toxic materials, it is vital that architects and the developers of buildings recognise that they have an important part to play in such a process.

Those who commission the buildings and invest the capital to produce them can favourably influence the design approach adopted by the design team. The eventual environmental impact of the end product, the building, can be influenced greatly by the attitude of the architect and the initial developer.

As the end-users of the buildings become more aware of the issues involved in the environmental impact of the building is likely to become a major determinant. “Green Architecture” is the architecture of the future

This policy considers the issues of air quality, material selection, planning, education and advocacy.


1. natural environment

1.1 CO2 production

Reduce CO2 production and the associated impact on the Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change by:

• responding to threats of coastal erosion, flooding and associated damage to places of cultural and historical significance, population redistribution and changes in the location of biological patterns such as termites, borers, fungi, algae and insects.
• reusing existing built forms when appropriate
• reducing the fossil fuel consumpotion by the choice of appropriate heating and cooling systems

specifying products that in their manufacture contribute least to the production of CO2

• the better management of all existing CO2 producing systems
• designing to reduce CO2 production from inefficient transportation systems
• encouraging revegetation of proposed and existing developments

1.2 ozone depletion

Reduce the use of Ozone Depletion substances and the associated impact of ultra-violet radiation by:

• minimising the specifying of refrigeration and air donditioning systems incorporating CFCs
• not specifying Halon fire extinguishers
• not specifying products or systems using CFCs as propellants in aerosol spray applications
• not specifying insulating furniture or packing foam products incorporating CFCs in their production.

1.3 rain forest destruction

Reduce the destruction of vital world tropical rainforests and the resultant impact on global climate change by:

• not using any form of imported tropical hardwood

1.4 resource depletion

Reduce non-renewable resource depletion by:

• designing buildings and mechanical plants which are energy efficient both in their operation and creation
• designing buildings which maximise the use of renewable energy forms
• not specifying products which are non-renewable energy forms
• encouraging the use of efficient transportation systems
• planning our built environment to respect resource management considerations and maximising the re-use of existing resources.

2. built environment

2.1 Increase the quality of the built environment by:

• maintaining and enhancing the natural environment
• designing to reduce the impact of negative macro design aspects such as wind, shade, noise, dust, vibration, glare, flooding, increased water levels, surface water, and drainage problems.

2.2 Increase the quality of internal environment and so increase user satisfaction and reduce work induced illness by:

• encouraging aspects of the natural environment to dominate in design of new or refurbished buildings
• reducing the need for high-technology-type solutions
• maximising natural ventilation systems
• maximise daylight use
• maximising energy efficient systems in terms of heating, cooling and artificial light tosuit building use, climate, zone and quality requirements
• specifying products and systems which reduce and, where possible, eliminate the emission of contaminants such as lead-based paints, asbestos, formaldehyde-releasing products.

3. education and advocacy

3.1 the profession

Transfer the policy document to working reality by:

• encouraging individual NZIA members to produce their own practice guideline
• the National Management Group and Branch Task Groups monitoring resource conservation long-term and report to Council on required action as appropriate.

3.2 the industry

Informing and manufacturing, supplying and servicing sectors of the significance of the policy by:

• raising client awareness of the benefits of an environmentally sound practice
• informing the industry of the significance of this policy of product manufacture, supply and servicing.

3.3 the wider community

NZIA has a commitment to promote this policy actively by:

• participation in legislative process
• engaging in local environmental issues
• advocacy at every opportunity.

January 1992

“The above is a refereed paper and as such represents current thinking on the subject.”