EnviroWaste - Separation at source is key to construction waste minimisation


By Richard Doubtfire, Auckland Regional Manager-Collections EnviroWaste

Construction and demolition waste make up half of New Zealand’s total waste going to landfill. In growth areas such as Auckland, the amount of building and construction waste going to landfill is expected to surpass 600,000 tonnes a year – about 85 percent of Auckland’s total waste sent to landfill. That’s four-to-five tonnes of building waste per new home.

No wonder both councils and government are pushing waste minimisation initiatives.  Changing the economics of waste management is at the top of their list, with an expected increase to the country’s waste levy likely to swing the balance in favour of recovery and reuse. However, levy increases only do so much, and industry players must look closer at their own practices to make a real difference.  

Where to look

Designing waste out of a system should be covered in the project plan rather than as an add-on. And the best place to start is where there’s most waste. An Auckland study shows construction waste by weight is made up of timber (20%), plasterboard (13%), packaging (5%), metal (5%) and other (45%). The same research estimates that simply by sorting waste, at least half of it could be diverted from landfill and clean-fill.

The Canterbury earthquakes raised interest in finding recycling options for treated construction timber. Traditionally, industry has shied away from using treated timber as a fuel source, fearful of releasing harmful substances into the environment. However, advances in incineration are opening the furnace door wider to bigger volumes of wood waste. For example, Golden Bay Cement has substituted nearly a third of the coal it burned for wood sourced from demolition and construction waste, in the process cutting CO2 emissions by 58,000 tonnes a year and shaving $3 million a year from energy costs.

Native timber is perhaps more attractive as reusable building material, with several small businesses around the country connecting buyers to sellers and making a buck in the process, with one – Palmerston North-based Reclaimed Timber Traders – making the claim that recycling a house can be cheaper than demolishing it. In fact, if the house was made of native timber, then deconstructing it could cost just about nothing, after the recovered materials were sold, they say. In one case, a classic 1950s 120-square-metre weatherboard home was deconstructed in Auckland, with 87 percent of materials saved from the dump. In comparison, the average house demolished in Auckland created 22 tonnes of waste.

How about plasterboard? Almost 100 percent of waste plasterboard is recyclable, with gypsum – a sulphate – used as a fertiliser, in compost, and as a constituent in many forms of plaster.

And then there’s specialised recovery and reuse, such as Auckland-based Asona, which is developing a cost-effective system to refurbish soiled and damaged ceiling panels. The project is likely to dampen the demand for the one million-plus square meters of ceilings currently shipped to New Zealand each year.

The problem with high building costs

The current building boom has sharpened the focus on minimising waste related to new green-field housing and commercial developments, where the high cost of building makes it cheaper to over-specify materials rather than wait for them to be delivered. Recent research from AUT suggests ‘over ordering’, wastes approximately $30,000 worth of material for every house built. What’s more, in cities such as Auckland, where a construction boom continues and a skills shortage forces up prices, changing procurement practices is likely to meet resistance.

Small is good

But herein lies the opportunity for on-site materials management plans to avoid waste. And this is where EnviroWaste has a role to play. Historically, developers have pushed back on recovery and reuse for practical reasons – there’s no room on site to accommodate the number of bins required to capture different families of waste.

Times and bin sizes are changing. EnviroWaste has developed a smaller bin designed for cramped building sites. Smaller bins, which measure 2.47m long by 1.22m wide and 1.8m high, allow more bins on site for separation. Compared to the standard 9m bin, EnviroWaste’s bins are 280mm narrower and 1.2m shorter. With more bins on site, construction projects are able to take advantage of recycling, separating timber, plastic, metal, and clean-fill, which are picked up and transported to various recycling facilities.———————————————————————————————————At Homeco, we couldn’t agree more with the above article. We sort our waste at every step in our manufacturing and construction process. Here’s a picture of Hamish at our Off-site Manufacturing Facility with the waste from 3 homes worth of Structural Insulated Panels.  



ANZ Bank today announced a Healthy Home Loan Package for homes rated Homestar 6 or above.

ANZ's amazing offer includes a 0.70% discount off the standard fixed home loan rate, 1.00% off the standard floating and flexible home loan rates, plus fee waivers across a range of accounts!

And if the homes in ANZ's promotion look familiar, they are the very same Homestar 6 homes, built using Homeco's exclusive KiwiSIP building system that we showcased last year in the Superhome Tour!

Read more here: https://t.co/ihVa62MtNV and call Hamish Lamont on 0275 355 355 to find out how you can enjoy the benefits of one of Homeco’s Healthy Homes.

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Cheaper Homes for Everyone! Prefabulous!

This week we attended the launch of the Combined Building Supplies Co-op. This Co-op brings together building companies (eventually from all over New Zealand) to give them buying power superior to the largest single companies. If we can buy cheaper building products, we can build cheaper houses! Build with Homeco and this benefit is passed directly back to you!

We were fortunate to spend time with both City Counsellor Glenn Livingstone and Housing Minister Phil Twyford, who thought this Co-op was so significant he made a special trip to Christchurch for the event. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xep52UgOHS4

Though I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to Politicians, Phil impressed me with his enthusiasm as well as his polish. Talking to him, he gets the scope of the job at hand as well as some of the solutions required to help “fix” the housing problem.  

One of those solutions is Prefabricated Building; what we at Homeco do when we build a house.   

So, below are 7 advantages of Prefabricated building; Homeco style.

1)      Time Savings: We run parallel works streams, meaning that work can take place simultaneously both in the factory and on site. We can build a house in around ½ the time of a conventional home. Time IS actually Money and this can save lots on your finance cost, not to mention the outright convenience of being in your new home sooner.

2)      Healthier: Studies have proven that when a home is well insulated and better sealed, you and your family will have less illness (lower rates of colds, flu, asthma) and a generally better quality of life. And we all want that!

3)      Stronger: Tests on a home we recently built in Lincoln showed 160% of New Build Standard in one direction and 220% in the other. Impressive stuff! If you live in Earthquake Zones like we do, that’s great peace of mind! Plus, being so strong, our homes need less expensive structural steel, saving you thousands on your build cost!

4)      Cheaper to Run! Being Warmer and Drier, Homeco homes are cheaper to heat. Little things like 100% LED Lighting also contribute to a huge saving on your power bill, at least $1,000 a year with our Minimum Homestar 6 rating; and much more if you include solar hot water and Photovoltaic Panels

5)      Less Environmental Impact:  Our Panels are made almost entirely from sustainably produced and recycled  materials. Our engineered wood uses  97% of the Tree and even the insulation is a recycled material. Because our panels are pre-engineered, on site waste can be reduced by as much as 90%. When you think that in a typical build many builders use up to 12 skips (around $6,000 that’s passed directly to the homeowner!) it’s a pretty big save. Your money as well as the Planet. With less heating and cooling required, your Homeco House even has lower carbon emissions! (We’re not called Homeco for nothing).

6)      Reduced Weather Exposure: Because our structure is built inside in a factory controlled setting, then erected on site within a couple of days and made weather tight immediately afterwards with a permeable membrane, the potential for moisture being trapped within the building is massively reduced. Excessive exposure to heat and moisture results in ongoing quality issues with your home, so maybe this one should be Better Quality!

7)      Better! Warmer, Drier, Quieter, Safer. Yes, I know that’s 4 reasons. But the point is a Homeco Home outperforms a traditional home by every measure.

I could go on and on about why our building system is prefabulous! But if you want to know more reasons why a Homeco Home is by far the best home for you and your family, call Hamish on 0275 355 355!     

The Shame of the NZ Building Code

So let’s share a bit of context. Did you know that the New Zealand Building Code is around 20 years behind that of the rest of the developed world in terms of energy efficiency standards? Yet over 95% of homes built in New Zealand are built ‘just’ to code - the minimum standard allowed by law.

At Homeco we believe that everyone should enjoy the benefits of a better home… not just the status quo. We’re working hard to achieve that, with our very own unique SIPs (Structurally Insulated Panel) based building system, plus lots of other cool innovations that we’ll share with you later.

In the meantime, if you’re curious, here’s a short documentary that’ll give you an overview of the local ‘big picture’.


Kia ora. Welcome.

Welcome to the Blog Page of Homeco Ltd.

This is where you can find out about our business, as New Zealand's first Iwi-aligned Builder of attainable, energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable, high-performance homes. We'll also share information on what's happening in the local market, as well as overseas trends, and a heap of info on the latest energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable and downright cool building products.

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If there's anything that you'd specifically like us to cover, or to find out more, just drop us a line.

Or feel free to call us: Hamish on 0275 355 355 or Rhys on 0210 285 7969.

Hei kona mai.