Wool insulation more desirable due to its health benefits

Southland insulation business owner was instantly converted to wool after researching to develop his company. 

James Carter had been insulating homes for 30 years before he made the switch to wool. He is also seeing others attitudes shift towards wool as people value health and sustainability. 

Carter says that fitting fibreglass batts on hot days is what stopped him from using them. “When the sunlight’s coming through the window, you can actually see the glass floating in the air.” 

Carter thinks that a lot more people are starting to realise the health benefits of wool and are willing to pay a bit more for an overall better result for their bodies. 

On average, wool insulation is about 25 to 50 per cent more expensive than fibreglass alternatives. However, wool’s sustainable fibres can retain 33 per cent of its weight in moisture and regulate temperatures – making its insulation much better.

Fibres from wool are biodegradable, renewable and do not affect waterways, unlike fibreglass insulation. Wool’s ability to absorb common chemicals and pollutants, such as formaldehyde, means wool insulation also improves air quality.

Carter’s wool is grown and produced in the South Island meaning his supply chains are not affected like traditional fibreglass insulation being transported from Auckland. 

He believes it should be endorsed more by the Government through its Healthy Homes initiative. 

“I certainly think it’s a growing industry, it just needs a push to make the public more aware of the benefits”, he said.

John Greene CEO of Canterbury’s Green Dog Insulation comments “at Green Dog, we always offer woollen insulation as a premium environmental option to those interested in green alternatives.’ 

Campaign for Wool NZ chairman Tom O’Sullivan believes educating consumers about the natural sustainable properties of wool whilst expanding wool-based products could help the current crisis within the shearing industry.

Adapted from Laura Hooper (Jan 23rd 2022), Wool gaining traction as sustainable insulation alternative. Stuff.



New Building Code – biggest response and update in a decade

The new Building Code receives the biggest response and energy changes in a decade.

After receiving its biggest response in 5 years the new Building Code update was released on the 29th of November.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment calls the change in Building Code the “biggest boost to energy efficiency rules in over a decade.” The change helps the building and construction sector support New Zealand to reach its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The 2021 update aims to make new homes and buildings more energy-efficient focusing on insulation requirements and climate zones.

The new Building Code introduces a verification method for the efficiency of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC). Additional changes include introducing suitable daylight solutions and weather tightness testing for high-density housing. Roof insulation requirements have doubled for new houses being built in New Zealand.

These adaptions make it easier to show compliance with the Building Code.

Six New Climate Zones

The new Building Code divides the country into six climate zones which reflect the weather in different parts of Aotearoa. “We recognise that regions across NZ have very different climates, and the six new climate zones announced today mean buildings will need to be constructed to different insulation levels to reflect this,” says Jenni Tipler the Ministry’s Manager of building performance and engineering.

New requirements will reduce the energy needed to heat homes by up to 40% according to the Ministry. This will lead to positive health impacts and increased energy savings for New Zealanders.


Nearly three-fifths of submitters favoured the most ambitious option presented by MBIE, which would see new commercial buildings required to use a quarter less energy for heating and cooling than existing standards mandate. In the end, most climate zones will see a reduction of between 20 and 23 percent.

Climate zone four, which covers the central North Island, the Wairarapa and the West Coast, will face the most stringent requirement of a 30 percent reduction in energy usage. The new standards also differ across building types. Schools, for example, are expected to reduce energy usage by only about 10 percent. Healthcare centres would generally become 34 to 36 percent more efficient, though those in climate zone four would see a 50 percent increase in efficiency. Offices would be required to use 22 to 34 percent less energy while shops would face a smaller reduction of just 18 to 25 percent.


Implementation / Roll Out

Most of the changes are expected to be implemented by the end of next year.

Requirements will be introduced over the next two years – the first year a transition period for the majority of the changes while the window insulation requirements will follow a two-step approach. Tipler says this allows the sector to prepare for the changes before they become mandatory for new builds.

“By the end of 2023, all parts of the country will have a similar minimum level of window insulation requirements,” Tipler says that they have engaged with industry stakeholders to ensure that the changes being asked are readily achievable across the country.

This year’s update received an overwhelming response reflecting the high level of public interest.  The update received more submissions than the last five years of updates combined.

According to the ministry, this feedback will help contribute to meaningful change and more certainty around how the building regulatory system will respond to climate change.

Requirements for walls have been left mostly unchanged because of timber supply issues. The report stated that more research is needed on new construction methods before wall rules can be changed. Design changes to wall framing under new rules also pose difficulties.

The ministry has promised to lay out protocols around how it would ensure that stronger rules are followed.

Further climate-related building regulations, including a cap on emissions from energy used by building occupants, are expected as part of MBIE’s Building for Climate Change programme next year.

Adapted from Radio New Zealand, Building Code changes to boost new houses’ energy efficiency, https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/456818/building-code-changes-to-boost-new-houses-energy-efficiency and New Building Code Requirements Bring Biggest Energy Efficiency Change In Over A Decade, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment Press Release https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2111/S00769/new-building-code-requirements-bring-biggest-energy-efficiency-change-in-over-a-decade.htm and Newsroom, Building Supply Shortage impedes climate targets, Marc Daalder https://www.newsroom.co.nz/building-supply-shortage-impedes-climate-targets

Pandemic slows down New Zealand living standards – Building Code

Stresses on supply chains due to Covid-19 cause officials to pull back from supporting warmer housing.

Pandemic disruptions force up prices, inflation and wait times which delay urgencies to raise New Zealand living conditions.


Institute of Architect’s chief executive Teena Hale-Pennington wants to match and go beyond international standards. Their ability to put new standards into place depends on the availability of materials and supplies.

“I think we ultimately will get the outcome that we’re all looking for, it’s just going to take a little bit slower, more cautious start.” Hale-Pennington expects housing to lag behind any upgraded standards for commercial buildings.


New Building Code


Changes in the Building Code will be announced at the end of November as new standards are put in place in response to Government climate change moves.

The Institute of Architects and Green Building Council’s chief executive Andrew Eagles says this is absolutely essential because our Building Code is woeful by international standards. Eagles expresses concern that it has already been two years living with supply chain issues, and we can’t afford to sit and wait another two years. “And further, there’s going to be even bigger changes three years later.”

The annual health benefits of better insulation have been put to at least half a billion dollars.

The Green Building Council believes buyers can cope with the tougher Building Code as extra costs pay for themselves over time.

The Council believes that the bold approach requires a change in direction away from the current ways of designing and constructing buildings and that a longer transition period would be expected with a phased implementation approach.





Adapted from Phil Pennington, Supply strain stresses hit building standards change https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/supply-strain-stresses-hit-building-standards-change/3XPNHTG6SAJWDPQHKPINKYTXBE/