Less and More in Aotearoa New Zealand: More Houses and Less CO₂ Emissions
Authors: Hall, Min
This paper outlines the case for further research into an expanded use of bio‐based materials for housing construction in Aotearoa New Zealand. Not only are large numbers of houses required to address ongoing shortages, but there is also an urgent need to address climate change. The embodied
CO2 emissions of the materials used to construct the future housing stock are, therefore, critical and warrant further investigation. Bio‐based materials have very low CO2 emissions, and some of those grown in Aotearoa New Zealand, are currently underutilised. Over 40 percent of straw, a byproduct of grain production, is currently burned in the field but it has the potential to be used on the scale necessary to satisfy current and future housing needs. Engagement with grain growers and researchers is necessary in order to further the research, as is gaining an understanding of overseas developments in prefabricated straw construction. Public perception is also important. Seventy years ago and facing a similar housing crisis, an attempt was made to introduce an alternative construction method, soil cement, into mainstream building practice. The reasons for Terracrete’s forward‐thinking but ultimately unsuccessful venture are considered when speculating on a contemporary response using an uncommon material.