Sustainable Habitat Construction

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Prefabricated and affordable 2 bedroom house, CPIT, $160,000


Prefabricated and affordable 2 bedroom house, CPIT, $160,000

Less glass, ceiling-height doorways and smart lighting - engineers and builders join forces to make better use of conventional building techniques. Affordability is key, the home is even designed to be built room-by-room, as funding permits.

Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Members: 3

Vision for More Sustainable Housing

Team Canterbury (CPIT, University of Canterbury and Lincoln University) developed its concept entry based on four key requirements:

  • To maximise energy and water efficiency within the parameter of low-cost housing criteria.
  • To minimise waste product during construction by careful consideration to design.
  • To create a building using materials and elements of design that allow for deconstruction and recycling.
  • To enable the house to be transportable.

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Fact Box

  • Team Canterbury is building a new, low-cost, more sustainable house using timber framing and carefully considered conventional building techniques
  • Number of Bedrooms: 2
  • Number of Students: 55
  • Number of Professionals and Volunteers: 14
  • Estimated Cost:
  • Energy: Extra thick walls and insulation mean low energy requirements. Sun capturing north facing windows, Efficient heating heat pump.
  • Water: Low-flow appliances
  • Materials:
  • Waste: Construction waste minimised
  • Indoor Environmental Quality:
  • Affordable and Suitable for Purpose: The house has been designed so that it could be built in sections, as money is available.
  • Supporting a Sustainable Community: the house is transportable, and can be moved.
  • Selling for under $180,000


CPIT’s Dennis Winter developed the housing plans based on building specifications provided by Canterbury University Engineering students. CPIT’s Interior Décor and Interior Design students have provided sustainable furnishing concepts from paint and colour schemes through to wall and floor coverings; and the Trades Innovation Institute staff and students are involved in the build.

Key Elements

Power: Grid tied system with provision for night rate meter and renewable alternatives such as solar PV should they become economically or environmentally sensible. Use the power from the grid if available as it will be the most cost effective option unless a $20,000+ grid connection fee becomes eminent. Hot Water Heating: An active solar evacuated tube system coupled to an on demand electric booster will be specified. Ensure that the $1000 government solar energy grant is attained by having the solar system installed for less than $5800. The design has a central living/kitchen/dining area with modular bedrooms off either side for effective heat flow into bedrooms from the passive solar and heat pump or small pellet fire.

Lighting: Compact fluorescent lights to be used throughout the entire home. Sensors for outdoor lights will minimise excess lighting while providing safety and security. Maximise use of natural lighting for living areas. No heat-leaking, low throw ceiling recessed spot lights!

Appliances: Energy star rated appliances are highly preferred with the highest star rating products purchased for the most cost effective price. All appliances will be sized according to the household requirements. A power meter unit will be installed to provide energy use information to the occupants as a type of feedback loop to help establish less wasteful behaviours.

Water: The main goals for this category is reducing mains water demand to 90 litres per person per day and reducing storm water runoff. State of the art high–velocity shower head and aerated sink faucets are specified. Hands-free kitchen fixture and a timer device in the shower will manage wasteful behaviour.

Waste: The goals for our waste category are to reduce waste during construction and implementing sediment and erosion control during construction and operation.

Materials: The house will have a 150mm thick wall, with R3.6 insulation. The roof will have R5 insulation and the floor R1.3. The living area floor will be tiled to add thermal mass. This also reduces the amount of dust and allergenic substances in the house that reside in carpet. Two materials that are hard to dispose of are Pink Batts and treated timber. It is requested that during construction, the tradesmen take extra care when installing Batts, to make for a thermally tight house, and also to make it easier to remove the batts and reuse them at the end of the buildings life.

Land Use: A preliminary site lay-out has been proposed with no pavement, 70% of garden dedicated to foodproducing species and raised-bed structures. Purpose-built concrete compost bins installed behind the home as is the rain-water collection tank.


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* SHAC-TeamCanterbury-FinalReport-HIRES.pdf (13MB)
* SHAC-TeamCanterbury-Interiors-Appendices.pdf (5 MB)
* SHAC-TeamCanterbury-ConsentDocumentation.pdf

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