Sustainable Habitat Construction

Building a Better Way

Steering Committee

Bill Curry

Bill is currently working on a project with two partners to develop a range of domestic wind turbines. Their aim is to make the process of powering houses wholly or largely with wind accessible on the property much easier in all ways than it is now.

Prior to this project, Bill worked for Fisher and Paykel Appliances for 18 years in a several engineering based roles including being part of the team that developed the Dishdrawer product, and more recently leading the Engineering Services group which provided CAD, simulation, data management, materials engineering and prototyping services to the wider engineering group.

Bill and his partner Kim live in a house which is a high mass construction, and is not connected to anything: grid, water, waste water or phone.


Charlotte Fitzgerald

As Community Development Manager with McConnell Property, Charlotte provides a people context across residential and commercial / industrial projects and input into the organisation's sustainability strategy and culture. Charlotte has a wide property background, having also worked as a policy and research manager and lawyer.

Associate Professor Susan Krumdieck, University of Canterbury

Susan’s energy research is focused on innovations aimed at continuity of human activities and wellbeing within the constraints of environment and resource availability. She has organized an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Canterbury AEMS Lab. The team has close ties with industry including power companies and other service providers, and we have several international patents in the last few years. Our strategic research is aimed at defining and assessing sustainability, creating the fundamentals of the low-fossil energy system, and conceiving bridging technologies and control systems to manage the transition to sustainable systems. This is a truly innovative approach that has already yielded new insights and new ideas which have received acclaim at international
meetings and conferences.

Dr Maggie Lawton

Dr Maggie Lawton has a PhD in Chemistry and a BSc in Biochemistry. She has worked as a researcher and general manager in the DSIR, ESR and Landcare Research before starting her own research and consulting business in 2006.

Maggie has led programmes of research into integrated catchment management and worked with organizations on urban development and environmentally sensitive urban design. She was the project manager for the design and construction of the sustainable building owned by Landcare Research on the Tamaki Campus of the University of Auckland. The building won an EECA award for energy efficiency and a green ribbon award for urban design.

Maggie currently contracts to Beacon Pathway where she leads their water research. She also works with local government on water supply and integrated water management and with organizations interested in considering how to strategically address sustainable development.

Nick Collins

As General Manager for Beacon Pathway Ltd (Beacon), a research consortium focusing on sustainable housing, Nick Collins brings not only twenty years experience in the building and construction industry, but also in-depth knowledge of the latest building research.

Nick has headed Beacon since 2004, responsible for developing a clear Strategic Plan focused on the key priorities to bring about sustainability in the residential built environment. Major projects underway include: building 100 NOW Homes® in partnership with group builder to drive uptake of sustainable new homes; and the NOW Home® Renovation project focusing on improving New Zealand’s existing housing stock. Nick works with stakeholders from central and local government, industry, infrastructure and consumer groups to facilitate and encourage wider change.

Originally a geographer, with an MA (Hons) from Canterbury University, Nick has worked largely in the building products market, in companies such as Pryda Reid, Auckland Brick and Tile, and Monier Bricks. During this time he was instrumental in the setting up of a National Trade Training Qualification for roof tilers. In the mid 1990’s he returned to the University of Auckland to complete an MBA to develop his financial / commercial skills.

Nick was invited to contribute to Auckland City Council’s Mayoral Sustainability Taskforce in 2006, and oversaw the development of a web-based guide to sustainable building ( for the Ministry for the Environment.

Paul Thorsnes, University of Otago

Paul studied Economics at the University of Oregon in the US and is a senior lecturer in the Economics department at the University of Otago.  Paul’s research interests are generally in urban economics, with a primary focus on the economics of housing markets.  An ongoing interest is in understanding the housing-market impacts of local amenities, such environmental quality, green space, and local public services.  A recent focus has been on better understanding the market values of, and home owner preferences for, for exposure to the sun and improvements in home heating efficiency.

Robert Vale

Robert Vale is an architect, writer and researcher in the field of sustainable housing. He is currently Professorial Research Fellow at the School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington.

He studied architecture together with Brenda Vale at the University of Cambridge, and in 1975 the Vales published "The Autonomous House", a technical guide for developing housing solutions that are self-sufficient, environmentally friendly, and easy to maintain. The book has been translated into five languages and is widely recognized as a basic text in the field of green building.

Through the 1980s the Vales designed a number of very low energy commercial buildings in England, notably the thick-walled, superinsulated Woodhouse Medical Centre in Sheffield, and wrote “Green Architecture”.

In the 1990s the Vales completed the first autonomous house in the United Kingdom, a four-bedroom house for themselves in the historic town of Southwell. Their book "The New Autonomous House" documents the design and construction of this house, which is warmed and powered by the sun, produces its drinking water from rain, composts its effluent, and is consistent with its historic context. The house is completely off-grid except for the telephone line and a connection to the electrical supply for the exchange of solar electricity. They then designed the Hockerton Housing Project, five one-storey zero-emission terraced houses. This was the first zero-emission development in the UK and the government has recommended that the project be copied by developers throughout the country.

Since emigrating to NZ eleven years ago the Vales have completed two zero-emissions upgrades of existing houses, and also developed the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) for the Australian government.


Charles Willmot

IPENZ Director – Engineering

Charles’ main interests lie in the area of waste reduction, treatment and disposal. He along with a number of others founded the Waste Management Institute (WasteMINZ) in 1989 and currently Charles sits on the Board. Whilst employed as a Senior Advisor at the Ministry for the Environment in 2002 he helped write the New Zealand Waste Strategy and a number of other policy papers relating to national sustainability issues. Now as Director of Engineering at the Institution of Professional Engineers he is keenly interested in ensuring that sustainability issues are adequately addressed by IPENZ and that Members address sustainability in their work.


SHaC 09 Staff

Tim Bishop, SHaC 09 National Coordinator

Tim trained in engineering in the USA, and is now a researcher in Energy Studies at the University of Otago focussing on energy use in residential housing. To this end he has recently surveyed the Dunedin housing stock with researchers in the University of Otago Economics department, and he has contributed to several reports and papers on upgrading state houses for thermal comfort and low energy use with Bob Lloyd in the Department of Physics. Tim is also a Co-Chair for Solar Action, the New Zealand renewable energy advocacy group based in Dunedin.

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