Tuhoe Te Uru Taumatua: New Zealand’s first ‘Living Building’

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The affectionately known ‘Tuhoe building’, Te Uru Taumatua, is New Zealand’s first living building - built to the International Living Future Institute’s ‘Living Building Challenge’ criteria. The Living Building Challenge requires sustainability across the entire lifespan of participating project builds, from design and build through to building operation, ensuring sustainability across seven areas; site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. When completed, the building has to demonstrate that it is triple net zero, this means consuming zero net energy, producing zero waste and zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

To date, only 15 buildings across the world have been built to the standard. The main aim of the certification is to improve the land, place and community surrounding the building area, while simultaneously ensuring that the build results in no negative impact of any kind on the local environment. Organically, this can often result in the restoration of the local ecosystem in the area in question.

The building was designed by architects Jasmax, and the project was completed by a dedicated team ranging in age from 24-84. Kingspan worked alongside the design team at Jasmax.

As heating and cooling can often account for 30-40% of energy use in a building, high-performance insulation solutions were required to ensure that the building could function as efficiently as possible and achieve triple net zero energy status. Kingspan Insulation Boards were used on both the walls and the roof to deliver the level of thermal performance necessary to optimise energy efficiency. 

As is required as part of the ‘Living Building Challenge’, sustainability permeates every aspect of the Tuhoe building, from the inclusion of sophisticated systems to deal with wastewater, on-site energy generation and the use of native logs through certified mills to build the structure. Not only did the building break the mould as the country’s first Living Building Challenge building, it also achieved a world-first for its seismic resistant timber structure, proving, as we already know, that sustainability and innovation work hand in hand.  

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