Solar roof claddings

### 28 Sept 2011 at 3:39 pm
Polymers could be key in affordable uptake of solar in homes and office buildings
By Sustain Team
We’re used to seeing massive solar panels strapped to the roofs of houses and office buildings, but a Victoria University lecturer says a process that incorporates solar cells into roofing materials could serve us better. According to Dr Justin Hodgkiss, these cells could provide all the energy used in a home or office building in New Zealand, at a more affordable option. Hodgkiss, a lecturer at the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, said conventional solar cells use silicon to absorb light and convert the energy into electricity. But processing silicon into a working solar cell is very expensive, with the high costs limiting the uptake of the technology by consumers. Hodgkiss is one of a number of local and international scientists who are investigating an alternative option of making solar cells from polymers or plastics. They are building on the work of Nobel Prize winning New Zealand scientist and Victoria alumnus Alan MacDiarmid who discovered the electronic conductivity of polymers. Hodgkiss said the major advantage of using polymers is that they can be dissolved to make an ink and then printed in sheets.
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Innovation, Inspiration, Media, People, Urban design

34 responses to “Solar roof claddings

  1. Hype O'Thermia

    Solar anythings will be a dodgy investment for most of us unless we can be certain that our sunlight will not end up being blocked by someone else’s buildings and trees. Since there is nothing to stop people blocking our garden and window sunlight I wouldn’t advise people to invest in anything more expensive than cheap garden lights which can be handy for marking paths and steps.

    • Elizabeth

      Perhaps you’ve never heard of district plan rules and revisions, or spatial planning ?

      It’s not all doom, go SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY.
      Locally, a certain roofing company is conducting its own investigations into solar roofing…

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    So Elizabeth, are you saying that if I go to the council and point out that my neighbour’s trees are now shading my section drastically in winter, getting to extend further and further into spring and autumn, he will have to trim or remove them because of district plan rules and revisions or spatial planning? Given the trouble other people havehad with huge trees belonging to neighbours I am skeptical but willing to be convinced.

  3. Elizabeth

    Legal remedy or mediation might’ve been tried and failed in your case, or not. Consultation on the spatial plan, due this month, is a chance to suggest remedy for potential adverse effects in residential areas / zones, especially where intensification is a likely aim. Glad I don’t live in suburbia. From memory, DCC is looking to provide for an additional 4,500* households at Dunedin in the next 50 years (spatial plan).

    *Need to check this.

    {confirmed as 4300 new households by 2050}

  4. Anonymous

    Dunedin’s growth is pegged at approx 20,000 people in the next 50 years?

  5. Hype O'Thermia

    Elizabeth, the impracticability of solar panels is not consequential on whether ones dwelling is urban, suburban, in the countryside or in a picturesque village. As long as you have hills you have shade, which can be assessed ahead of time, and as long as someone else owns land upon which something reaching up above winter sun level of your night-line can be build or grown, you have problems that cannot be assessed ahead of time.

    • Elizabeth

      Consult your iPhone for sun angle and sun access, or look up the draft spatial plan when it’s released – all mapped for Dunedin…right into the odd gully and chasm. Poor Dunedin, not. I don’t live in suburbia, to avoid the commuter syndrome. It’s CBD for me, thanks – I always select for sun / solar gain, elevation and views, little or no road noise, convenience, and sense of community (bach in the city) – more sustainable for the carless walker, all completely by choice. Trees complement, do not overshadow. Small town heaven, half a block off George St for copious native birds. Yep, don’t know much about architectural design at all. Dems the breaks.

  6. Phil

    There are all sorts of passive home heating alternatives which are growing in popularity. I rather like the concept of this one:

  7. Anonymous

    The best combination is passive house (which requries a rebuild for 90% of NZ housing stock) plus solar plus wind plus hydrogen fuel cell. Which requires a large rainwater tank, roof mounted panels and a hydrogen tank. Good luck getting consent for all that (or even explaining it to the consents people).

  8. Phil

    Thanks for the report link, Elizabeth. I haven’t read it through in any great depth, but I was interested to see someone finally highlight this country’s obsession with owning a house. It’s quite an outdated attitude and very much out of step with the rest of the world. Apart from the obvious financial implications of reducing the amount of money in circulation, it also shows how un-necessary modern living demands have become. Particularly in NZ and Australia. I remember reading that the average floor area of a stand alone house has increased by 50% over the past 50 years, while the average occupancy level of the same house has decreased by 25%. I’m not suggesting that we re-visit Victorian England over crowding levels, but maybe we should look at how much we really do need. After several years of very comfy and enjoyable apartment living in Europe, I was shocked to find that good quality apartments in NZ, if you can find one, were largely more expensive than purchasing a house. That’s just ridiculous and does nothing to promote the protection of local or national resources. Gated apartment or town house complexes are extremely popular outside of Australasia, and I’m sure they would be here too if there was a developer brave enough to lead the way. We can’t rely on local authorities to be pro-active when it comes to housing. While they do produce good reports, those reports do tend to be largely historical, reporting on their travels wandering along behind the developers who are the ones calling the shots.

    • Elizabeth

      Phil – your observations about housing are spot on.
      Love the glass roofing tiles – got a feeling an American visitor to the University of Otago a while back mentioned something like these (ridding snowload) on a experimental house he and students built using sustainable/recycled product available off the web, need to track that info tomorrow.

      I occupy a small footprint and dammit it’s fun – admittedly, I try not to look at the lack of finish, maintenance and presentation most landlords provide for their market rents. I’ve had just two CBD apartments since moving back to Dunedin in December 1989 – once the landlords get past the panic of (student) annual leases and realise they’ve got a long-term tenant they settle down to realistic annual rent reviews and the total lack of kicked out wall panels.

      Look at the size of Harvey Norman furniture – McMansion required. With six bathrooms. I couldn’t get one of their armchairs up my dogleg stairwell.

  9. Phil

    We enjoyed a great existence in a body corporate apartment block as a couple. We had a 2 storey apartment totalling 125 square metres, which included 2 bathrooms. It was one of the larger apartments in the building. That’s not much more than half the floor area of the average new house in NZ. The building also included remote storage within the building for each apartment, so you kept in your apartment only what you needed. No junk. The property had a large garden area for residents’ use, hobby rooms, a gym and library, and a large kitchen/dining facility that we could book if we wanted to have our own party. And I never had to mow a single blade of grass. I’ve never had a cleaner property, nor so much free time. And my money wasn’t tied up in something that was more than what I needed. That helped everyone’s economy. I’d do that again in a heartbeat if it were on offer.

    • Elizabeth

      Not exactly in the ‘sustainable housing’ (for the aged) category… institutional developers in the private sector not quite up with the play, as yet. What is design?

      ### ODT Online Wed, 5 Oct 2011
      ‘Village’ for 200 approved
      By Dene Mackenzie
      Summerset Group Holdings plans to start developing a $60 million retirement village on its Balmacewen site as soon as it can following the granting of resource consent this week. The consent was non-notified and there is a 15-day period to allow for appeals. The village will be called Summerset at Bishopscourt, following suggestions from locals, and is sited in Chapman St, although the entrance is likely to be shifted to Shetland St once the development is started.
      Read more

  10. Hype O'Thermia

    I understand what Phil and Elizabeth see as advantages in non-stand alone housing but for those of us who love gardenING as opposed to looking at, sitting in, gardens a house is the way to go, a house with a decent sized section. People have different passions and for many of us the need for connection with the land hasn’t been bred out. Gardens, for us, provide food for spirit as well as body. They are our keep-fit program, space for our pets, places to encourage birds with winter feeding to supplement bird-food trees. Lawn mowing is my least favourite garden chore but I know others who enjoy it, the mental blob-out that combines relaxation with physical work with a pleasing result. I understand what some people find appealing about high density accommodation but myself, I’d go stir-crazy. I support more *permission* to have varied accommodation constructed, refitted, whatever in the city, more freedom for private owners and landlords, concentrating on “is it safe, is it acceptable within the neighbourhood i.e. not butt-ugly, does it interfere with existing users” so anyone could turn a building next to heavy industry into housing but it would be up to the initial developer or private home builder to make it accommodate the existing noise, dust, smells etc. I get really cross when people complain about long-established neighbourhood use and demand that THEY be forced to change – yes, I’m still crabby about the Arc Cafe fiasco.

  11. Phil

    I had to shake my head at that one. If there was ever an example of the tail wagging the dog. Instead of the DCC telling the developer which areas were suitable for a high density limited mobility residential development, they have, again, silently plodded along behind the developer. Exactly what does one study at planning school ? Plonking (potentially) 400 people into an area with limited public transportation, limited shopping within walking distance, limited healthcare facilities within walking distance, and into a hill suburb where many of new the residents may not be so mobile. There’s zero planning involved there.

    Could the planning department of the DCC not walk up the stairs to the property department and ask them why they have only a 30% occupancy level in their EPH units in the same area ? They have had to sell off complexes or lease them to private investors because the area is not suitable for people with limited mobility.

    The rot starts at the top with the District Plan and the so called policy planners. I’d be interested to know exactly what policy it is that they are following up there.

    • Elizabeth

      Given the number of young inexperienced planners (some of them managers, holy hell) at Dunedin who have studied via the regional planning coursing at University of Otago it’s no wonder they have NO idea of design or town planning – which is not the same as rote learning and application of RMA law.

      The planning profession needs a major shake-up in the professional accreditation stakes; and councils need to get past their blindnesses as to what Planning (and City Development ?) must be about. Some very shonky stuff happening at DCC Planning in all its divisions.

      Why on earth the resource consent application for a development of this scale wasn’t publicly notified I will never work out – the effects of it are hardly minor.

      Screwy DCC rides again!

  12. Hype O'Thermia

    See why I’m not confident of any sensible “plan” that would make it worthwhile for a person to invest in solar heating? The neighbour could so easily argue that building a Tudor-Mediterranean “quality” battery housing complex to within half a metre of the boundary is worthy of a teeny weeny alterationette in the rules.

    • Elizabeth

      Beware living next to me for I am both a tree lover and a tree poisoner. My drill bits are amazing. They also work on planners.

  13. Hype O'Thermia

    I’ve been slaughtering evergreens this winter. Native-schmative, if they cast gloom they’re firewood. Native birds don’t seem to give a tweet one way nor t’other about the ethnic origins of their food.

  14. Calvin Oaten

    Get over it folks! Summerset Group Holdings is in it for the quick profit. By the time it is realised that the dopey planners had been suckered on this one, and the disadvantages of the site manifested, the main movers in this will have taken the money and moved on. It’s what “successful developers” do.

  15. Phil

    And why a well known local developer (and recent forum contributor) starts up a brand new company every time he develops a new area. So that he can quietly wind up the company on completion, disappear into the mist, and avoid any nasty repercussions as a result of that latest get rich quick scheme.

  16. Phil

    If this were anywhere else in the world, the local authority would be redeveloping exisiting ageing areas instead of continually opening up new areas that lack the infrastucture to cope. The northern and southern suburbs would have rebuilt by now to ensure a decent standard of living for all corners of society for generations to come. But we’ve got what we’ve got.

    • Elizabeth

      The spatial plan workshop (residential) was about members of the community mapping where residential development (private sector) could occur, recognising sprawl is bad. Most opted for areas close to existing ‘village’ shopping centres, the central city, schools, services and public transport. The groups were well thought in terms of urban design criticalities and sustainability. Historic heritage was taken into account. Mixed communities, ageing population, sun access, mobility access, and so on were considered in the group sessions. Great results, impressive. Who needs consultants.

      Phil, I think you would’ve liked what happened. How it’s written up and translated by the council’s spatial plan team is the unknown.

  17. Hype O'Thermia

    What do you mean “redeveloping exisiting ageing areas” – clearing a scruffy neighbourhood of its low-income inhabitants so it could be rebuilt? Gentrification, their community replaced by nice housing they can’t afford to live in? Of course they’ll love the shiny new tower block the local authority builds some bleak place to solve the housing need that’s been created – yeah right. Or was that tried somewhere else and it didn’t work all that well?

  18. Phil

    No-one is talking about throwing people out of their homes. It’s about making sure that no-one lives in a home that is substandard by current regulations. Occasionally it does happen that the reason for the housing area no longer exists, such as a major factory or other such employer relocating to another part of the city. In those cases the local authority works with private developers to develop a more suitable area and relocates those people into that area, retaining all the social synergies that existed previously. There are current examples of whole towns being moved to follow the expansion of the mining industry, for example. Because the local authoritiy is the controlling force, there is not the unreasonable price increases that we have in NZ with private developers. What I’m saying is that many other countries have a policy which does not allow for new developments without first addressing any outstanding issues within existing populated areas. Only when existing areas are shown to be of a suitable standard, and it is proven that the existing areas no longer meet the needs of the population (such as overcrowding or proximity to employment areas), are new developments considered. Developers work with local authorities, with the local authorities leading the way in determining which areas within their region are best suited for development or redevelopment. I suspect that you’re trying to steer this towards the “Nelson Mandala House” type tower block estates, which is not the way this has worked for 40+ years. You can knock it all you like, but it works. And society is better off, right from the lower income earners through to employers.

  19. Phil

    It continues to amaze me, Elizabeth, that the planning department doesn’t work more closely with the GIS department within the same building. It takes a couple of clicks of a mouse to find all the vacant land within 2km of a particular school, or within 200m of a bus route. That spot can then be marked on the map and developers told that is the place where they can build. I know the spatial analysis system is great, it just seems to fall down when it comes to utilising that information in a practical way.

  20. Anonymous

    So, over 40 years we are planning for around 20,000 new people (about 4 per new household). That’s very slow growth – 5% over 40 years. And an indicator of many of Dunedin’s problems – while a city is more efficient than a sprawl of dispersed settlements, at a certain headcount it is relatively more expensive, not cheaper, due to the high cost of infrastructure shared amongst the small population.

    • Elizabeth

      Anonymous – in the workshops we looked at those areas where the infrastructural capacity is already maxed out (or near to); we were required to take this into consideration when suggesting areas for new residential development (intensification). We also had to ‘move’ existing South Dunedin households to safer ground…

      As Housing New Zealand well knows, “household” is a term that requires increasingly strenuous planning / urban design / architectural thinking in relation to community groupings, cultural and ethnic diversity, meeting dwelling needs for family, non family, seniors, singles, and …

      I’m not sure that the definitions of “household” were properly explored when setting “4300” new households as a local target. Hopefully, the draft spatial plan contains enough discussion to cover this – if not submitters will need to interrogate!

  21. Calvin Oaten

    Around July/August 2002, Cr Malcolm Farry, chair of the economic development committee announced that Dunedin would have 1,000 extra people per year and 140,000 population by 2021. Further, it was the intention to create 2,000 new jobs by 2005 and a further 4,000 in 2010. I kid you not, it was published on the ODT 23/7/02. On the strength of that he and Peter Brown proposed that the city should set up a high risk venture capital market fund of $1million. Fortunately, this did not get up and running. It was all a bit of Farry bravado aimed at saving Dunedin (he specialises in that) due to the previous census revealing that Dunedin’s population had decreased by 4,000.
    So Anonymous, whilst you might think that 20,000 more people over 40 years is very slow, it ain’t going to happen. Dunedin has reached and passed its apogee, relax and enjoy. The days of constant growth are over and the cities which adapt to this reality first and best will prosper, albeit in a totally different manner. Watch the Aucklands of this world slowly disintegrate under the weight of over population, under utilisation of people resources and over utilisation of finite resources and energy. The world is awash with debt which cannot possibly be repaid. Consumers can’t consume without credit, and this is now becoming unavailable, so production will/is slowing as the markets dry up. We are all in for a rough ride whether we like it or not, so best batten down the hatches. Forget about growth, until a new economic order arises, we will see a race to the bottom. Dunedin is perhaps better placed to be last in this race. Except for the fact that the council and its acolytes will keep meddling by building stadiums, conference centres, museums etc increasing our indebtedness as they do. Sheesh! did I say all this?

  22. What is the hang up? Give these bright people the resources to make it happen!

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