Low carbon rules: an interdisciplinary approach to writing standards for earth and straw construction in Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • YEAR
    Hall, Min
    Morris, Hugh
    North, Graeme
    2020 Conference Papers
    Conference Papers
    Construction, Building Materials & Integrated Technology


In order to realise a future where a variety of low carbon building options is readily available, their consenting needs to be supported by relevant standards to assist their path through the regulatory process. The recently published suite of revised and expanded Earth Building Standards, NZS 4297-99: 2020, does just that. The product of a collaboration between a team of architects, engineers, builders, consenting officers, and academics, the standards provide normative and informative guidance for using a wide range of earth and straw building techniques. A key aspect of the interdisciplinary collaboration involved testing of both materials and testing methods included in the revised standards. These standards enable a ‘low-tech’ approach, making self-help methods available to owner builders, including simplified material testing with low cost equipment. This paper reviews the standards development including testing of materials, verification of low-tech material testing. Given the challenges associated with the changing roles of government and other stakeholders, the problems that arise when the maintenance and development of building standards relies heavily on industry funding, an international collaboration is proposed with lobbying for national government support for on-going development.

Keywords: Earth construction; straw bale construction; building standards; low carbon.


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