The Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 caused significant damage to the Christchurch building stock. However, it is an opportunity to build more comfortable and energy efficient buildings. Previous research suggests a tendency to both under heat and spot heat, meaning that New Zealand dwellings are partly heated and winter indoor temperatures do not always meet the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Those issues are likely to be explained by design deficiency, poor thermal envelope, and limitations of heating systems.
In that context, the thesis investigates the feasibility of building an energy efficient and cost-competitive house in Christchurch. Although capital costs for an energy efficient house are inevitably higher, they are balanced with lower operating costs and improved thermal comfort. The work is supported by a residential building project using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels. This atypical project is compared with a typical New Zealand house (reference building), regarding both energy efficiency and costs.
The current design of the CLT building is discussed according to passive design strategies, and a range of improvements for the building design is proposed. This final design proposal is determined by prioritizing investments in design options having the greatest effect on the building overall energy consumption. Building design features include windows efficiencies, insulation levels, optimized thermal mass, lighting fixture, as well as HVAC and domestic hot water systems options. The improved case for the CLT building is simulated having a total energy consumption of 4,860kWh/year, which corresponds to a remarkable 60% energy savings over the baseline.
The construction cost per floor area is slightly higher for the CLT building, about 2,900$/m² against
2,500$/m² for the timber framed house. But a life cycle cost analysis shows that decreased operating costs makes the CLT house cost-competitive over its lifetime. The thesis suggests that the life cycle cost of the CLT house is 14% less than that of the reference building, while the improved CLT design reaches about 22% costs savings.
Project contact is Eric Wood at Morrison Hershfield
The study assesses the potential of mass timber multi-unit residential construction as it compares to traditional methods including concrete and steel in terms of cost competitiveness, cost effectiveness, financial value and ROI. The analysis will include potential limitations of existing building codes, how the codes support or constrain the use of mass timber, including impacts to affordability, and whether further industry and government support of tall wood construction is needed to integrate it into Canada’s housing supply. To inform the analysis, the study produces base case archetypes for concrete and steel structures, and then create a series of comparative archetypes mass timber structures and hybrid structures in the range of 7-12 storeys.