On a recent trip to New Zealand, I was interested to hear how “green” the construction is, whenever I could talk to someone about it.
A realtor-in-training told us that she didn’t think anyone was building “sustainably,” nor would there be a premium price paid for a green-built home.
At the geothermally-active area around Rotorua, at Whakawewarewa Thermal Village, our Maori guide explained how the old whares (houses) were built directly on the ground, to heat the small living spaces with natural heat.
The modern village houses, only 30-40 years old, are built on proper foundations, to conform to local building codes. And they’re heated with standard oil heaters, even though the steam, mud and water is bubbling up right beside the houses, or in some cases, veins open up underneath the houses!
But, trust the west coast to show the green side of the country. Are all west coasts of countries somehow more forward-looking?
It wasn’t until our drive to the gorgeous surfing town of Raglan that we started to see wind farms, geothermal plants, a nuclear reactor (What’s that about? Not only in a volcanic area (as is all of New Zealand) but near a major faultline that has, only 2 years ago produced a serious earthquake on the south island.) Correction: The cooling tower is not part of a nuclear power plant (I had learned that New Zealand is nuclear free, so I was confused). According to Wiki:
The majority of New Zealand’s geothermal power is generated north of Lake Taupo. Seven stations generate electricity here, includingWairakei Power Station, New Zealand’s oldest (1958) and largest (176 MW) geothermal power station, and the world’s second large-scale geothermal power facility. Also in this area are Nga Awa Purua, which is home to the world’s largest geothermal turbine at 147 MW(although the plant only generates 140 MW); and Ohaaki, which has a 105-metre tall hyperboloid natural draft cooling tower: the only one of its kind in New Zealand. A significant amount of geothermal electricity is also generated near Kawerau in the eastern Bay of Plenty, and a small amount is generated near Kaikohe in Northland.
And, wouldn’t you know it we almost-by-accident, ended up staying a night in a hostel called Solscape, in the native bush five kilometers from Raglan.
There are homemade and commercial solar hot water heaters scattered around the site, and small solar power generators to supply energy for LED lighting. (Although they do use power from the grid, too.)
all showers are solar-heated
Although short, our stay at Solscape proved informative. I was encouraged to see such efforts at sustainable living in the interesting islands of New Zealand.
Little Red House’s Mosaic Monday
The Creative HomeAcre’s Hop