Eco-building out of the blocks


A Queenstown apartment building at Arthurs Point has created a construction industry milestone.

It’s the southern hemisphere’s largest multi-storey building to be built with an energy-efficient, insulated concrete block system.

The exterior and interior walls and foundations of La Residence du Parc are constructed with the polystyrene foam-based Nudora building technology.

It’s reduced the construction timeframe for the four-storey 48-unit complex – due for completion late this year – as well as the amount of heating and cooling equipment required.

And for the occupiers, it’s expected to cut power bills by 50 to 60 per cent.

Resort architect Tony Koia recommended the Canadian product to developer Aedifice Queenstown Ltd.

Aedifice director Tim Medland says: “It’s your responsibility as a property developer these days to push the boundaries a bit and do something a bit different because the traditional methods are just a way for builders to maybe increase their margin.”

Aside from Koia’s recommendation, Medland also took advice from a Queenstown building company principal who’d built with Nudora in Canada and the United States for about 25 years.

Medland says the cost is similar to traditional techniques, “but it’s like buying a Toyota and getting a Rolls Royce”.

“You only had to walk into the building in April or May, when it had no roofs on, and it was warm.”

He estimates it’s taken about three months off his construction time.

“One of the other reasons we chose Nudora was we knew it has extremely strong specifications for earthquakes and wind, and [the former] is very important in Queenstown in the next 100 years if what they’re telling us is true.”

Its fire rating is also more than four times that of traditional wooden-framed buildings, he says.

Nudora’s South Island distributor is Queenstowner Chevy Chisholm, who’s used the product in local homes she’s co-developed.

She says close to 80 New Zealand homes have employed Nudora technology, with about half those building projects – either foundations or full houses – in Queenstown.

La Residence du Parc, however, is the first South Island commercial project.

“We’ve done another couple in Auckland but not as big as Tim’s.”

Chisholm says the product performs at a passive house standard.

“In terms of [NZ Green Building Council] Homestar ratings, it gives you one of the highest ratings.”