Business of the Month – Performhaus

Business of the Month – Performhaus 1000 747 The Flyer Magazine

Business of the Month

Performhaus – building energy performance

Queenstown passive housing consultant Kat McGregor’s skills and knowledge have been in hot demand lately as new homeowners look to be warmer, more sustainable and save on energy bills.

Kat launched Performhaus in 2019 amid a growing awareness about the importance of designing healthy, comfortable, energy efficient homes. A friendship with local building scientist Denise Martin, who now works for Oculus Architectural Engineers, introduced Kat to the exciting new realm of passive housing and before long she was hooked on her newfound passion. “I built my own house with what I knew back then but Denise, and studying, taught me so much more,” says Kat. “I will change so much when I do it all again.”

Formance-SIP-Panels-being-installed

Formance SIP Panels being installed.

Kat-McGregor

Kat McGregor.

She studied through the Passive House Institute of New Zealand and is now in demand, consulting for people all over the country who are keen to build energy and cost-efficient, air-tight homes.

“There is a small increase in price per square metre for the initial build because this concept is not what we are used to here in New Zealand, but with forward planning it’s so worth making that sacrifice because of the savings you make long term,” says Kat. “There are also health benefits that come from a warm, dry, well ventilated home,” she says. “I tell people to invest in their thermal envelope now and leave the marble benchtop – that can come later,” she says. “I encourage them instead to build passively as much as they can. It’s that important,” says Kat. “Each person needs to work out what’s most important to them in their build, what they value and how this can be incorporated into their home.”

Kat does passive housing modelling for everything from apartments and small homes to large homes. “I have a wide range of people coming to me who are all really interested in doing better,” she says. They want to know how their house will perform and whether they can change their concept designs to achieve a much better result.”

It’s about encouraging people to be consciously improving the way they build, thinking long-term.

There’s been an increase in awareness around sustainability in homes since last year’s main Covid lockdown and people are looking for better construction and design, as well as lower energy bills.

“If your thermal envelope is efficient your home will be well insulated, air tight and well ventilated,” she says. “If you don’t have a well thought out envelope based on your location, climate, etc, and at least double glazed, low-emissivity windows with thermal broken frames, your house becomes an energy sinkhole for money.”

Kat assists new homeowners wanting to achieve passive housing certification, working off the plans, or to be as energy efficient as their budget allows. It’s all about doing better than we are currently, she says.

There are five main requirements for a home to achieve certification:
– Continuous insulation
– High quality windows and frames. Clever windows maximise free heat gains from the sun during winter and appropriate shading and glazing to remain cooler during summer
– Continuous airtightness and weather tightness
– Reducing thermal bridges
– Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems

During the past year there’s also been a greater awareness of the health benefits of good home insulation, Kat says. Denise is an expert in moisture management and is now working with Asthma New Zealand assisting in creating healthier homes for Kiwis. “If you’re living in a cold, damp house then your body can’t usually work to the same optimum it can when you’re in a comfortable 20degCelsius environment,” says Kat. Dampness is a big problem in Kiwi homes, she says. It leads to mould which can affect people’s well-being.

“This community is so amazing with its better living groups who want to see people healthier and more comfortable in their homes,” she says. “They all look out for each other and help each other.”

Ultimately, Kat would like to see the German Passive House co-housing concept operating in Queenstown. This can be developed in the form of apartments or clusters of smaller homes that all share communal facilities, recreational spaces and vegetable gardens.

For further information and to get in touch visit the website.