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Eco friendly living in NZ

Find information on green homes, sustainable design and eco living. View our business directory of products such as rain water collection, solar hot water, photovoltaic panels and house hold items.

Products & services in our business directory include cleaning products, building products, architecture/design, bamboo clothing, children/baby items and much more.

Join the conversation about green building and other eco topics in the online chat forum or look at our shop for great gift ideas.

Eco sub division in Matakana

Land and home packages available






Bare land and house packages available in the Matakana Green Eco Subvision (north of Auckland). There are 35 Lots all in excess of 815m2. The subdivision is located within walking distance from the Matakana Market and 4 acres (1.7Ha) of native bush in your backyard. All homes will achieve a minimum "Homestar" rating of 7 and each site is designed to accommodate a north facing "passive solar" dwelling.

View this eco sub division


NZ Eco Home & 6.9ha Property


For Sale is a beautiful 6.9 hectare property, including a modern and artful ecological dwelling, as well as several farm buildings. We call the property Livingtree.

It is situated in the Buller District on the beautiful South Island’s West Coast, just a 10 minute drive north of Westport (in the direction of Karamea).


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Bay of Islands Eco Hilltop Haven


A unique ‘European style’ eco-home made with adobe earth brick & timber, grass sod roof & natural rock walls, completed in 1999 to high specifications & generous proportions.

View this eco home
Part 1 - The Journey Has Begun



So the journey has begun. A long held dream to build an off-grid, eco friendly house is underway. My husband and I are recently retired and the build will be our major project for the next year. We have lived in our present house for thirty eight years, talking for the last fifteen about undertaking this project. So we haven’t exactly rushed into it! Meanwhile, of course, solar technology and waste water systems have improved, so perhaps it’s not a bad thing. John has considerable expertise in all things practical, being a Landscape Architect, and intends to be general dog's body in the build, while I'm not sure what my contribution will be. As a teacher of English in the past, writing about it may be my biggest input! Oh, and maybe producing the nourishing lunches...

Read part 1...

Part 2 - Sourcing Suppliers

It will be clear to anyone looking at the photos of our building site that there is a lot of work to do in getting it cleared. This operation is planned to happen in two weeks. We have a friend who has his own business in this line of work, and will bring his large digger in to clear the building site and create a wide driveway. The site is about 200 metres from the road entrance, and while a track exists, it will need to be substantially improved. He is in need of some landscape plans so we will off-set the cost of this clearing exercise against the cost of plans John will do for him.

Read part 2

Part 3 - Wood & Water

We are now getting down to the nitty gritty of build detail. The design concept has been resolved, the working drawings are all but finished and we are just waiting for the Engineer's input to be finalised. (Our fist delay, Engineers are in hot demand in Canterbury) In the meantime John has been spending a lot of time sourcing the timber for the main structural poles. Not wishing to use tanalised pine as suggested by the Architect, he has been trying to locate a more natural timber finish. Douglas fir is what we have had in our present house for the past 34 years, and all exposed beams indoor and out, are as solid as the day we built with them. All were treated with Protectoil when put up. But unfortunately there is some reluctance by the powers that be to allow this timber to be used in exposed situations.

Read part 3

Part 4 - Slow Steps

Progress with the plans has stalled over the past few weeks due to foundation design issues. Thankfully this is back on track and the resulting revised preliminary engineering design better represents the Architects initial concept. Still looking for construction timbers that appease our desire to use untreated material but so far the search is not resulting with suitable lumber. Have been shown a supply, locally, of a cache of Kauri, Rimu and imported Oregon that we may be able to use but will have to wait to see if it is acceptable to the Architect. Due to our time frame we may have to settle for conventional materials.

Read part 4

Grid connect solar power NZ
A great video about how Grid Connect solar works in New Zealand.

Watch the video...


The purpose of this project was to upgrade some parts of the house while at the same time improving its overall sustainability, as measured under the Green Homes Scheme, to achieve as high a Star Rating as practical.

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In 2011 Ellen and Casper Valentin purchased a section in Raglan and decided to build a certified Passive House (PH). In this article we follow their journey as they take the project from conception to completion.

Follow the story...


Solar panels in a cow paddock feed power to the grid from sunny Golden Bay - Twenty eight solar panels are producing more than enough power for one house-hold in Kotinga.

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The official results are out and it makes for some very interesting reading. The team at He Kainga Oranga have released their evaluation report of the government’s $340 million Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart (WUNZ:HS) programme.

Perhaps the most impressive result is the bottom line 4:1 benefit ratio. Put simply that means that the estimated net benefits to the community, when all costs are taken into account, are four times that of the investment.

That’s a pretty good rate of return.

Read the full story...

This is the most common question asked on the subject of solar power systems. People are naturally curious about a technology that can produce a long-term supply of electricity with no continuous financial input, environmental side effect, or lifestyle change. Yet industry, consumers, and government only seem able to relate the value of the investment to its simple ‘payback’.

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Electric vehicles (EVs) are an emerging form of transport worldwide which could help New Zealanders meet their private transport needs while reducing their climate change impact.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) is assisting the introduction of EVs into the New Zealand market, by working to overcome barriers such as uncertainty and inconsistency around standards.

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Vastu structures are vibrant connections to a universal-energy matrix. These structures resonate with the most sublime and powerful forces or “laws” of Nature, which are specified and generated by space/time/light.

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If our governments are sitting at the energy poker table with a full house in terms of renewables, why do they choose not to play their winning hand? There’s a hidden partner in this game, influencing their every move. Corporations, like casinos, are driven by short-term profit, not the long-term health of their customers. This isn’t just about greed; it’s enshrined in law.

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New Zealand is blessed with abundant renewable energy resources compared to many other countries, and this has helped achieve a high percentage of renewable generated electricity in our electricity grid. Large-scale renewable energy development, such as wind farms, geothermal, and hydro energy, already provides cost-effective and ‘clean’ electricity.

Another way of harnessing the power of New Zealand’s renewable energy resources is through small-scale generation, also known as ‘micro-generation’. This is renewable energy generation on a domestic or household scale.

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Open Source Ecology

The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts.

Watch the video

It’s time to consider a better way to get from A to B. We’ve been chugging around in our combustion engine powered cars since the oil began pouring out of the ground and Henry Ford’s factories started mass-producing affordable cars back in the early 1900’s. Around 60% of our fossil fuel usage goes to powering our vehicles.

Back then it made sense. Oil was cheap and abundant – if you drilled a shallow well in parts of Texas the black gold would pour out with very little effort. You would get around 100 barrels of oil from a well for every 1 barrel of oil (energy equivalent) used to get it out. These days it takes a lot more effort to extract and we’re hunting for the black gold in increasingly remote areas of the world and using increasingly damaging means to get at it.

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With the recent destruction in New Zealand’s second largest city it’s a good time to think about sustainable town planning. While existing cities often require expensive ‘retrofits’ of environmentally friendly features, there is an opportunity in Christchurch to begin with a semi-clean slate.

Town planning is often short-sighted and does not take into account inconvenient truths such as peak oil (and the general rise in the cost of energy). Given the amount of information there is on peak oil it’s obscene that often we don’t this into consideration.

New Zealand’s urban structure is generally characterised by sprawling suburbs surrounding concentrated commercial centres. Our public transport systems are mostly inadequate with the bulk of commuters relying on private cars to get around. In the near future the rising cost of energy is going to put a lot of pressure on our poorly designed cities.

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Our homes, our egos, and our environment

I think I’ve discovered the root cause of all our environmental ills. Okay, that might sound like an outrageous claim, but let me explain. The particular villain I blame for mankind’s relentless attack on the planets eco system is our Collective Ego.

The more I investigate, the more I see the fingerprints of this villain everywhere. Take for example the average New Zealand home. Not so long ago we were satisfied with a modest house, big enough to fit our family, the dog and a television. But somewhere along the line our egos became restless; we needed bigger, fancier houses. We wanted to outdo our neighbours – out-build them, out-furnish them and over-impress our dinner party guests.

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Kai Rakau Project

The Kai Rakau Project, currently being developed by Emma Williamson and Savannah Carter-Green, is a community based project with view to create a “Mother Orchard” of 3000 fruiting trees and native plantings, in Sanders Reserve, Paremoremo, Auckland, New Zealand.



More here...

Dealing with Christchurch Earthquake Sewage

This is a message to all those in Christchurch without adequate sewerage from Transition Towns NZ. "I have asked a permaculture teacher if there is a better way to deal with it than by burying in it or digging a long drop or using a chemical toilet. The answer from Bryan Innes is this, so please pass it on to anyone you know.

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Urban Forests

Forests provide invaluable ecosystem services. These include sequestering carbon, filtering pollution from air, limiting extremes in temperature, reducing stormwater runoff and increasing precipitation, to name a few.

In urban settings these kinds of services are especially important in counteracting the detrimental effects of city living to both health and psychological well-being. Trees can also be of economic benefit to a city by providing shade to the north and west of buildings during hot summers thereby reducing the amount of energy used for cooling, and raising the value of properties.

Read more on Urban Forests...

Too much building waste

Construction, maintenance and renovation of buildings account for around 40 per cent of the world's material flows, so it's always sad to see an old building reduced to a pile of rubble...

More about building waste...

Connected communities

Over the past century, unprecedented technological breakthroughs have advanced the development of cities and promoted a move away from agricultural lifestyles. In urban areas, people have become increasingly dissociated from the source of their food and completely dependent on monetary systems as their primary resource.

Read about connected communities

Disastrous consequences?

For more than ten thousand years the earth has been in a relatively stable state - a unique period called the Holocene, which has allowed civilization to evolve into what it is today. This desirable state is now under pressure from what scientists say is largely human driven change. The question is: how far can we go before our actions cause disastrous consequences, or is it already too late?

Read more here...

Seed store to save the world

Genetic diversity is the stuff that evolution is made of. It allows a species to survive by adapting to a constantly changing environment. When a species population size decreases, some of the building blocks of that species are lost, and hence some of its ability to adapt to change is lost. This diversity within crops is the biological foundati...

More about the saving seeds

'Green roofs' - An eco friendly covering

What if a city could support natural ecosystems? What if it could blend into the rural surrounds, manage some of its own byproducts, clean its own air and even produce its own food? Such a city would use green roofs.

Read the article on green roofs

Rubbish good for building your house

People have been building dwellings for over 14,000 years, largely using materials accessible in their immediate environments. Whether that be wood, stone, clay, reeds, or ice, the practice has always been to use what's available and abundant. It's only since the advent of modern industry and mass production that we have been using products that are mass produced, and then transported over often vast distances to reach our doorsteps.

Building with rubbish


Couple builds an off grid sustainable earth house

Couple builds an off grid sustainable earth house They decided to design and build a home that was eco-friendly and could generate its own electricity. They used rammed earth for the walls, mixed with concrete – it is 450mm thick. 16 solar panels sit on the roof, generating electricity and another eight solar panels heat the hot water. The eco house is very well insulated with double glazed window...
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Greywater expert backs Council approval

Greywater expert backs Council approval The Kapiti Coast District Council’s decision to approve Plan Change 75 and make the fitting of a greywater system and/or rain tank compulsory in all new dwellings has been applauded by an expert in greywater irrigation. Steven Roberts, Managing Director of Kapiti firm Watersmart, says legislating for the re-use of water from washing machines and...
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Smart choices indoors will help the great outdoors

Smart choices indoors will help the great outdoors While we can't all afford to build our dream "green" home, we are able to retrofit and apply practical eco-logic, making our homes more eco-friendly, with a smaller environmental footprint. Some houses tend to be easier to retrofit than others, and others are inherently greener and healthier, despite not being "consciously" b...
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Developing sustainable cities - Living Roofs

Developing sustainable cities - Living Roofs A critical element to achieve environmentally sustainable design is the incorporation of living roofs as a fundamental design principle to development in New Zealand. Living roofs have been demonstrated to reduce stormwater, enhance biodiversity, reduce energy requirements through enhanced thermal insulation, increase Green Star NZ score, provide h...
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A primary school with a green roof

A primary school with a green roof A New Zealand green roof company has put a small Queenstown Primary School on the international map by becoming the first school in New Zealand to wear a ‘green roof’. Remarkables Primary School, a newly built enviro school, is one of a handful of schools throughout the world who can boast a green roof, which doubles as an outdoor classroom. ...
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Sustainability explained through animation

Sustainability explained through animation A short animated movie which explains sustainability.
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Whangarei Sustainable Living Expo

Whangarei Sustainable Living Expo Come along to learn about all how making your life more sustainable can lead to a happy healthy lifestyle and possibly save you money! We will have seminars on the day on a wide range of topics and some great workshops and demonstrations including cheese-making and mid brick making. There will be a wide range of business displaying sustainable ...
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How grid connect solar power works in NZ

How grid connect solar power works in NZ A great video about how Grid Connect solar works in New Zealand.
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Cob Building Workshops

Cob Building Workshops We are building a cob fale in six stages – one stage per month. Workshops will be held to begin each stage. Workshop One April 26-28 – Plan, design and construction methods. We will also build a cob oven and outdoor cob bathtub at this workshop. The aim is to build the fale for as little money as possible. Cob can be a cheap, strong and very e...
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Off the Grid '13

Off the Grid '13 When we decided to build a home within a 50 acre block of forest in Matakana, the cost to bring power to the site would have been many tens of thousands of dollars. So instead we put solar panels on the roof, a battery in the basement, and now we have a home that's totally off-grid. This Awareness raiser/networking event is an opportunity to enj...
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Ecofest

Ecofest Nelson's annual sustainable living expo is a joint Council project designed to educate the public on how to live more sustainably. This includes stands representing eco-products, eco-homes, alternative power systems, sustainable transport, water and energy saving, kids activities, recycled fashion, growing your own food, and more! All supported ...
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Wellington Better Home & Living Show

Wellington Better Home & Living Show Are you wanting to improve your home and lifestyle in a way that cares for the environment? Then visit the Wellington Better Home & Living Show, where you will be treated to the same range of products and services found at our regular Home & Garden Shows, but all have an eco-focus. For three days from 3-5 May, the event will inform and inspire ...
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How we took our power bill from $900 in winter to $20 in summer.

How we took our power bill from $900 in winter to $20 in summer. Background In 2002 we built our house in the mild ocean moderated climate of Hobsonville, Auckland, with preformed concrete walls complete with built in insulation and concrete floor construction to all levels, topped off with a flat poured concrete roof waterproofed with flamed on industrial bitumen. We installed two large low tech solar hot...
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Building Sustainable Communities | Kapiti Coast's Greenest Street 2010-12

Building Sustainable Communities | Kapiti Coast's Greenest Street 2010-12 This report is the story of the 'Kapiti Coast's Greenest Street' competition - an initiative of the Kapiti Coast District Council. Two rounds of competition have engaged 84 households, and achieved an average environmental footprint reduction of 16%. And it's not just about the environment, although that's a strong theme. We've also seen increas...
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Tuhoe starts work on NZ's first ‘Living Building’

Tuhoe starts work on NZ's first ‘Living Building’ The new Tuhoe headquarters in Taneatua, near Whakatane, has been designed to have no environmental impact, be integrated into its surrounding landscape and to give back to the world around it. It will be the most advanced sustainable building in New Zealand.
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Five most commonly asked questions homeowners ask about solar power

Five most commonly asked questions homeowners ask about solar power Residential solar power systems are still a relatively new type of household expenditure in New Zealand, so I get asked a lot of common questions that I thought would be worth sharing. Following are 5 commonly asked questions about home solar power and my best attempt to answer them.
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Building with Earth - Graeme North

Building with Earth - Graeme North Graeme North, is a pre-eminent practitioner of eco-architecture in New Zealand. He specialises in eco-architectural designs that use mud brick or adobe, cob and other earth building methods; strawbale building; earthen and lime plasters, other natural materials, while incorporating appropriate technology. We were able to spend some time one afterno...
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Design Your Own Eco Home workshop

Design Your Own Eco Home workshop For those seeking only eco building information then day one is for you! By the end of Day 1 you will have covered all the key aspects of eco building Permaculture and Site Planning, Passive and Active Solar Energy Design, Materials (Straw bale, Earth and more), Electrical reticulating and Electrobiology, Plumbing for rain water harvesting and comp...
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NZ Ecohouse Journey

NZ Ecohouse Journey So the journey has begun. A long held dream to build an off-grid, eco friendly house is underway. My husband and I, John and Judy, are recently retired and the build will be our major project for the next year. We have lived in our present house for thirty eight years, talking for the last fifteen about undertaking this project. So we haven’t exact...
Read more...


Solar Microinverters vs. Central Inverters

Solar Microinverters vs. Central Inverters Traditionally, we have always used central inverters to convert the solar-generated Direct Current (DC) into Alternating Current (AC) – for use with everyday household appliances – because getting a designated inverter for every single solar panel was considered to be obtuse and costly. The bad news is, getting an individual inverter for each sola...
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NZ's first 8 star affordable priced eco homes, and they're quake proofed!

NZ's first 8 star affordable priced eco homes, and they're quake proofed! Architectural Designer Bob Burnett has overseen the completion of two affordable eco- homes designed to 8 stars, which will resist earthquakes, and both are owner occupied, this follows his design and rating of the first 7 star Homestar rated house in New Zealand in 2011 His next project which is currently in for building consent and to be built...
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Eco Houses

Do you own or live in an eco house? You can list your eco house on Ecobob for others to view. You can even sell your eco house.

You can make it easier for people to live in a sustainable way by listing your house as an example.

Browse eco houses | Search eco houses

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Green certification makes sense for corporate companies and businesses who are willing to invest the...

All, A week Friday(24th Oct) we are delivering an Introductory talk on the subject of designing your...

Our products offered are as follows: -Wood Pellets -Wood Briquettes -Chacoal (wood, soft wood, barb...

We have also worked with Independent Power in Albany for many years and they are very knowledgable a...

Polystyrene is recyclable.

Just don't like the environmental credentials of polystyrene - not recyclable, very flammable and al...

Howdy. Why your concern with polystyrene under the floor? I'm not sure what kind of insulation to pu...

Hi Suziebee Have you spoken with Independent Power in Albany? www.independentpower.co.nz I am not of...

After 15 years off the grid I believe the super low energy fridges are a must. Very expensive but un...

Flat plate solar hot water systems might not work very well in the south. But evacuated tube systems...

I've had an couple emails from a reseller and they seem to think it's find it works okay. These guys...

Hey Markdyer, you're certainly turning up some bits and pieces. In order of appearance: Unfortunatel...

For partial heating this looks interesting. 9 INCH DC WATER HEATING ELEMENT USED FOR 48V 1000 WATTS....

This is a tidy system that does everything. Not sure how it fits with the regs. https://alosun.files...

Is this the type of DC thermostat we should be after? http://store.mwands.com/dc-water-heater-elemen...

Hi there, We can sell you INVOLAR microinverters if your panels are suitable. Although they are only...

Oh darn......it's not goof.........it's good............sigh

Hi Uhtrinity, and thanks for your practical input. It's goof to hear some of what can be done (if no...

While we're raising some interesting and also invaluable points, we seem to be getting a little off ...

Uhtrinity posted: "As far as elements, there are many options.... ....parallel 3 panels at 30 v...

Uhtrinity For an unvented cylinder, your solution is illegal in NZ. The cutout cannot be switched by...

"Your solution for the over temperature thermal cut out is what?" Thermostat driven HV re...

Hi, I have read the Consumer report and it compares some models but there are now many more on the m...

In addition, with decent sun running 960 watts of panels (effective 800 - 900 watts), I see the bott...

Uhtrinity Your solution for the over temperature thermal cut out is what?

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