16 March 2019

It’s not until you speak to the team at Health Based Building that you realise the building industry is not only a significant polluter of the environment but modern houses are also unhealthy, which is a real shock.

64% of construction waste is non-recyclable, and most of the materials from a demolished house go to landfill.  Everyone talks of the great, healthy outdoors. Nearly all of us spend up to 90% of our time enclosed in buildings – indoors in some way or another. The problem is, as human beings, we don’t ensure our wellbeing within any space. It’s the external objects within the area around us that shape our health. The walls, floors, doors, paint, soft furnishings, fittings, substructure – everything and anything that is chemically advanced, synthetic, processed, or treated.

It’s with this knowledge that Casey Thompson & Robin Curtis embarked on a 10-year journey to clean up the building industry and develop a solution that wasn’t only better for the environment, but also better for your health.

“We knew we had to develop a solution that was better”, says Robin. “The current crop of common to market building materials has taken the building industry as far as it can go in the development cycle. Environmental factors alone wouldn’t win us business; we needed to be affordable as well as offer a performance-based solution that is cheaper to maintain and run. Homes built from Health Based Building materials outperform traditional buildings on measurable performance indicators like energy consumption, humidity levels, and air quality”.

The team at Health Based Building have achieved this by developing a range of sustainable materials. These include high-performance breathable wall systems, solvent-free paint, natural wool insulation, low impact-treated framing, and exterior claddings, all of which are 100% recyclable and nasty chemical free. Casey’s own home is an example of how good the measurable performance is. It is a 400 plus square metre house running at 18-21 degrees across every room, with 40-48% humidity and an energy consumption cost of only $200 per month. Of importance to this outcome,  is that no mechanical ventilation system is involved.

The problem is that traditional buildings focus on air tightness for warmth, this is achieved through the use of common to market building materials and coatings. This comes at the cost of moisture entrapment which requires expensive energy sapping ventilation systems to manage interior humidity levels. In effect homes built from common to market building materials need to be connected to life support. The Health Based Building solution manages the humidity level before heating and ventilation are brought into the equation. Their breathable walls ensure good air quality and low humidity levels throughout the house which creates a warmer, drier and healthier home environment.

This is where the building industry needs to be heading, but when you’re challenging the industry’s big players who prefer the status quo, it requires a customer-driven revolution. “People are becoming a lot smarter; there is certainly more focus on the environment these days, my 10-year-old daughter is asking a lot more questions, she is challenging her teachers to become more environmentally focused. This next generation won’t accept environmental ignorance” says Casey.

Throughout this journey, the Health Based Building team has had the support of Nexia New Zealand. “They’ve been embedded in our business from the beginning, they have a deep understanding of our systems and have the horsepower required. They give us confidence we’re ticking the boxes from a compliance perspective, but where they add value is their advisory & business planning expertise” says Robin.

Craig Melhuish, Partner at Nexia New Zealand, manages the relationship with Health Based Building. “It is important to us that as our clients grow, or change the strategic direction that they understand the implications that this has on their business. Understanding where your client has come from, and where they are heading is vitally important when advising them. Health Based Building is a great client to work with, they’ve got a vision and are very passionate about what they do. It’s been great to be part of their journey and to see them evolve from a traditional timber merchant to a building solutions brand with a strong online presence”.

The future is very positive for the Health Based Building team, government agencies are taking note of what they are doing, and key players in the industry recognise that they are years ahead of the competition. “It’s exciting times; we’re working hard to educate the builders and architects. We’re also looking to ramp up our operation and will be looking at our options around capital raising in 2019.” says Casey “So having a trusted partner like Nexia will become even more important for us over the next 5-10 years”.

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