Embracing Sustainability in Challenging Times

It’s been a challenging time for so many over the last few years - and the construction business has not escaped these challenges.  With an estimated 34% increase in the price of building materials, New Zealand wide projected timeline delays and new consent requirements, things have been tough.  Together with pandemic disruptions and increase in stress in the workplace, the industry has been under pressure.  As a global economy, the construction industry is one of the top consumers of raw materials and contributes 25-40% of carbon dioxide emissions.  With all this in mind, it could all feel pretty overwhelming.  Things need to change and this is reflected in the people; more and more of us are looking for sustainable products, practices and feel a real desire for doing things differently.  

Elemental Design and Build is built on these values of sustainability, health and wellbeing, always looking at how to construct a bridge from the current reality of the construction industry toward an ideal future; doing it in such a way with the hope that it will create new ways of doing things within the industry, to relieve pressure and create goodness.  Systemic change often comes from within, and Elemental Design & Build are humbly working on encouraging the building industry to embrace healthier ways of doing things.  

There is a pressing need for sustainable design and development to reduce energy consumption and pollution.  A real life example of how Elemental Design and Build embodies this change, is where the timbers for the Common House of the Takaka Cohousing Neighbourhood have been sourced. The Lusitanica Cypress logs being used for the post and beam frame and external boards of the Common House have been sourced locally in Onekaka (15 km away) and milled onsite. The internal flooring, skirting and architraves is Eucalyptus Botryoides timber from Riwaka (50 kms away).  When recently Graeme (Elemental’s master builder) was working on the timber framework for the Common House, he needed four extra oversized logs for this project.  Due to the relationships that Graeme has created in the community with local landowners he was able to find those logs and bring them direct to his mill at the workshop that sits on the land at Meihana Street.

There’s a particular quality of enjoyment for Graeme, to make a beam from a raw log from a local source.  The reduction in transport costs and the environmental footprint together with being able to mill his own timber that will then be part of a build, only metres away, is the living and breathing essence of the value of sustainability that Elemental has at its heart.  

Sustainability isn’t just a buzz word for Elemental, it’s how they operate; as and when they realistically can.  However, it’s not perfect and there’s so much room for improvement and growth.  Part of what is a needed shift in the mindset of our culture and communities; is to begin to demand healthier homes and structures that we live and work in, educating ourselves and becoming aware of how we as consumers can be (and essentially need to be) part of the change.