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Spray Foam Insulation – The obvious choice for Social Housing projects

NZ Foam team up with Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust on the “Warm & Dry” Project

Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust (OCHT) manages a portfolio of approximately 2,300 community homes in Christchurch. It owns some of the houses outright, but the larger proportion it manages on behalf of the Christchurch City Council. All rental properties across the country need to be brought up to a minimum standard with respect to heating, ventilation, draught-stopping, moisture ingress and drainage, and lastly, and – most relevantly to NZ Foam – insulation. OCHT is actively working on it’s properties in 2021 to meet these standards - and they call this programme the Warm & Dry project.

The reason for OCHT choosing to use NZ Foam spray foam insulation was driven by a feature common to the homes we manage, skillion roofs. This type of roof is actually exempt under the legislation, which means that the work that would otherwise be required can be deferred or omitted altogether due to the prohibitive cost to bring houses with skillion roofs up to the new insulation code, which in our part of the country is R Value 3.3. Skillion roofs aren’t accessible without removing either the internal lining or the entire roof, each of which create considerable extra work, disruption and cost.

As most of the OCHT houses’ skillion roofs are no deeper than 100mm, fibreglass batts would not have provided the R Value they needed within that limited space to meet the new code. NZ Foam spray foam insulation on the other hand, provided the minimum R Value at only 50mm. Christchurch City Council and OCHT made a commitment to exceed the minimum requirements of the Healthy Homes legislation wherever possible, so therefore chose to replace the roofs and insulate with NZ foam spray foam as it was most cost effective and the least disruptive approach for our tenants.

OCHT are continuing to collect anecdotal data from their tenants of their experience of the newly upgraded homes, including the ease and ongoing costs of heating. While the project is still being completed across OCHT houses at publishing time of this article we are unable to determine the specific effects/benefits of the insulation in the OCHT project specifically and whether the Warm & Dry project as a whole has resulted in an improvement in tenants’ experience. NZ Foam and OCHT aim to work together to publish an updated article at the completed of the Warm & Dry project with data and results.

The above paragraphs were submitted by OCHT on behalf of the Warm & Dry project.

NZ Foam spray foam - meeting the needs of social housing projects

We’re going to be honest; our spray foam insulation costs more to purchase and install than other products on the market. However, it also offers a comfort level far beyond what the other products can offer. The former may be why many social housing agencies are hesitant to install it in their new builds, and the latter is why they should.

The benefits and savings social housing tenants will receive over time in power bill savings will have major impacts on their quality of life and the ability to provide for themselves and their families in other crucial areas like education and food. For the housing owners; never having to replace/upgrade your insulation ever again for the lifetime of the buildings is a benefit that is second-to-none.

We calculated that for the small cost of ditching one cup of coffee a day for 4 years, building owners would have covered the current maximum install cost difference between spray foam and it’s competitors, and be set up to continue saving money for the rest of the buildings’ life.

Spray foam, combined with a robust air circulation system, can increase longevity of social housing alongside providing the maximum comfort and health benefits to tenants in need throughout New Zealand. To us, this makes spray foam insulation a no-brainer for not only new build social housing projects, but retrofitting into existing properties where possible.

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