Ian Van Eerden

Northrop’s Senior Sustainability Consultant, Ian Van Eerden recently presented at the Improving Residential Energy Efficiency (IREE) Conference at the University of Wollongong. 

The conference highlighted the widening gap between the quality and efficiency of buildings that we work in and those in which we live.  Despite our better understanding of building performance, tightening of the National Construction Code and the introduction of BASIX, we have made almost negligible progress in the efficiency of our housing stock over the last decade.  In conjunction with reduced energy efficiency, we are also witnessing a significant impact on health and mortality rates among our most vulnerable communities. 

As sustainability consultants, we have the opportunity to work with some amazing clients who have a strong commitment to the sustainability of their buildings – for their environmental performance and in making them healthy places to be.  It came as a surprise when Dr Phillippa Howden-Chapman pointed out that the dwellings we give to our least advantaged people, often fall into unhealthy comfort conditions, which fail World Health Organisation (WHO) standards for temperature and humidity.  Installing minimal insulation and draft stopping windows and doors could result in as much as a 600% return on investment when you look at reduced hospitalisation rates (for the elderly) and improved school attendance (for the young).

By comparison, commercial office ‘sick building syndrome’ was acknowledged by the WHO back in 1984 and standards were updated to avoid creating spaces that would negatively impact on occupant health and wellbeing. Northrop is focusing on the next generation of wellbeing in office buildings, which incorporates actions to encourage healthy sleep patterns, connection with food production and active lifestyles – far beyond simply being comfortable in the space. 

Why do we not expect to have the same comfort in our homes as we do in our offices?  

If you would like to find out more please contact Ian at  

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