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Kāinga Ora: The Smart Home

Kāinga Ora, formerly Housing New Zealand, started its assessment of home performance in 2017. With the aim of ensuring their tenants have warm, dry, and healthy homes, they sought data-driven evidence to identify any issues in their housing portfolio and determine the most effective solutions to address them.

The Smart Homes Pilot was introduced in January 2018 to trial in-home sensors (measuring temperature, humidity, light, and ventilation) in approximately 170 Kāinga Ora properties. The purpose of the pilot was to test the use of sensors (as a proof of concept) and to understand how data from the sensors could be used to:

  • Inform future investment decisions;

  • Support organisational learning regarding the performance of our properties;

  • Raise tenant awareness of the impact their behaviour can have on the performance of their home (education).

  • Prioritise a retrofit and maintenance schedule

Tether was successful in its RFP bid for the Smart Homes Pilot, where over 700 EnviroQ sensors were installed in Kāinga Ora homes in Palmerston North and the Hutt Valley.

When the multi-year-long pilot came to an end, the outcomes were diverse - as diverse as the people living in the homes. The key discovery was that even with all the right systems in place, a house could still fail to provide its residents with a warm, dry, and healthy environment.

The data on this surprising outcome revealed a deep social issue: fuel poverty. Some families did not have the financial means to run the systems that could support a healthy home.

Not only did the monitoring of homes in the Smart Homes Pilot inform retrofitting and future builds, it also resulted in energy grants being gifted to families to ensure health and wellbeing. A great example of the transformative power of data.

The Smart Homes Pilot identified that economic factors influenced customer behaviour which influences Kāinga Ora’s goal of providing warm, dry, healthy, sustainable homes.

After a successful proof of concept, Smart Homes II (renamed Kākano) was set in motion. The aim remained the same but included energy efficiency/carbon neutral performance, and the scope of work was increased to monitoring around 2200 homes throughout New Zealand. Its objectives included:

  • Understanding the current indoor air quality conditions across the Kāinga Ora housing stock, of all ages and typologies

  • Understanding energy use within Kāinga Ora homes, and therefore;

  • allowing the organisation to understand the operational carbon emissions of its stock

  • Inform broader multi-agency discussions around fuel poverty in New Zealand

  • Understanding which interventions have the biggest impact on improving housing outcomes for customers (including specifically for Maori and Pacifica), and therefore;

  • Enable cost-benefits to take place

  • Provide a mechanism for benefit realisation

  • Provide tangible evidence of progress to stakeholders

  • Enable strategic decision-making to take place for both the existing and new housing stock

Once again, Tether won the tender in 2020.

Tether is honored to continuously support the scientific examination of Kāianga Ora's retrofitted, current builds, and future housing projects to enhance the lives of Kiwis and ensure they reside in warm and healthy homes.


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