Innovation leads the way

How the Canterbury rebuild is changing the way we look at roofing.

The Canterbury earthquakes changed everything for those people affected by them. Now, with the rebuild underway and all eyes turned to the future, other fundamental shifts are taking place.

Nowhere is this more evident, for obvious reasons, than in the construction industry, in both the residential and commercial sectors.

The earthquakes have prompted an industry-wide re-look at building methods and materials, with opportunities to innovate opening up at levels unseen for decades.

Companies such as Legacy Property, the developer behind the recently completed Stalla Apartments at 399 Manchester Street in Christchurch’s CBD fringe, are at the leading edge of this fresh thinking.

Once home to a red brick heritage wall which collapsed in the 2011 quake, the 26 apartments have been designed by Andre Hodgskin of Architex, to incorporate the latest design specifications, with an emphasis on quality and sustainability.

 Sustainability features are many, including:

  • Solar panels on the roof to power shared areas
  • Rainwater tanks for garden irrigation
  • Exterior and interior LED lighting
  • Communal vegetable gardens
  • Extensive landscape planting with a large number of native species
  • Bike parking and;
  • No garaging, and parking limited to one space per dwelling.


In addition, building practices have also been carefully considered, with the use of off-site manufacturing to help reduce construction site waste and sharp focus on appropriate insulation and building orientation to minimise energy consumption.

Roofing is another discipline where innovation is achieving considerable advances.

Metal roofing’s sustainability advantages are well known. But the recent trend towards ‘warm’ roofs or, as it’s known, insulation from the outside, has simply added to those positives.

A warm roof installation is usually made up of a rigid panel of extruded polystyrene or closed cell foam and can save up to 15% in energy usage compared to a traditional ‘cold’ roof.

As the country’s leading supplier of steel roofing materials, it’s not surprising that New Zealand Steel is at the centre of forward momentum around sustainability and energy savings.

The company has recently launched its new product, COLORSTEEL® BOUNCE®. This high performing solar reflectant, developed primarily for commercial or industrial buildings, offers a thermal performance of 77% and significant savings on existing air conditioning costs. 

New Zealand Steel’s Chris Kay predicts increased demand for greater function and performance from roofs, with a resulting increase in the use of solar photovoltaic products.

He sees this delivering solar energy and solar heated water to a far greater degree than ever before. He also anticipates changes in the way buildings are constructed due to the emphasis Housing New Zealand is placing on the provision of affordable housing throughout the country.

Of course, the Canterbury earthquakes have also awoken our general awareness of the imperative  of safety and, with that, demand for roofing materials that are of lighter weight.

A COLORSTEEL® roof is about 1/7 the weight of heavy concrete tiles. Yet COLORSTEEL® is also a robust material that is able to cope with almost anything Mother Nature chooses to throw at it.

That’s undoubtedly why so many architects, specifiers and developers are opting for COLORSTEEL® for their projects across both the domestic and commercial sectors. COLORSTEEL® enables innovation that is the new norm. 

In the aftermath of turmoil and tragedy then, some good has risen.

New materials, new ways of doing things and fresh thinking are driving revolutionary change for the better. New Zealand Steel is at the very forefront of that progress.

Technical Info

Test. Test. And test again.

“Our customers can be confident that before we hand it over to them, we’ve put their roof through more trials than they ever will.” Dr Troy Coyle, Manager of Innovation...

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