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Tuesday, 11 October 2016
New Zealand’s First ‘Living Building’ Uses Abodo’s FSC responsible timber

Te Uru Taumatua, Tūhoe tribe’s new administrative and cultural hub (© Abodo Wood Limited)© Abodo Wood Limited

Taneatua, New Zealand


A certified ‘living building’ is one that biologically enhances its environment and, at the time of the Tūhoe project in 2013, none existed in New Zealand.

Te Wharehou o Tūhoe is a $15 million headquarters for Ngai Tūhoe (a Maori “iwi” or tribe), at Taneatua, near Whakatane in New Zealand. As a Living Building, it needed to meet the stringent measures of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) – a green building code with wider ecological and social aims.

The building was designed to have no environmental impact, be integrated into its surrounding landscape and to give back to the world around it. Each step of the build followed rigorous standards from where the materials are sourced to how they are transported and used including their embodied carbon.

Tūhoe had planned to use its own timber supplies for around 95% of the building – including newly harvested trees for construction and gifted fallen and dead trees from the Urewera’s forest for landscaping, flooring and seating. However due to the scale of the project, they needed to find an additional timber supplier, where the timber was not only sustainably harvested, but was sourced, treated and produced in line with Living Building Challenge standards.

The project’s exacting material requirements included:

  • All wood must be locally sourced and from Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC®) forests (strictest certification for the responsible management of forests)
  • Preservatives and coatings used should be low toxicity and low VOC (or "chemicals" as commonly named)
  • Cladding and exterior materials should be extremely durable and low maintenance

So it was a natural choice that Ngai Tūhoe utilised Abodo’s greenest and highest performance products.

The exterior of the building is clad in a custom profiled Abodo cladding designed by project’s architects, Jasmax. A heavy duty Sand+ Decking features on the exterior terrace, pre-finished in Abodo’s Protector – a natural, plant based exterior oil.

Going above and beyond in the true spirit of innovation and collaboration, Abodo worked closely with Tūhoe and Jasmax to ensure the project met LBC standards. This involved supplying products that were outside of Abodo’s standard product range, such as doors and internal joinery.

Importantly for Ngai Tūhoe, where the meaning behind the wood also played its part, the wood fibre used for the project is locally sourced by Abodo from FSC certified forests in the Kaingaroa region, most of which are on or close to Ngai Tūhoe land.

“Ngai Tūhoe and Jasmax took an inspirational step into the future of construction. We were proud to be selected as a partner for the journey and to have the opportunity to provide advice during the planning phase” comments Daniel Gudsell, Abodo’s Marketing Director.

At the time of completion, Te Wharehou o Tūhoe was the most advanced sustainable building in New Zealand.

Watch the 2 min 41 sec VIDEO: New Zealand’s First Living Building and learn more about Abodo Wood Limited here


© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000201