The Studor Maxi-Filtra active carbon filter has been installed as an integral component of the on-site waste treatment system for Tu Uru Taumatua, the new headquarters and meeting place for the Maori tribe, Tūhoe Iwi, in New Zealand. Designed to the stringent criteria of the international “Living Building Challenge”, an environmental rating and advocacy tool, the completed project is New Zealand’s most advanced ecological building, setting a strong precedent in terms of sustainability.
For many years, the Tūhoe tribe have been working toward the restoration and wider recognition of their history and culture (mana whenua) with a vision to strengthen and reaffirm the tribe’s communities and re-develop their infrastructure. Tūhoe identified a requirement for a new meeting place that supported the tribe’s large community and their regular gatherings and festivals. The tribe were adamant that this new development should fully align with their ancestral connection to the land (mana tanagata).
Commissioned by the Tūhoe, the new headquarters will act as the tribe’s governance centre in Taneatua, The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. It has been built to comply with the International Living Building Institute’s “Living Building Challenge”, the most stringent and demanding of the green building guidelines available to date. The Challenge stipulates net-zero energy and water, as well as zero waste and toxicity from completed projects.
As a result, instead of ‘minimal harm’ these buildings actively address their impact on energy and land use, and restoratively give back to society and the environment. The building must provide evidence of its compliance with the Challenge’s requirements before it can apply for Living Building Certification; the next step in the project’s completion.
Constructed on a 2200m² site, Te Uru has two major functional elements, connected by an entrance lobby housing a reception area and small café. The tribal chamber to the north accommodates a large assembly room, opening out to an amphitheatre with a stage, library, and the Tūhoe Iwi archive, as well as a commercial kitchen and utilities. To the south, the reception area allows access to meeting rooms and open plan offices over two levels.
Innovations within the project’s design were driven by the strict constraints of the Challenge. The project team researched more than 760 building materials to ensure none contained any prohibited ‘Red List’ chemicals, whilst geographical sourcing minimised the whole building and construction carbon footprint. The building structure and finishes are primarily timber, 95% of which were sourced from local forests with FSC certification.
The building incorporates the largest solar electric array in New Zealand, with 390 photovoltaic panels installed across the project enabling the complex to generate all its own energy needs. Storm water retention mechanisms and rain water collection manage water flows on site and, to complete a regenerative water-loop system, a purpose-designed botanical waste-water system has been installed incorporating the Studor Maxi-Filtra within the septic tank.
A practical two-way vent for external drainage systems, the Studor Maxi-Filtra is a sturdy filter designed specifically for outdoor applications to ensure no escape of bad odours. The robust design means the Maxi-Filtra can be used vertically or horizontally and can be installed in hard-to-reach places. The active carbon filter operates as a two-way vent, filtering air in both directions and is packaged in a resilient exterior for longevity, with a replaceable filter.
Primarily used on the ventilation pipe of septic tanks, the Maxi-Filtra may be installed when the odour from existing vents is a problem, or, as in the case of Tu Uru Taumatua, when vents are to be included in the drainage system of a new build.
The Maxi-Filtra fulfilled the two key criteria of “The Living Building Challenge”: 1) it does not contain any prohibited chemicals and materials that appear on the Red List, and 2) it is manufactured within 11,000 kilometres of the installation site.
The Studor Maxi-Filtra has been thoroughly researched and proven to comply with the stringent performance criteria of “The Living Building Challenge”, a building certification programme, advocacy tool and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment. As a result, it will feature on the preferred list of products for all future “Living Building Challenge” projects.