Nigel Isaacs

Dr Nigel Isaacs profile picture

Senior Lecturer Wellington School of Architecture


Teaching in 2020


BE (Elect), MBSc, Dip.Bus.Admin, MNZIOB, MISES, Foundation Member NZ Energy Management Association, Member Construction History Society, PhD Victoria University of Wellington.

Research interests

Nigel Isaacs' research is focused on understanding the how’s, why’s, where’s and when’s of energy and water use in non-residential buildings and exploring and documenting the history of building technologies in New Zealand. This research has a focus in these areas:

  • energy in buildings
  • renewable energy
  • thermal insulation
  • building energy code
  • building evaluation
  • history of building technology
  • health in buildings.

Current research projects

Nigel Isaacs' current research explores the history of the technology of New Zealand buildings. Along with a general series of over 40 articles published in BRANZ’s BUILD magazine, Nigel has also published papers on the history of nails, ice, hollow concrete blocks and building legislation. This research has also formed the base for public lectures and radio series.

Nigel was a science leader for the Building Energy End-use Study (BEES) which explored energy and water use in non-domestic buildings. BEES was a 6 year study (completed in 2013) supported by Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST), the Department of Building and Housing, Building Research and EECA.

Prior to BEES, Nigel was the science leader for the Household Energy End-use Project (HEEP) which monitored all fuels (electricity, natural gas, LPG, wood, coal, oil, etc.) and energy services (room temperatures, hot water, appliances, etc.) in 400 randomly selected houses throughout New Zealand – large and small cities, urban and rural, North and South Islands from Kaikohe to Invercargill.

The BEES and HEEP reports are available from the BRANZ website

Nigel was a guest editor, along with Professor Philip Steadman of University College London, for a special issue of the journal Building Research and Information published in January 2014 in honour of their late colleague, Harry Bruhns.

Nigel has been involved in the design, development and implementation of NZBC Clause H1 Energy Efficiency, and the equivalent clause in the Building Code of Australia.

Selected publications

Book chapters

Bint, L, Vale, R. & Isaacs, N. 2014 Water Efficiency in Office Buildings in K. Adeyeye (ed.) Water Efficiency in Buildings: Theory and Practice (pp. 241-251) Chichester, U.K.: Wiley Blackwell.

Journal contribution—research article

Isaacs, Nigel 2015 Hollow Concrete Blocks in New Zealand 1904-1910. Journal of Construction History. Vol. 30 No. 1. Pp 91-106

Isaacs, Nigel & Bedlivá, Hana. Hempcrete—an environmentally friendly material?. Advanced Materials Research Vol. 1041 (2014) pp 83-86 doi:10.4028/ r

Isaacs, N P., & Hills, A. 2014. Understanding the New Zealand Non-Domestic Building Stock. Building Research & Information, 42 (1). (pp 95–108)

Isaacs, N P., & Steadman, P. 2014. Understanding Energy and the Non-Domestic Building Stock: In Memory of Harry Bruhns. Building Research & Information, 42 (1). (pp 1–3)

Smith, N., Isaacs, N.P. Burgess J. & Cox-Smith, I. 2012. Thermal performance of secondary glazing as a retrofit alternative for single-glazed windows.Energy and Buildings, (54) (pp 47-51)

Isaacs N.P. 2011. Sydney’s First Ice. Sydney Journal, 3 (2) (pp 26-35)

Isaacs, N., Saville-Smith, K., Camilleri, M. and Burrough, L. Energy in New Zealand houses: comfort, physics and consumption.Building Research & Information, 38 (5). (pp 470–480).

Isaacs, N P. (2009). Nails in New Zealand 1770 to 1910. Construction history – journal of the construction history society, 24. (pp. 83-101).

Journal and other contributions

Isaacs, N P. Building legislation 1840-1870. New Zealand Law Journal. June 2012. pp 179-184

Isaacs N.P. 2009 Today in History - 17 December 1889 New Zealand’s own Eiffel Tower opens History Group, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 2009

Conference paper in published proceedings

Isaacs, Nigel (2015) Carpentry in New Zealand – a text book for use by apprentices. In Proc. "everything tastes better with cream": Proc. New Zealand Architecture in the 1950s a one day symposium. 4 December 2015 pp 34-42 (

Isaacs, Nigel, Bowler, Jim, Duff, Ethan & Heath, Christian. 2015 Finding Faults in Residential Buildings. Proc. 1st International Symposium on Building Pathology (ISBP2015). 24 - 27 March 2015, Porto, Portugal.

Isaacs, N., Jowett, J., Saville-Smith, K. & Hills, A. Understanding Energy and Water Use in New Zealand Non-Residential Buildings – an Ad Hoc Survey. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference of Establishment Surveys, June 18-21, 2012, Montréal, Canada: American Statistical Association.

Isaacs N.P. & Cotterell W. "Nails shipped to any part of the colony" - nails and screws in early New Zealand furniture. New Zealand Furniture History Symposium. 2010. Invercargill (8-10 October)

Camilleri M.T. & Isaacs N. The Building Energy End-use Study (BEES): Study design and early findings. Proc CIB 2010 World Congress, 10 -13 May, Salford Quays, United Kingdom (Paper 656). Salford : University of Salford, 2010.


Lynda Amitrano [Ed], Nigel Isaacs, Kay Saville-Smith, Michael Donn, Michael Camilleri, Andrew Pollard, Michael Babylon, Rob Bishop, Johannes Roberti, Lisa Burrough, Peony Au, Lee Bint, John Jowett, Alex Hills and Shaan Cory. 2014 BEES Part 1: Final Report Building Energy End-Use Study BRANZ Study Report SR 297/1, Judgeford

Full list of publications


Teaching in 2020