Birregurra Sustainable Home

Birregurra Sustainable Home exhibits a strong focus on sustainability

Sunpower Design Pty Ltd won three major awards for their Birregurra Sustainable Home project in the BDAV 2009 Building Design Awards:

  • Residential Design – New Houses $300K-$500K Construction Cost
  • Best Energy Efficient Design – Residential
  • Best Environmentally Sustainable Design – Residential

The clients asked Sunpower Design to design an exciting sustainable energy efficient home that was self-sufficient. The home needed to utilise the latest technology, while maintaining a sophisticated aesthetic.

The result is an 8-star rated, restrained and elegant house which exhibits a strong focus on sustainability. It features solar power and hot water, rainwater harvesting, grey-water recycling, low energy lighting and low toxicity finishes.

The organic forms and sweeping rooflines of the house are in harmony with the sloping site and surrounding landscape, and the use of corrugated steel and exposed timber externally make reference to the rural vernacular.

Natural colours and ‘honest’ materials are used throughout: floors are polished concrete and natural timber and plywoods with stainless steel accents are featured.

The house is contemporary and elegant, with a feeling of warmth and tranquility.

In terms of its energy efficient and environmentally sustainable features:

  • The house is north facing to maximise solar efficiency;
  • It has a concrete slab to create thermal mass;
  • It has double-glazed windows and doors, and effective seals on all windows and doors.
  • High quality Air-cell insulation supported by standard bats in walls with Tyvek wrap and R4.0 polyester batts in ceiling;
  • Adjustable external shade blinds and sails for all glass surfaces facing west and north;
  • The house was rated at 43 points on energy efficiency rating scale (5 star rating is 19 points);
  • Effective cross-flow ventilation through thoughtful window placement and supported by ceiling fans in summer;
  • The compact floor plan means maximum space utilisation and aids greatly in enhancing the energy performance of the building.

The dwelling is 85% self-sufficient over a 12-month period for power, water, heating and cooling, and was designed to flow with the contours of the land, minimising site cut. The thermal performance of the building is exceptional.

The dwelling incorporates an extensive use of recycled and reclaimed materials including the spotted gum stairs. The home also features a Biolytix waste water treatment system which handles all the black and grey water, and gives subsurface irrigation lines for garden watering. The system secretes its own ecosystem of microbes and composting worms

The external façade includes clever designed integrated shading blinds for sun protection in summer months.

The dwelling is a good example of sustainable building form, demonstrating you can design a functional, practical home which takes into account the landscape context and provides cost-effective resolutions.

This home performs on the leading edge of energy, rating top score of 43 point on First Rate House Energy Rating which exceeds the maximum rating tools available, giving equivalent to an 8 Star on a First Rate 5 design tool. The home requires minimal heating and no additional cooling. Temperature variation is between 18 and 28 degrees regardless of external temperatures.


Designer:  Sunpower Design Pty Ltd
Photographer:  Craig Wall (Home Beautiful)

External façade of the ensuite has cleverly designed integrated shading blinds for sun protection in summer months
External façade of the ensuite has cleverly designed integrated shading blinds for sun protection in summer months - Images: Craig Wall