Sustainable House Day 2017

A record number of homes opened their doors for Sustainable House Day 2017

Sustainable House Day is a unique, free national event that provides an opportunity for people to visit homes built, remodelled or continually improved with sustainability in mind. A record 68 homes across Victoria and 206 homes across Australia opened their doors and welcomed over 25,000 visitors for Sustainable House Day 2017. Attendees used the opportunity to speak to homeowners, designers and builders and get inspiration and information first-hand about how to make their own homes more environmental, more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run.

BDAV Member, Luke Middleton of EME design, had three projects open this year, including Armadale Passivhaus which is a wonderful example of how you can transform an old weatherboard house into a modern, comfortable and super-energy efficient home using Passivhaus principles.

The house has been extensively renovated with very high levels of insulation, triple glazing, windows oriented to maximise northern light and is wrapped in an airtight membrane, minimising use of materials with high embodied energy and instead using predominantly wood and rammed earth. Fresh air is provided by a mechanical ventilation system to constantly provide warm fresh air.

Luke also opened up his own home, MM House, where visitors found inspiration in a striking design with a focus on resilience and flexibility, where architectural intent has been equally matched with a commitment to creating an efficient home constructed of low embodied energy materials. Despite the site constraints the home is flooded with winter sun, and achieves an 8 star energy rating where the building envelop is within the realms of Passive House Standards including air tightness.

MM House was designed to potentially become autonomous – rainwater, grey water, solar, food production have been factored in to design of the home and landscape.

Regional Victorians also had plenty of homes to tour this year:

Mungo Park, a Newlyn new build designed by BDAV Member Matthew Turner of Enduring Domain Building Design in Ballarat, draws on inspiration from surrounding examples of vernacular farmhouses and shedding which have endured the ravages of time and use. The new building occupies the site of a former house lost to fire. Many elements of the previous century of occupation remain on the site and the layers of history will now be preserved to create the heritage of tomorrow.

The main living wing is facing due north and features two large triple-glazed timber windows. The concrete slab is paved with limestone and there is an internal loadbearing stone wall for additional thermal mass and winter sun deeply penetrates the floor for passive winter heating, while calculated eaves and shading battens obstruct the summer sun.

The west façade features Le Corbusier inspired ‘brise soleil’ which is an external shade box to prevent the entry of low angle afternoon sun. The timber stud frame is wrapped and sealed with Enviroseal breathable membrane to stop air infiltration and also allow internal condensation to be released. There is a grid-connected photovoltaic system, on-site waste treatment system, and rainwater collection. Old brick pavers and a concrete slab from the site have been reused into the new design and salvaged timber has been used extensively for wall linings and deck structures.

Attendees at Live at the Cape in Cape Paterson enjoyed a sustainability street party and were able to tour five sustainable houses including Victoria’s first 10-star home, aptly named The 10 Star Home, built by The Sociable Weaver and designed in collaboration with Clare Cousins Architects and with help from BDAV Past President Tim Adams of F2 Design.

The home uses passive solar design and cross-flow ventilation to heat and cool the home – achieved through thermal mass concrete floors, under slab insulation, FSC hardwood double-glazed windows, and innovative new technology Bio-Phase Change Material (BioPCM) insulation in walls and ceilings. Combined with 5kW photovoltaic solar on the roof and highly efficient LED lighting throughout, this home is estimated to cost only $3 per year to run.

Through Life Cycle Analysis by eTool, modelling shows that over the lifetime of the home, the 10 Star Home will not only negate its carbon footprint but will positively exceed it.

Sustainable House Day is organised by our friends at the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), a not-for-profit organisation that exists to enable, represent and inspire people to live sustainably in their homes and communities. Although Sustainable House Day 2017 has come and gone, you can still peruse the houses that were on display, view their sustainable specifications, and see sustainable events being held across Australia at www.sustainablehouseday.com.

Armadale Passive House
Armadale Passive House - Images courtesy of Alternative Technology Association