Around Australia, environmentally conscious homeowners and designers are breaking new ground with sustainable initiatives. The result? Homes that are supremely comfortable to live in and friendly to the Earth. On Sunday, September 11, the not-for-profit Alternative Technology Association has arranged for the owners of 150 houses across the country to open their doors and welcome like-minded guests inside to ask questions and take a look around. From hemp walls to new zero energy use, visitors will be treated to a taste of what’s possible when it comes to designing a more sustainable home.
To find the addresses of houses near you to see on the day, register at Sustainable House Day. In the meantime, let’s visit 9 homes around Australia that have been built or renovated with sustainability in mind.Fido ProjectsProject 1: Bellairs Avenue (renovation)
Location: Seddon, Victoria
Size: 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Energy rating: 5
Sustainable features: Recycled building materials, solar PV grid connect, solar hot water, double glazing, water tanks, waterwise garden, efficient lights.Fido ProjectsFido ProjectsA shared passion for sustainable living and building practices saw the owners of this home, which was once an Edwardian shopfront, renovating the property completely to bring it in line with their preferred lifestyle. The renovation included adding a second-storey extension to give them more space, as well as a range of eco-friendly upgrades. The homeowners included recycled and natural materials wherever possible – from recycled brick to radially sawn timber cladding – as well as improved orientation.Alternative Technology AssociationProject 2: White Pebble House (new build)
Location: Hampton, Victoria
Designer/builder: Blue Chip Builders
Size: 370 square metres; 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
Energy rating: 7.3
Sustainable features: Passive solar, lightweight construction materials, next-generation insulation products, air-tight envelope, heat-recovery ventilation, solar PV grid connect, solar hot water, water tank, waterwise gardenAlternative Technology AssociationAlternative Technology AssociationThe White Pebble House is a contemporary structure, but one that makes the most of sustainable building practices to create a home that is truly in tune with its environment. Passive solar principles mean that artificial heating and cooling of the interiors are unnecessary, aided by cutting-edge insulation, an exceedingly efficient airtight envelope and heat-recovery ventilation.
This home is set in a naturalistic Australian native garden setting with a billabong.NEAThouseProject 3: NEAThouse Dodges Ferry (new build)
Location: Dodges Ferry, Tasmania
Size: 104 square metres; 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
Building designer:NEAThouse Tasmania
Energy rating: 8.1
Sustainable features: Passive solar, recycled building materials, timber from sustainable sources, low-VOC finishes, low-e windows with thermal break, waterwise garden, water tanks.NEAThouseNEAThouseThis home is designed to be beautiful to look at and live in, as well as economical to heat and cool. NEAThouse prioritises the use of materials that are free from harmful chemicals or effects, and these have been used throughout the home for a healthier living environment. Building materials were also brought in from renewable, sustainable sources, and local suppliers were used as much as possible.
The priority for low toxicity goes as far as the finishes used in the home, including the paints, sealants and varnishes.Alternative Technology AssociationProject 4: O’Connor Dual Occupancy (new build)
Location: O’Connor, ACT
Builder: Parry Pichelmann
Size: 2 houses: 160 and 110 square metres; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms in each
Energy rating: 7.5
Sustainable features: Solar passive, green board construction, reclaimed building materials, solar PV grid connect, solar hot water, shared water tank and vegetable garden.Alternative Technology AssociationOn a single block, two houses have been built side-by-side for multi-generational living; one house is home to a couple in their 70s, the other to their son and his family. Both houses have been built using sustainable practices including orientation, insulation, thermal mass and ventilation, and materials such as 100 millimetre Greenboard insulated cladding, double-glazed windows and uPVC window frames.
Materials from the house that were on the block before the knock-down rebuild were reclaimed and used throughout both new homes, such as hardwood flooring and framing timbers, benchtops and bricks.Alternative Technology AssociationAs well as sharing a block, the two homes also share access to a workshop, a large garden and a 55,000 litre underground water tank.
See more multi-generational homesAlternative Technology AssociationProject 5: TS4 Living Lochiel Park House #3 (new build)
Location: Campbelltown, SA
Size: 242 square metres; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Architect: TS4 Living
Builder: Weber Building Services
Energy rating: 7.6
Sustainable features: Solar passive, solar PV grid connect, solar hot water, highly insulated walls, lightweight constructions, water tanks, recycled building materials.Alternative Technology AssociationHaving a property with standout style on this small suburban site was just as important to the owners as its sustainability – and with an energy rating of 7.6 surrounding clean, sleek finishes, the TS4 Living team showed they could meet both sides of the brief without compromise.Alternative Technology AssociationDouble-height ceilings provide plenty of open space inside the home, while double-glazed uPVC windows fill that space with light and help to maintain a comfortable living temperature. This is assisted by a multi-head split system air conditioner, and a solar-powered heat pump.Alternative Technology AssociationProject 6: Phil and Donna’s Place
Location: Mundaring, WA
Size: 204 square metres; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Architect: Abel Design
Builder:Custom Lifestyle Homes
Energy rating: 8.1
Sustainable features: Passive solar, recycled brick and concrete pavers, reused windows, underground and above-ground water storage, low-VOC floor sealer, walls highly insulated, chickens.Alternative Technology AssociationThis homeowners’ priorities were efficient/passive heating and cooling, water catchment (the home is 100 per cent rainwater dependent), and connection with the outdoors. The design makes use of the block’s north-facing aspect, maximising winter sunlight and summer cross-ventilation.
The polished concrete floor and full-height brick fireplace provide ample thermal mass to regulate temperatures throughout the year. The timber-framed walls are fully insulated and then lined externally with fibre cement sheeting, followed by additional insulation and finishing cladding.Connected DesignProject 7: Marrickville Hempcrete House (renovation)
Location: Marrickville, NSW
Size: 130 square metres; 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Builder:Sowden Building Solutions
Sustainable features: Constructed using hempcrete and recycled timber and bricks, passive solar, VOC-free paint, joinery and floor finish, edible garden, drip irrigation.
Photo by Lena BarridgeConnected DesignThis project involved an 35 square metre addition to the first floor of an existing semi-detached house, without adding anything to the home’s existing ground-floor footprint. It also shows how architectural inclusions designed to dampen aircraft noise need not compromise on a home’s thermal performance or visual style.
Photo by Lena BarridgeConnected DesignBasic passive design principles were incorporated into the renovation and the homeowners weren’t afraid to be bold with new materials, including hempcrete, a natural, textural material used for both construction and insulation.
Photo by Lena BarridgeWhitehouse ConceptsProject 8: Sustainable Country Style Home (new build)
Location: Wilton, NSW
Size: 193 square metres; 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Sustainable features: Net zero energy, generating seven times as much electricity than is used, air-tight envelope, thermally efficient, highly insulated. Natural heating and cooling system, cross-flow ventilation, solar hot water, bamboo flooring.
Whitehouse ConceptsWith generous spaces, ample light, the use of materials such as weatherboards, Colorbond and natural timber, and bush-themed landscaping, this home gives the impression of being in the middle of the country when its actually part of an estate. Large windows and an internal courtyard allow even the southern side of the home to be flooded with northern light, helping to maintain comfortable temperatures and a pleasant atmosphere inside, throughout the year.Whitehouse ConceptsThanks to its air-tight design, clever insulation, efficient appliances and a natural heating and cooling system, this home’s 5kW solar-powered system actually allows it to generate seven times the amount of energy that it actually uses, meaning that it is classed as net energy positive. The garden is also landscaped for low-water use as an added bonus.
See more waterwise gardensGeoff Gibson HomesProject 9: Satori (new build)
Location: Toowoomba, Queensland
Size: 283 square metres; 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Designer/builder: Geoff Gibson Homes
Energy rating: 9
Sustainable features: GreenSmart accredited, passive solar, north-facing, high light louvres, materials sourced from local suppliers where possible, timber from sustainable source, solar hot water, above-ground water tank.Geoff Gibson HomesSave PhotoWith an energy rating of 9, this GreenSmart accredited home is one of the highest on the sustainability scale. This is largely thanks to the site’s west-facing orientation, which allows the house maximum exposure to northern sun in winter. Additionally, high louvre windows allow for cross breezes in summer and the ventilation of excess heat. Local, sustainable materials were also used throughout construction.