27 August 2015 Updated Story.
I have known Rex Wheeler since we studied at A.N.U. way back in 1982 (yes, showing our ages now!). Like myself, Rex has a strong interest in Sustainable Housing. His company Canberra Green Builder has been established in the A.C.T. to build homes for Canberra residents looking for homes that offer a sustainable model, but with all the trappings new home buyer look for in 2013. Rex has sent me this outline of what goes into the design and construction of an energy efficient home:
Sustainability and New Home Construction
First, thank you James for allowing me to talk about one of the subjects most dear to my heart – Building and Sustainable Housing. As a new home builder in Canberra, my company has a primary objective of building quality homes that are not only a beautiful residence for its occupants, but a home that is energy efficient and meet many of the criterion for ‘sustainability’.
Sustainability and New Housing Construction
The term ‘sustainability’ really means (when related to housing) creating a home that is in harmony with its environment and has elements within its design and construction that take less from the environment than traditional housing affords. Sustainability, as the name suggests, also means that the home will continue to operate in this manner (not taking from the environment) for many years to come. The key elements we have adopted in our home construcion include:
- Energy Efficiency – Implementing the latest technologies to minimise reliance on grid supplied power
- High level Insulation Usage
- Renewable Energy Generation In House.
In 2012 Canberra experienced mean minimum winter temperatures of 4 degrees celcius and for the same year Canberra’s mean summer temperatures were 32 degrees celcius. This huge range of temperature really dictates that home thermal performance is a critical design issue. We have looked at the newest insulation technologies emerging and now have a range of over 25 different products we can offer for insulation in our homes. We target these areas for insulation:
- Sub floor
- Cavity Wall
- insulating materials
- wood finishing lacquers
- synthetic floor coverings
- blinds and curtains
- It is surprising that the ‘chemical cocktail’ of materials present in our homes can be potentially harmful to out health.
Solar Energy Capture Implementation
Our homes are designed to be highly energy efficient. To further reduce the carbon footprint we have found that the use of high efficiency photo voltaic panel systems, both integrated and discrete, can bring the home to close to being energy self sufficient. This is achieved by carefully discussing with new home clients their lifestyle, family size, typical energy usage patterns and their required appliances they would like for their new home. We then do a complex energy audit based on these inputs and from this can determine the optimum solar system size required to achieve minimum electricity import from the grid, whilst also keeping the solar system size to the minimum – allowing of course for growing families and evolving home appliance usage.
These are just some of the techniques and approaches we take in building new homes in Canberra. In my next article i will cover a raft of other factors from vegetation on the land to rainwater capture and water recycling that add up to creating a truly sustainable home that A.C.T. residents will be proud to own and enjoy living in.