Energy-Efficient Homes: Affordable for Everyone
Energy-Efficient Homes: Affordable for Everyone

Energy-Efficient Homes: Affordable for Everyone

We have been awarded the Housing Industry Associations highest accolade for the 2015 Greensmart Energy Efficiency Home of the year for Carwoola House- and we are so proud!

Two years ago we had a lovely couple, Ann and Alison, request an energy-efficient home for their property in the country. “We want to live as much as possible of the land and with minimal energy use. We want a home that is beautiful, low maintenance and stands the test of time”.

Ruby, our practice manager, and I met with Ann and Alison one sunny afternoon in Spring and talked about the site, their needs and the principles of energy-efficient design.

Solar Passive

We started with the principles of solar passive design:

  • Orientation to let Winter sun in to living spaces and exclude sun in Summer.
  • Well insulated to hold Winter heat and Summer coolth.
  • Eaves that assist with sun access management.
  • Southern verandahs to cater for the interface between the land and the home.
  • Thermal mass in the walls and floor to keep the temperature of the home interior more stable.
  • Cross flow ventilation in the beautiful Spring and Autumn months.

Passiv Haus

Where Solar Passive deals with orientation, sun access, insulation and thermal mass, “Passiv Haus” deals with the technology of stabilising temperature.

  • Fully sealed windows, doors and a complete building envelope with a membrane to prohibit air movement except through a filtered, heat exchange ventilation system in the extremes of Summer and Winter.
  • Triple glazed, thermally broken windows and doors that seal shut like a fridge door.
  • A heat transfer system that retains coolth inside the house in Summer and heat inside the house in Winter and allows an exchange of filtered air that excludes dust and fog and allows the house and inhabitants to breathe.
  • A thermal break beam that runs the perimeter of the house at the junction between the slab and the cavity brick wall insulation.
  • A membrane that allows moisture to move from inside to outside, thereby preventing condensation, but ensuring that the air is kept stable inside the home.

Energy Efficiency

The effect of combining Solar Passive principles and Passiv Haus technologies has enabled the energy efficient rating to go off the chart.

The current energy efficiency software used in Australia does not fully recognise the benefits of Passiv Haus technology so we could be achieving an even higher energy efficiency rating without knowing.

Added to this is a return to grid solar photovoltaic electricity system and large water tanks for fire management and use in the home. A waterharvesting system is due to be implemented that will capture the rainwater and greywater to feed underground channels where water is stored amongst the roots for trees and plants. This extends the growing capacity due to the increased moisture content in the soil all year round. 

This is a wonderfully sustainable home.

A big thanks to Wayne Torres and his fantastic team of builders, tradespeople and artisans for creating a magnificent level of quality and for persevering with the fully wrapped membrane within the house structure that required every single joint and penetration to be sealed. Great job.

Thank you to Gino Monteleone for crafting a beautiful Redgum kitchen and plywood and bamboo joinery throughout the home. Gino also made the front door to suit the German window system technology, required for the Passiv Haus standards. The cabinetry work is exceptional.

Finally a big thank you to Ann and Alison for dreaming the dream and sharing a wonderful journey!


Paul Barnett

For more photos and information on Carwoola House, click here.