By any stretch of the imagination, the Net Zero Home project undertaken by New South Wales government-owned urban development agency Landcom and building firm Clarendon Homes NSW was ambitious.
It paid off, however. Earlier this month, the project earned Clarendon and Landcom the prestigious 2012 HIA GreenSmart Home of the Year Award, not to mention awards for GreenSmart Water Efficiency, GreenSmart Resource Efficiency and GreenSmart Display Home.
The ‘Net Zero Home’ is part of the three-home Eco Living Display Village, involving a typical project home which utilises the best available environmental design and appliances; a recycled home built from recycled materials; and the ‘Net Zero Home’ itself, which has set new standards in sustainability by enabling the home to be taken completely off the power grid through its ability to capture both water and create its own electricity supply.
Asked about the inspiration behind the village, Landcom general manager of corporate marketing Russell Sullivan said the idea was to demonstrate that it is possible to build sustainable houses through your typical project builder, and that there is no ‘holy grail’ in environmentally friendly residential development.
“In terms of dealing with the project builder, the village achieved that and Clarendon did an excellent job in terms of building three types of sustainable house,” he says.
Sullivan says the most rewarding aspect of the award from Landcom’s point of view revolves around garnering recognition for thinking outside the box in a practical manner.
“I think any type of award is rewarding from the point of view of recognition for your effort in trying to do something different and to do something which is market viable,” he says.
Not surprisingly, the home boasts plenty of sustainable features. A translucent garage door is not only smart from an environmental viewpoint, but also serves architectural and quality of living purposes by reducing the dominance of the garage door in terms of the street view of the façade of the home – especially once lit up at night, because it glows from inside. It also enables the garage to double as a living space should the owners require more room inside the home, with the translucent door allowing daylight to get inside.
The home also features a reverse brick veneer construction of external walls, with the bricks inside and the cladding on the exterior. This takes advantage of the thermal properties of bricks, warming the inside in winter while the well-shaded arrangement absorbs and transfers heat down into the ground in warmer months.
The Low-E double glazed windows feature a heat mirror coating, while plantation shutters allow for greater control of heat and light. The LED lamps used in this home save up to 80 per cent of the energy used by halogen lamps, yet they provide better colour-rendering qualities, thereby offering performance which is equal to or better than halogens.
Outside, a 24-panel Photovoltaic solar power system ensures complete self-sufficiency in terms of the building’s energy usage.
The rear of the building is home to a grey water recycling system. Neat and compact, the system takes the grey water from the showers, bath and laundry and applies a filtering system through which water flows into an adjacent tank and is subsequently used for gardening, toilet and laundry purposes. The manufacturer of this system claims the water is even drinkable, though not many are likely to be tempted to give it a try.
Many years ago, many ordinary homes around Australia started contributing back to the grid in terms of solar power.
Now, it seems, the standard for sustainability features of regular Australian homes has been moved to a whole new level.