After 20 years renovating other people’s houses and gardens demonstrating sustainable design ideas, Josh Byrne (environmental scientist & well-known ABC TV Gardening Australia presenter) undertook the design and construction of his own 10 star energy efficient family home in the Fremantle suburb of Hilton.
Tired of hearing that sustainable construction has to cost more, Josh and his colleagues set out to prove that resource efficient homes could be built at a comparable cost and timeframe to regular houses.
The homes are thermally comfortable year round, without the need for air conditioning or additional heating. They generate more electricity than they use, and they harvest and recycle water. In addition to private garden areas, a common productive garden supplies both houses with fresh food.
What sets this project apart from many others is that the building designs have achieved a 10 Star NatHERS energy efficiency rating*, while intentionally using conventional building materials and construction methods so they can easily be replicated by industry and the wider community.
The project also demonstrates a more sensitive approach to residential subdivision that has considered maximising effective garden area around the homes to allow for natural shading, children’s play spaces and local food production – important health and lifestyle benefits that are rapidly disappearing from our suburbs.
Construction commenced in November 2012 and was completed in June 2013. Now occupied as Josh’s Family home, the house also functions as Living Laboratory where performance data is collected, new technology is tested and learnings are shared.
* Refers to the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) which is based on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest rating score. 6 stars is the minimum energy efficiency standard required under the Building Code of Australia.