Photography: Courtesy the architects
Exuding a serene exterior with a wooden-fronted patio surrounded by greenery, this 10-star energy rated ‘green’ house in Australia emits energy positive vibes, where it generates more energy than it uses - making it an award magnet.
Approaching sustainability from a holistic angle, the architectural firm Melbourne Design Studio designed PassivHaus based on economic, eco-friendly and social parameters. For instance, use of ceiling fans reduce the need for air-conditioning and thereby scale down energy costs, while triple-glazed windows and high performance insulation keeps the home warm and the environment clean.
Being a 10-star energy rated home, principal architect Marc Bernstein says, “The house is based on passive solar design principles with some clever tricks mixed in.” Eave overhangs minimise solar heat gains in summer (steep sun angle) and maximise them in winter (less steep sun angle).
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In continuity with this theme, a high performance building envelope and large north-facing windows harness heat from the sun in winter and exclude it in summer. Thermal mass and insulation, together with adjustable sun shading and cross ventilation help maintain a comfortable interior, eschewing the need for artificial heating and cooling. A rain-garden on the roof filters storm water runoff. Active ESD systems like Solar Hot Water, Geo-Thermal and Photovoltaics take the house from energy neutral to energy positive.
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Also by designing this home (145 sq m) one-third smaller than an average Australian home, the firm has ensured a clever layout (living spaces face north while services and amenities along the south side act as a thermal buffer), where less is more. This new vocabulary translates into a compact, space-efficient design at a cost-competitive rate.
We just love the idea of not paying electricity bills, don’t you?
P.S.: It’s no surprise that the MDS PassivHaus is collecting top awards: a first prize in the 2012 “Melbourne Design Awards” (Category Architecture - Best Residential Proposed); and in the Building Designers Association of Victoria's 2012 10 Star Challenge for single dwellings.