I started my business over 10 years ago with the best of intentions to build sustainable homes. By definition I didn’t know exactly what that looked like, but deep down I wanted to contribute my knowledge to quality residential homes. I’ve used the fundamentals of Passive Solar Design, searched for the most sustainable materials and have always sought efficiency in our design solutions.
However I’ve never pushed or challenged my clients to sustainable design. I’ve always adapted to their brief, their needs, and essentially their values. Unfortunately most Australians value scale over quality. This is why we have on average the biggest houses in the world. (“But we’ve got the room” - don’t give me that crap). I could dive deep into this topic but we have to understand the fundamental reason we need to change…. Yep it is our climate. (Naysayers need not read further).
We can tackle this in two major ways, reduce the materials and resources that we use; and minimise our energy consumption to run our homes. The building industry can have a massive influence on stabilising the rapid increase of C02 in our atmosphere. I don’t have kids, but I am so concerned about the future and what is left for generations to come. In recent years I’ve noticed that the most enjoyable projects are with clients that I share values. This has lead me to explore what my values actually are.
I’ve decided to make a stance. Draw a line in the sand. Announce my values and commit my efforts towards like minded clients and builders. Our capitalist values need to shift. I think there is no better place to start than with your own home. I truly believe that the shelter that you provide for your family should be safe, comfortable healthy and have minimal impact on the environment. This definition should be priority number one on your brief. Everything else will fall into place if this is your primary goal.
My first step is Passive House certification. If you don’t know about Passive House then check out this 90 second video, or a detailed explanation of the principles here. In essence striving to create a building that is healthy and comfortable. The byproduct is a building that operates on very little heating and cooling demand. This intense two week training course was a massive challenge. To down tools and focus intently on the physics and the data was personal test was actually a bit nervous about going in.
I’d like to share with you what I learnt, test my values and ultimately give you some understanding of what the new ‘quality home’ could look like in your backyard.