SPOTLIGHT ON HEBEL
When it’s complete, My Ideal House will stand proudly on Meale Avenue in Sydney’s Gledswood Hills, presenting a fresh and friendly face to the world. Built into its crisp white facade will be two striking windowboxes filled with foliage and flowers. And the material that makes such a design feature possible is Hebel, a building product composed of autoclaved aerated concrete. But where traditional concrete is a weighty material, Hebel panels are comparatively light and strong, due to the aeration process and their steel reinforcement.
One of Hebel’s most appealing attributes is the flexibility it affords designers. This is something Madeleine Blanchfield, Sydney architect and winner of the My Ideal House design competition run by H&G and Mirvac, has embraced with her inclusion of the windowboxes. Madeleine has also seized the opportunity to include a routing detail on the Hebel panels, bringing definition to the exterior of My Ideal House.
“With Hebel, it’s simple to add this kind of textural detail and to create sightlines and points of interest in the exterior, which are an important aspect of Madeleine’s design,” says Roderick Petre, NSW operations manager for Mirvac. “There’s also something about Hebel that offers a nod to the Modernist homes that have, in part, inspired Madeleine’s design.”
In addition to looking good, Hebel offers some great environmental benefits (a key element the judges were looking for as they assessed the My Ideal House design competition entries).
“Building any new home will have some environmental impact, but Hebel treads fairly lightly on the planet,” says Melissa Nguyen, marketing and brand manager for CSR Hebel. “Independent testing shows that Hebel PowerPanels use 60 per cent less embodied energy and produce 55 per cent less greenhouse emissions than concrete or brick veneer.”
Nguyen says thanks to its inherent thermal mass, a house built with Hebel will also perform better than brick veneer in terms of both heating and cooling. This can potentially save the homeowners about $400 a year in heating and cooling energy costs, and earn the home half a star more in the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS), adds Nguyen.
Its mass acts as a buffer, too, blocking external noise. “A wall system can go a long way to creating a sense of peace and quiet,” she says. “Compared to fibre cement and other substrates, the use of Hebel for exterior walls can significantly reduce noise from external sources such as traffic. When it’s used for upper floors, it can reduce sound transfer between levels as well.”
INDEPENDENT TESTING SHOWS THAT HE BE L IS
SIGNIFICANTLY MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY THAN CONCRETE OR BRICK VENEER.