Builders reaching out to nature in sustainable way
Renewable energy starts with good foundations, writes MELANIE CORAM
You’ve bought the land, considered the aspect and settled on style and maybe, guiltily, even set your heart on European kitchen tiles made with precious metals.
But in this planning of your dream home, how much energy have you put into how it will be powered?
Builders, architects, developers and engineers are pooling their considerable smarts and experience to come up with new ways to power the home.
As the price of heating and cooling our homes rises, more of us are looking to the elements for a solution that is kinder on the wallet and the planet.
Wind, wave, direct geothermal and biomass energy sources are still experimental, niche or not applicable for WA — at this stage.
Solar power remains the shining example of renewable energy in the home market.
David Morgan is the founder of Iron Matrix, a company that is creating an energy-efficient housing construction system.
Making the most of his commerce and engineering degrees, he was spurred “to maximise the access to free energy and then most efficiently use that energy”.
Mr Morgan worked in the oil and gas industry for 18 years before making a green career shift.
“I had a front row seat to seeing how these (oil and gas) projects were getting less and less economically attractive,” he says.
“The hydrocarbons in reserve aren’t getting easier to produce.
“But on the other hand, things like solar and batteries are going in the opposite direction; they’re getting cheaper and easier to produce and easier to access.”
Mr Morgan says the cost of solar panels has fallen to the point they are cheaper to buy than plywood.
When the cost of storage batteries for residential use also comes down, likely in the near future, renewable energy will come into its own as a viable, everyday option for home builders.
“When that day comes, all our lifestyles and the way our houses are designed will all be around this battery and solar power,” he says.
“It’ll be inevitable that we end up switching over.”
Mr Morgan foresees a third change — a shift to direct current applications in preference to alternating current — to come out of the solar revolution.
Lobby groups say the Australian building code needs to be upgraded if the country is to be fit for a zerocarbon future.
The Built to Perform report by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council and Climate Works Australia says setting stronger energy standards for new buildings in the code could, between
now and 2050, reduce energy bills by up to $27 billion, cut energy network costs by up to $7 billion and deliver at least 78 million tonnes of cumulative emissions savings.
Mr Morgan says while there is a place for energy efficiency, the future of sustainable construction will involve greater generation of free, clean energy rather than minimising fossil fuel-based energy.
Solar panels are seen as the way of the future. Picture: Getty Images
The 24-apartment Evermore development in White Gum Valley.