Agnes Nienhaus and Michael Shrapnel’s environmentally friendly Carlton home, allows them to perfectly demonstrate all their design and lifestyle philosophies, writes JARRAD BEVAN
Carlton couple throw open the doors of their environmentally friendly home
THROWING open the doors of their home to the public is nothing new for Carlton homeowners Agnes Nienhaus and Michael Shrapnel.
Next weekend they will participate in their second Sustainable House Day, an annual, national initiative that showcases environmentally progressive, sustainable houses.
The couple, owners of Beachouse Architecture, had about 200 people turn up to their open home last year.
Michael said it was heartening how many people were interested in sustainable building and took the time to come visit them.
He said people were looking for inspiration on a huge range of topics including their approach to passive solar design, the natural materials used in the home or speThey cific features like double glazing.
Agnes said while topical today, passive solar design has been around since Roman times.
“To orient your house towards the sun,
People step into our home and respond to it immediately — they say it is a happy house
have natural ventilation and the building materials you choose, it is an ancient way of building,” she said.
Agnes and Michael’s house is compact featuring two bedrooms and a single bathroom on a north-facing block.
focused on creating a beautiful shell that encloses around a healthy living environment.
They spend very little on heating and nothing on cooling the house.
Only a small amount of the household budget is put aside for electricity bills – and that includes the cost of running their business from home, too.
Michael and Agnes did not use any products containing volatile organic compounds when building their house – from the paints to the materials, everything was carefully selected.
Michael said newly built homes commonly have a glue-like smell that “almost
knocks you over” on entry. “We avoided that completely,” he said. Agnes, Michael and their daughter Carla have lived in their Carlton house for about three years.
Building the house allowed them to demonstrate their design and lifestyle philosophies.
“When building a new house people may see it as an opportunity to splash out and buy all the latest appliances for their huge new house to keep up with the Joneses, but our philosophy is quite contrary to that,” he said.
“In our professional lives we like to show people how they can live and build simply, with a small footprint.
“We created a beautiful living environment, people step into the house and respond to it immediately – they say it is a happy house.
“People ask us how to build economically, our answer is to simply put less in focus on what you need rather than what are told you must have.
“Using less is the key to sustainability.” Sustainable House Day will be held next weekend on Sunday, September 17. There will be 11 open homes in Tasmania. Visit sustainablehouseday.com to find details of a home near you.
ABOVE: Now three years in, Agnes Nienhaus and partner Michael Shrapnel and daughter Carla, top right, are loving living in their super sustainable home at Carlton.