The build­ing style giv­ing back to the planet

It’s pos­si­ble to build a new house, lower your en­ergy bills — and take care of the en­vi­ron­ment

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - Words Robyn Wil­lis More archi­blox.com.au

QI want to build a new house and I’ve heard you can do it in a ‘car­bon pos­i­tive’ way. What’s that all about?

A Build­ing a home is a messy busi­ness that, by it’s very na­ture, con­sumes a lot of re­sources and pro­duces a lot of waste. Aside from the build­ing ma­te­ri­als, there’s of­ten ex­ca­va­tion re­quired, which in­volves dump­ing the ‘fill’ else­where, while left­over ma­te­ri­als such as tim­ber, brick and plas­ter­board of­ten end up in the skip bin.

So the idea of a build­ing that not only doesn’t harm the en­vi­ron­ment but makes a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion seems like an al­most im­pos­si­ble prospect. But that’s the aim of Mel­bourne-based com­pany Archi­blox that de­signs and builds pre­fab­ri­cated houses. While much of their busi­ness is based in the Mel­bourne area, their Syd­ney ney mar­ket is grow­ing.

Fab­u­lous pre­fab

Di­rec­tor Bill McCorkell (pic­tured) says the pre­fab­ri­cated hous­ing mar­ket is on the rise, ac­count­ing for 3 per cent of new builds.

Be­cause much of the con­struc­tion is done in the fac­tory, waste can be bet­ter man­aged for re­use and time on site is of­ten dra­mat­i­cally re­duced.

Bill says con­struc­tion in the fac­tory takes be­tween eight and 12 weeks for a stan­dard three-bed­room house, with another two weeks putting the build­ing to­gether on site.

They have also taken mea­sures to re­duce the ‘em­bod­ied en­ergy’ im­pact of de­liv­ery to the site on the back of a truck, in­clud­ing to in­ter­state sites.

“We’ve joined the Plant-a-Tree pro­gram, in part­ner­ship with Car­bon Neu­tral — a car­bon so­lu­tions provider and re­for­esta­tion de­vel­oper,” Bill says. “They work with or­gan­i­sa­tions across Aus­tralia to min­imise their im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. “The trees we have pur­chased to be planted will draw back car­bon diox­ide and other green­house gases from the at­mos­phere, as well as help many vul­ner­a­ble plant and an­i­mal species in the area to thrive.” He says more peo­ple are show­ing an in­ter­est in ‘car­bon pos­i­tive’ de­sign that is both in­ex­pen­sive to run and beau­ti­ful to live in. “The base de­sign of any car­bon pos­i­tive or car­bon neu­tral house re­lies on the prin­ci­ples of pas­sive de­sign, start­ing with ori­ent­ing a build­ing on its site to max­imise the so­lar and wind pos­sib pos­si­bil­i­ties,” Bill says. A car­bon pos­i­tive house is o one that cre­ates more en­ergy that it re­quires. “Car­bon pos­i­tive build­ings — which also cre­ate no net an­nual emis­sions — gen­er­ate more m en­ergy than re­quired, req feed­ing it back to the grid,” gri he says.

Back to na­ture

Bill says their houses ap­peal to clients for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, from cou­ples look­ing to down­size to fam­i­lies seek­ing a stronger con­nec­tion to the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

“An Archi­blox home is de­signed to con­nect us with na­ture, with a seam­less in­side-out con­nec­tion, bring­ing in nat­u­ral light to the home and nat­u­rally cre­at­ing a cool house in sum­mer and a warm house in win­ter,” Bill says.

Rain­wa­ter tanks, grey wa­ter sys­tems and so­lar pan­els are also avail­able to re­duce on­go­ing waste and gen­er­ate more than enough elec­tric­ity to keep the house run­ning all year.

“If the house pro­duces more en­ergy than it con­sumes, there is the pos­si­bil­ity to be paid for con­tri­bu­tions back to the grid as well,” Bill says.

Ma­te­ri­als are cho­sen (above, left) for their re­new­able cre­den­tials and low Volatile Or­ganic Com­pounds (VOCs) for bet­ter in­door air qual­ity.

This Archi­blox house in Avalon on the north­ern beaches has a roof gar­den for in­su­la­tion and is de­signed for cross ven­ti­la­tion.

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