Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Lovely friends have emailed me and posted on fb about that last post.  Yay!

Kindly, they thought we did quite well J.

And Dave asked if we were living in our home permanently?  And was it warm and quiet?

Yes, Dave - to all J.

But (I have to have a but…ok, three buts – one for each) – we haven’t unpacked everything yet, we still feel a hint of cold and, while it is quiet from outside to inside, the inside of the house is reasonably noisy.

Now, none of these is a criticism at all, just observations.  This house is just lovely to live in and we love so many features – my favourite is the eastern gable window (I just love the light and sunshine streaming in every morning – it makes rainbows on the floor J) and Michael’s favourite is the jarrah boxed-in beam (he likes how it looks like it ‘belongs’).

So, would we change anything?  Hmm, now I was thinking about this last night – because since we have moved in and realised the inside sounds get through the walls, I had thought I would say that we would not use wool batts again as internal insulation, but when I thought again about why we chose them, the reasons would make me choose them all over again over any other product (the clincher was I still would have wanted a natural, low-processed product).

There are some other things that I thought too I might have changed – and the only one left that is a ‘maybe’ (all the rest have grown on me ;-) is that if the northern wall was full strawbale, we would have internal render on it and be able to look at the lovely character there too.  If you don’t remember (and there is not much reason why you would, eh?), it is a ‘faux’ straw wall = stuffed straw and render on the outside, plywood (for strength to stuff against) inside. But the reasons for doing it that way are still valid too (water isolation mainly) so, no regrets.

Do I really love this house this much? 

Yep, pretty much.  I am still spending time just looking around and appreciating all that is lovely – walls (love our strawbale character – all the dings and bumps; love the white paint colour on all the other walls still too); bathroom tiles and bath (still love the colour and pattern and so nice to relax in solar hot water); jarrah kitchen benchtop (swoon – seriously love this!  And not at all difficult to put in the effort to look after it); doors and door handles (what is not to love?); recycled colourbond ceilings (love seeing all their colours and dings, bumps and scratches).   And I love too, that, after many, many months, we finally have real couches to sit on again and real crockery for eating.  It’s the small things folks, the small things.

But this big thing, our home, *is* very, very special.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Waaaay back, I came across this.
And I promised a comparison of our home with this home in an ecovillage.

Here ‘tis:

101 Sustainability Features of a house at Currumbin Eco Village.
Our home
– how it measures up:
1. 1kW Kyocera photovoltaic system, which usually makes the house carbon neutral – operationally (and sometimes ‘Impact Positive’ ‘ producing more energy than the house needs).
5kW solar PV system to be installed asap – all wired up ready to go. 
Some electrical components recycled – eg. Power point covers.
2. Low wattage lightbulbs only: No lights over 15 Watts. No wasteful halogens spot lights that spread light into corners of the house that never get used. LEDs and CFLs and fluorescent T5s only
LED, CFL and fluoro lights.  Most light covers are recycled pendants. 
3. Lower wattage LCD TV, rather than a high wattage Plasma TV.
LCD TV (not in house)
4. No energy zapping clothes dryer.
Solar powered clothes dryer – recycled Hills Hoist
5. Standby power removed, all ‘Vampire/Phantom’ loads are negated by turning appliances off at the wall when not in use.
Hmm, probably not gonna happen 100% in our house.
6. Energy efficient refrigerator.
7. Energy efficient washing machine.
Not sure.
8. An ‘evacuated tube Solar Hot Water system’ a traditional home uses 28% of its power just to heat hot water.
‘Run on Sun’ evacuated tube Solar HWS
9. Use of gas instead of electricity for stove, oven and (backup) hot water heating requirements.
High efficiency induction cooktop, electric oven running mostly off solar PV when installed
10. Reticulated LPG gas removes the need for bottles on site, which reduces risk, transport (refilling) and materials (steel).
11. High efficiency Rinnai Gas Heaters (as it can get down to 0 degrees in the Valley in winter).
No space heating, but will be wood-fired pot belly and/or outdoor café blinds if required.
12. Use of recycled besser blocks.
Recycled bricks for plinths, salvaged bricks for bath hob
13. Extensive use of recycled timber (eg. floor boards from an old barns and bridge timbers).
Recycled jarrah battens, other structural timber FSC, recycled jarrah architraves, skirtings, window seats
14. Recycled doors.
Recycled and salvaged internal ­­­­­doors.
15. Use of bamboo decking from sustainably managed forests.
Salvaged and recycled concrete pavers to verandah area.
16. Use of a Hi-Macs benchtop (which is low-VOC, low waste and repairable, making it very long lasting).
Recycled jarrah kitchen benchtop – finished with Livos oil.  Lovely story to this wood.
17. Use of recycled steel (including train tracks for balcony beams, star pickets in the garden and corrugated steel sheeting in sections).
Structural steel not ‘recycled’, recycled colourbond celiling and verandah lining
18. Use of second hand furniture, made locally and from sustainably managed and certified forests where possible.
Second hand furniture mostly from local charity shops
19. Recycled spotted-gum and golden cypress timber kitchen doors.
Recycled jarrah kitchen.  Recycled laminate kitchen cupboards in hobby room and laundry.
20. Use of a second hand garage door with minor marks, but works just fine.
No garage door in house.  Verandahs sized for carporting.
21. Use of only local Australian tiles, rather than imported products which harbour many more ‘transport miles’ (embodied energy).
Imported new tiles for floors and walls; salvaged tiles for splashbacks
22. Use of long lasting plastic Splashbacks called Zenolite, that are 100% recyclable; rather than high embodied energy glass.
Salvaged ceramic tiles for splashbacks and laundry wall.
23. Solar North facing.
North facing
24. Maximised solar access (because with correctly sized eaves you can make the sun work for you) ie. elongated East-West building. Shading of all internal areas to reduce heat gain in summer.
Wrap-around verandah on all sides – protects east and west (trees also on west).
25. Energy efficient ceiling fans in all living areas .
No ceiling fans
26. A large central breezeway to maximise natural ventilation, removing the need to have fans on all summer.
Windows sited for natural ventilation
27. Suspended concrete slab in living area to provide additional thermal mass i.e. for a heat bank in winter and cooling mass in summer.
Concrete slab with ceramic tiles
28. High transmission, Low emissivity (low-e) glazing.
Double glazing, 5mm toughened glass externally for bushfire protection
29. Double glazing on the (few) western windows.
Double glazing all windows and doors.  Weather strips to all windows and doors.
30. Full length curtains and blinds to manage heat and cold.
N/A – but will install if required – with pelmets.
31. Design integrated to use the large tree on the site (to provide shading from the hot western afternoon sun.
House sited with trees to west. 
House sited to minimise site works too.
32. Roof design to ensure the photovoltaic panels are at the optimal pitch (25 degrees) and solar hot water (33-38 degrees).
Roof designed for bushfire protection and solar access.
33. More external (deck) space than a traditional home, as this is cheaper to build and encourages more outdoor living, where the quality of the air is greater and sun provides essential vitamin D etc.
3.5m verandah on all sides, 3 acre garden for Vit D.
34. Covered outdoor space to ensure all year round outdoor living is possible.
“Café” blinds may be installed to north for extra winter heat gain.  Verandah on all sides allows a year round comfort zone somewhere.
35. Inclusions to ensure a 7+ Star Energy Rating (using Accurate). This the minimum rating in much of Europe and USA. Australian States only typically mandate 5 Star.
House rated at 7.5 Star.
36. Use of bulk insulation and double-sided reinforced foil insulation to help keep the house cool in summer and warm in winter.
Roof and external walls strawbales.  Render is lime/sand – no cement.
All internal walls and the northern external wall are R4 wool batts.
37. External Ventilation around the refrigerator to ensure it works optimally.
Fridge situated next to back door for summer ventilation.
Pantry is earth-tube cooled.
38. Externally flued gas stove top to enhance safety and remove odours completely.
N/A.  Externally flued rangehood.
39. Security screening to promote breezes and safety.
Jarrah framed flyscreens internally (casement windows)
40. Use of clerestory windows to bring more light into the living pavilion and onto the strip of suspended concrete slab.
Eastern gable window.  Roof ‘framed up’ for skylights if required.
41. Use of louvre windows to maximise airflow and control.
Eastern gable is louvres.
42. Use of large ventilated skylights in bathrooms and corridor to remove the need for lights during sunlight hours and encourage natural ventilation.
External wall of bathroom is actually a sliding  (double glazed) door.  Eastern gable window is in the only hallway.
43. Sensor lights in corridors and walk in robes, to improve adaptability (which is part of sustainability) ie; ease of use, reduce energy and improve safety.
Sensor light in pantry.  Exhaust fans in bathroom and WC on timer controls.
44. Low and minimised lighting to adhere to the Dark Sky Policy, which minimizes glare, light trespass and light pollution, while maintaining night-time safety/security, security and does not adversely impact on night-time visual amenity. This policy also helps to reduce light pollution which disrupts the breeding cycles of insects which are vital parts of our biosphere. This includes the use of pendant lights to ensure light is applied more directly to where it is required (eg. bench tops and tables). Wall lights are also used instead of flood lights.
All internal lights are pendants or wall lights.  External lights are wall and ceiling mounted fluoros.  Conscious of keeping down light pollution.
45. Extra wide 870mm doors to cater for wheelchair access.
All doors minimum 870mm.  Door handles at 1m and power points at 300mm for accessibility.
46. Minimisation of stairs to enhance access i.e. ramps throughout and to each level.
Single level but would need a ramp for external door access as the step is high.
47. Semi-recessed bathroom basins (to enable wheel chairs to get under them).
No, had to change this unfortunately as could not get bathroom vanity cupboard as desired.  Bathroom vanity drawer unit is a ‘second’.
48. Hobless (step free) shower floors.
49. Separate and accessible Home Office.
Yes – in hobby room.
50. Adjustable height shower heads.
Yes, normal pivot one.
51. Lever or D-shaped handles for doors, cupboards and drawers
Yes, except where already part of recycled kitchen (may be changed in future). 
52. Rounded corners on bench tops.
53. Lever water taps.
54. Extra wide garage.
N/a though shed is big enough at 6x9m.
55. Single storey construction.
56. No ‘on site council rubbish service’ this encourages residents to reduce their waste. Residents then take their waste and recycling the central ‘Reduce, Reuse Recycle’ centre. All waste food is composted on site for use in productive gardens.
Smallest size wheelie bin used.  All paper and cardboard; and plant/food recycled on site
57. Water Efficient fittings shower heads i.e. high WELS rating.
58. Water efficient tap fittings.
59. Water efficient dishwasher (as on their ‘eco’ cycle, dishwashers can use much less water compared to hand washing).
60. Water and energy efficient front-loading washing machine.
Not yet.
61. Water tanks ‘ 45,000 litres on site – for all potable (drinking) water.
160,500L water tank as sole water supply
62. Gutter guard in all roof gutters to maximise on site water quality.
Leafless gutter guard – for bushfire protection and water quality
63. Connection to the Ecovillage recycled water system, that recycles all black and grey water
Gator Pro Grey water system, onsite septic tanks and plastic (recycled/recyclable) leach drains.
64. Use of Best Practice Guidelines for the ‘Control of Storm Water Pollution from Building Sites’
Swales to retain storm water on site, reed bed to be installed in future for ‘bog’ (habitat) area of block
65. Sediment and erosion control during construction.
Yes – spoon drains.
66. Recycled water back to the house for use in all toilets and irrigation on plants.
Grey water unit to water future orchard.  Rainwater for all other water.
67. The house is H-Shaped The house contains no electronic air conditioners, because it doesn’t need it.
House is rectangular for bushfire protection.
68. Recycling of 80%+ of all waste materials from site during and after construction.
Only 2 trailer loads of rubbish removed from site during construction – we recycled the excess concrete under the driveway, broke tiles as infill, mulched the plasterboard to add gypsum to our clay areas; shredded cardboard for compost.
69. Swale drainage to minimise the need for guttering and excessive water-flow control, and to control water for even garden disbursement.
Yes, as part of landscaping to come.
70. Native species (Australian) to reduce weed species and support local wildlife eg. native birds and bees that pollinate our fruit trees.
Yes – windbreaks all natives.
71. Endemic species – local to the area, to ensure drought tolerance etc.
Yes, sourced from Geographe Landcare Nursery.
72. Food producing species (fruit trees, herbs and vegetables) to make food available at the door, to reduce transport costs and improve human health.
Yes, raised vege tank garden mandela (recycled tanks) using Linda Woodrow’s “Permaculture for the Home Garden” designs, and orchard (to be established 2015)
73. Chickens: for local organic eggs and to fertilise the gardens.
Yes, asap.  Coop and run will be recycled wood frame, steel floor and recycled colourbond roof/walls.  Will try for salvaged wire.
74. Minimization of continuous strip footings to reduce the geological impact on natural water movement and erosion
No, didn’t do this one. 
Did use a barrier termite system though instead of sprays.
75. Use of only water-permeable road and pathways, to allow natural drainage to occur and avoid water build-up and hence storm-water management (road gutters).
Yes, salvaged concrete pavers and organic paths
76. No lawn to minimise water usage. Lawns are available within the community on a mass scale, which is a far more sustainable and community orientated solution.
Not yet, but may have some self-sustainable, drought resistant lawn at some stage.
77. Use of low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) finishes eg. low VOC Paint (Rockcote, Wattyl-ID and Resene).
Yes.  Only high VOC products were Sikkens wood stain and laminate paint.  Low VOC liquid nails is a great product!
78. Use of non-toxic cleaners, for dish washing, clothes washing, hand washing, body washing etc
Yes of course. 
79. No artificial sprays or herbicides on the garden to guarantee organic food production and remove the chance of runoff polluting nearby waterways and eventually oceans (where it all ends up eventually).
Yes of course.
80. 99% reduction in the use of PVC. We use HDPE instead for health reasons (as the use of toxic PVC is questionable).
No, couldn’t do this one easily.  Would have loved to!
81. No use of CCA treated timber which contains arsenic and still exists in ‘coppers logs’ in some children’s playgrounds.
Sorry, we have CCA treated pine wall frames.  Would definitely like to investigate alternatives.
82. Non-toxic timber finishes that are water based and don’t leach toxins into the local water supply.
Not all.  Sikkens and Livos oils used – both turps clean up.
83. Adequately illuminated and ventilated bathrooms and bedrooms to remove the ability of toxic mould to breed.
Yes.  We have a sliding glass door as the external bathroom wall, so it can be opened wide!
84. The Ecovillage has laid its own fibre-optic network underground to ensure it can provide all homes with high-speed voice (phone) and data (internet) services. This provides the opportunity for people to work from home and within the community, saving transport costs and time.
Well, we hope to have some home-based business opportunity.
85. The Ecovillage at Currumbin has developed (courtesy of the developer) its own tailor-made internal, community portal, that allows internal dialogue daily via email groups, of which there are over 40 optional sub-groups to participate in.
86. Data and coax points in every room to allow for independence.
No, too tempting for teenagers.
87. ‘Star wiring’ in sections of the house to future proof it. ie; CAT5 UTP Cable to all rooms for internet and VOIP phone connections.
88. Within walking distance of 100 friendly neighbours/friends.
89. Use of bikes to get to local facilities.
Can do to get to wood fired bakery and Simmos J.
90. EcoHamlet single lane roads to reduce car transport priority, making it safer for pedestrians.
91. Use of environmentally friendly appliances only (ie. those with 5+ energy and water star ratings).
Not all of ours would be 5 star in both ratings.
92. Operable ventilation in clerestory windows to evacuate hot summer air.
Yes, in eastern gable
93. Reduce, Reuse and Recycling principles used throughout. The Ecovillage RRR Centre will facilitate this on a much wider community scale.
Yes.  Building waste minimisation.
94. Composting of all food scraps to reduce waste and enhance compost quality which is used to enhance food production.
95. Use of reusable bags and boxes for shopping and storage. Avoidance of non-recyclable packaging.
96. Residents give preference to purchasing locally produced produce.
Farmers’ markets nearby and backyard food production.
97. Minimise purchase of meat products and only from organic, local, free-range, humanely raised animals.
Try to do this.
98. Inclusion of a revolutionary innovative end-user touch-screen interface called EcoVision, which shows how the house is using water, electricity and gas (and temperature) in real time. This raises awareness of occupants and helps them to manage and reduce their utility consumption.
No, might investigate in future.
99. Built in the Ecovillage at Currumbin, to enhance sustainability on a local and more global scale. The Community ensures common facilities are shared which reduced embodied energy, greenhouse gases and maintenance costs eg; no individual pools allowed, everyone uses the beautiful community pool. The house also includes an intentional 15m2 of office space for local sustainable business.
Well this couldn’t happen for us – being as we are in a different state!  But we are in the old Rosneath Eco Farm estate.  Like the community pool idea though.  And would love a playground on our estate.
100. Respect for the traditional caretakers of the land, the Kombumerris at the opening of our community meetings and through naming of our Ecohamlets.
Yes!  We acknowledge the Wardandi people and their ancestors who first walked this land.
101. No artificial fencing to remove barriers between neighbours, encourage some tolerance, and encourage natural soft planting/hedges.
All fencing done by developers has wildlife corridors (openings) which is just lovely.
Used local tradespeople and suppliers (where possible) to promote community and reduce transport miles.
House designed so two rooms can become a ‘self-contained’ flat if required in future.
House designed with bushfire protection area –hallway.
Home self-designed using ‘A Pattern Language’ by Christopher Alexander.
Even with all these features the house is not perfect, but given the scope and limits, it can demonstrate that ‘anything is possible’.
Yes, we sure did try!

 So, what do you reckon?  Anything good on here?  Anything you think we mucked up on?