Zero Carbon House, SA

dsquared have provided project management, building simulation and ESD design advice to assist the creation of Australia's first certified zero carbon house at Lochiel Park Green Village, Campbelltown.

Winner: Zero Carbon Challenge 2013
Winner: People's Choice Award 2013
Finalist: AIRAH Sustainability Awards 2013

In an interview with AIRAH, featured in the January 2015 edition of the Ecolibrium Magazine, Paul Davy provided the following commentary:

For you, what are some of the stand-out ESD features/innovations in the Zero Carbon House?

"The house has near perfect orientation and glass-to wall ratios to maximise daylight and passive solar heating in the winter, whilst minimising solar gain in the summer. The building is thermally insulated to a level 30% better than building code and is fully double glazed. That keeps the thermal loads down to a minimum and opens up some great possibilities for alternative space heating and cooling systems. As well as the Climate Wizard for cooling, the whole house is heated with a bio-ethanol fire, which provides odourless, flue-less, zero emissions heating at very low running costs."

A generous 3kW PV array on the roof generates more energy than the house needs and the balance is exported to the grid in order to offset the building's night time energy use and emissions. The house has proven over the last year to be zero net electricity in operation."

What were the major design challenges? And how were they overcome?

"The project had to be delivered to a fixed budget. One of the competition rules was to deliver the house for a target construction cost of $300,000 maximum. Innovation at such a small scale introduced some potential cost barriers which wouldn't be there if the project was at a larger scale. Thankfully, a number of key product suppliers such as CSR and Seeley provided their time and expertise in design and product development at no direct cost to the project. As every partner on the project, we all made a commitment to focus on the outcome and invest our time accordingly.

The key challenge from an engineering perspective was providing a building that exported more energy over a year than it consumed, so that the exported energy and emissions could be used to offset the imbedded carbon in the building itself. To make this possible, the building energy footprint had to be as small as possible, and this was achieved through excellent sustainable design practices, and the whole project team focussing on sustainability as the key project driver from the outset."

What do you hope to see come out of this project?

"The aim of the zero carbon challenge house was to demonstrate to industry that zero net energy and zero carbon living is a practical and cost effective reality right now, not just a future dream. We achieved this through collaborative working and bringing key skills combined with the right attitude to the table. We achieved what we set out to do."

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