to contain the soil to stop it from sliding. One thing I’d also advise people: hire a licensed contractor with experience building them.’ His commitment to sustainability progressed naturally, from both an inherent wish to make a difference and a disheartenment from witnessing thoughtlessly wasted or mismanaged resources on construction sites. ‘If I can do my little bit and throw less into landﬁll, imagine what that would mean if thousands of builders [and consumers] started doing the same thing?’ he asks. Part of his approach to lessen each project’s environmental impact includes assessing and repurposing existing building materials wherever possible – ‘we reused the existing sandstone on another terrace restoration… hand-shaped it ourselves and ﬁxed the damaged pieces’ – or extensive recycling – ‘we had less than one tonne of waste on the Lodge development when it’s more common for 10–15 tonnes’. For Chris, building sustainable houses is more than just installing water tanks or solar panels. While these are worthwhile property additions to reduce our reliance on mains water and electricity, he believes in a holistic approach that considers all aspects of design, materials, long-term resource efﬁciency, liveability and site management. For homeowners who want a home that’s sustainable and comfortable, he says they must get three elements right: orientation, insulation and glazing.
‘You’ve got to work with the land and your surrounding environment to make sure the design orientates the home so it allows a lot of natural light as well as cross-ventilation for draughts,’ Chris explains. ‘This contributes to how well the house performs.’ Insulation is also a massive beneﬁt and doesn’t cost the earth, he says. ‘Insulation is very important, and should be used wherever possible. [Additionally] try to insulate the house from the outside, rather than just the inside, by awnings or products like Unitex panels, which have a hard surface and can be secured onto your home with an acrylic render ﬁnish.’
2014 winner Forest Lodge Eco House
HE BELIEVES IN A HOLISTIC APPROACH THAT CONSIDERS ALL ASPECTS OF DESIGN, MATERIALS, LONG-TERM RESOURCE EFFICIENCY, LIVEABILITY AND SITE MANAGEMENT
It’s commonly thought that doubleglazed windows are the ideal energyefﬁcient choice to keep your home at temperate levels, but Chris says highperformance, environmentally-friendly glass is a more affordable alternative and is worth investing in. ‘[Poor window insulation] allows a lot of heat or cold in, meaning you are dependent on the mechanical heating/ cooling of your home which obviously adds to your utility bills,’ Chris says.
‘[Consider] high windows or an openable skylight to allow hot air to escape in summer.’ While Chris steers clear of trends – ‘we try to set the benchmark’ – he is seeing more enquiries for underﬂoor heating, and in this instance, would recommend solar hydronic heating for interested homeowners. However, simple consumer choices like shifting to LED lighting or upgrading to higher energy star-rated white goods and water-efﬁcient tapware can also reduce everyone’s energy usage and environmental impact, he says. ‘Many people just look at the dollars, but if it’s a short-term cost it may often be a long-term saving. For example, a 5000L water tank may cost you $5000 to install, but you save that over the years – and you’ve got constant water.’ gs