Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions about environmental design. We recently began a series of posts covering the WHY, WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and HOW of sustainable design. You can read about the “WHY” here and the “WHO” here. We’ll be tackling the other topics in the coming months, but today I want to briefly discuss “WHAT is a sustainable house?”
I recently gave a presentation on this very topic to a large bunch of sustainably minded folk in Ballarat. I was invited to present at “Ballarat Green Drinks” which is part of a global organisation of volunteer-run events, where a guest speaker will chat about their particular interest in sustainability, and hopefully inform and inspire others. It’s also meant to be very much about having casual forum where the community can have a drink and meet with some like-minds. I’ve written about the “Worlds Biggest Green Drinks” Ballarat-event previously, and also a review about a Green Roofs presentation last year.
I only had half an hour to try to cover an enormous topic, so I tried to break it down into 10 main points of what I think the characteristics are that make a truly sustainable house. This was a bit of a utopian vision, as although there is encouraging progress with many new homes and renovations starting to take some energy-efficient principles into account…we still have a long way to go. This talk was not meant to be about HOW to achieve a sustainable house, nor was it about me spruiking my services and how I could help. In this forum, it was an opportunity to remind everyone WHY we should do sustainable design in the first place, and to understand the philosophy of what sustainable-houses of the future could (or should!) be. I also covered why I became interested in sustainable homes, and some historical references relevant to our region.
“What is a Sustainable House?”
A sustainable house is a house like a tree.
I was first introduced to this idea by Michael Mobbs, in his book ‘Sustainable House‘, who said “A tree must meet all its needs for food, energy and water where it stands.” And also in Peter Graham’s book, ‘Building Ecology‘: “Buildings are a part of earth’s eco-systems…but they are rarely treated as such.”
My presentation had illustrated examples of each point with statistics and quotes, so I’ll cover these in future posts in much greater detail, but here’s a quick summary:
1. a sustainable house is… site specific
2. a sustainable house is… small
3. a sustainable house provides… shelter and comfort
4. a sustainable house is… well-designed
5. a sustainable house is… self-sufficient (solar energy)
6. a sustainable house is… self-sufficient (water)
7. a sustainable house consumes… minimal resources
8. a sustainable house… doesn’t pollute
9. a sustainable house is… responsibly inhabited
10. a sustainable house is… beautiful and loved
Did you attend the Ballarat Green Drinks Presentation? If you haven’t already done so, I’d LOVE your feedback via this little survey – it will only take a few minutes. A HUGE thanks to everyone who have responded already, there’s been some insightful feedback, and it has given me plenty more questions which I will answer in future posts. (Or please feel free to leave a question in the comments below!)
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