Owl Woods Passive House Passivhaus official finalist 2019 Sustainability Awards

Sustainability Awards 2019 – Official Finalist

We were honoured to recently be named an official finalist of the 2019 Sustainability Awards (Single Dwelling – New), for our Owl Woods Passive House project!

This was the first time we’d entered an awards, so were thrilled to be acknowledged for this sustainable Passivhaus home.

If you’re new to the Passivhaus/Passive House standard, you can read more here.

Why is a Passivhaus so sustainable?

  • With climate change, our seasonal extremes are getting worse. We have longer colder winters, and longer hotter summers. Spring and Autumn are very short, which is when we often have the temperatures that are most comfortable to us (between 20 and 25degrees celsius).
  • In our climate here in Victoria, usually 80% of a building’s energy use in its lifetime is attributed to running costs (and only 20% or less due to the embodied energy of the materials used to make the building.) So it is important to reduce this demand on our planet.
  • A Passivhaus focuses on a fabric-first approach, meaning that the building-envelope must be designed and built correctly to help separate indoor temperatures from undesirable outside temperatures.
  • A Passivhaus can reduce this operational energy by up to 90% , only needing the smallest amount of heating and cooling.
  • Most of the heating comes from the sun, the occupants, appliances, and the recovered heat (that doesn’t get lost out through the insulated and airtight building envelope).
  • The cooling comes from adequately shading the windows to prevent solar gain when it is not wanted (and the insulated and airtight building envelope helps keep the heat outside during summer).
  • The mechanical ventilation system (with heat recovery) ensures filtered fresh air all day every day. This runs on very little power.
  • Occupants can open the windows all year round, but ideally you are opening when the outdoor conditions are similar to your desired indoor conditions. (The argument for only using ‘natural’ ventilation in buildings is flawed, as the reality is that many people don’t open windows everyday due to undesirable temperatures outside, noise, safety, pollution, insects, etc.)

There was strong competition with 8 finalists in our category, with some amazing projects. You can see all them all in more detail here.



We were also proud to be the only all-female architectural practice, led by a woman architect and certified passivhaus designer to be shortlisted in our category. Out of the 8 finalists, only 2 were from regional areas, including us!

The awesome “Welcome to the Jungle” House by CplusC Architectural Workshop took out the winning prize in our category. I recently strolled past it when I was Sydney and it is very cool. I love how it is very private for it’s inhabitants even though on a corner block, and obviously has great connections to the outdoors & nature as an be seen by plants starting to take over… You can check it out here.

A special shout-out to friends and fellow ArchiTeam members from Melbourne who were also shortlisted in this category – Marc Bernstein from Melbourne Design Studio for “Biophilia – Slate House” and Ben Callery Architect’s “Elemental House” – both lovely homes and they’re nice guys too!



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