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East Brunswick
Victoria 3057
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Sustainable Home office in Moonee Ponds

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Glenn and Karen’s desire to have a lower storey office, combined with the sloping site provided us with a tremendous opportunity to look at traditional living spaces in different ways. The result is a terraced living space that is filled with natural light. The difference in levels is the maximum allowable without the need for any balustrades. This openness contributes to a very dramatic and unexpected living space not often found behind the façade of a double fronted Victorian home.

Part of the intrigue of this house is that it doesn’t immediately reveal itself from the street. After entering the front door the house shows only hints of its individuality - the hidden entry into the ensuite, a glimpse of the curved wall of the bathroom. It is from here that the house opens right up and unveils a truly unique yet inviting space. It is very much a reflection of the people who live there.

“We wanted a house that confirmed our commitment to the environment” said Glenn who runs his publishing company from home; he needed an office where he and his employees could work. The couple wanted two bedrooms, one for guests and an open plan living area and kitchen conducive to entertaining. They wanted a cellar and an IT room near by the office. With the house perched on a hill, they wanted the renovation to make the most of the views. They kept the façade and the front two rooms of the original house and built a new bi level dwelling behind it. The home now has a 7 Star rated performance and it requires minimal heating and no additional cooling. Running a home business, the couple needed to ensure they had energy to run the computers whenever they needed it. So when they installed a grid connected solar- panel system on their roof, they installed batteries as a backup.

All the inefficient lighting was replaced with energy efficient downlights. Reducing water usage was also a priority so 2 x 9,000 litre water tanks were installed and a 3,000 litre underground greywater recycling system concealed under the deck. The house is 90% self sufficient in water but a two way connection valve is installed when for periods when there is no rainfall.

The block is oriented east west, so the full length of the house is exposed to northern sunlight. The design makes the most of this by including large double glazed windows.
The windows direct the sun to a concrete slab floor in the office, which then soaks up the heat and radiates it at night. In summer, awnings and internal roller blinds shade the windows. The slab is kept cool, and so is the house.

Energy Efficiency

• The Extension is oriented to the North and the upper storey is setback from the lower storey to maximize solar efficiency
• Concrete slab to create thermal mass
• Double glazed windows and doors
• Effective seals on all windows and doors.
• R4.0 polyester insulation as well as Air-Cell in ceilings with Tyvek green reflective wrap with R2.0 polyester batts in the walls
• Adjustable external shade blinds and sails for all glass surfaces facing west and north.
• Despite the site constraints; the renovation achieves a 15 point energy efficiency rating on the old First Rate Rating System (5 star rating is 7 points).
• Effective cross flow ventilation through thoughtful window placement and supported by ceiling fans in summer.
• The compact floor plan means maximum space utilization and aids greatly in enhancing the energy performance of the building


• Cannon Cambridge flued gas heater upstairs is used only on very cold days and usually requires the owners to open the windows shortly afterward.
• Highly efficient Rinnai Energysaver 308FTR – used in the downstairs office

Solar grid interactive power system

• Photovoltaics: 10 x BP 165 watt grid connected photovoltaic panels with 4 x Sonnenschein Solar Batteries 12V/185 Amp-hours

Hot water system

• Edwards Gas boosted Solar Hot Water System

Light fittings and appliances
• All lighting and appliances are energy and water efficient with at least AAA or 4.5 star ratings including Caroma Smartflush Toilets.
• Lighting CFL’s throughout the house and GU10 Megaman 9 watt CFL’s in original part of home. LED desk lamps.

Water supply and grey water system
• 2 x 9,000 rain water tanks connected to all downpipes with a 3-way valve to allow for mains supply when there is no water available.
• Gardensaver grey water recycling system.
• The house is up to 90% self sufficient in water.

Sustainably sourced materials

• Reinforcement. Smorgons ARC steel which has a recycled component
• Eco Blend Cement
• Framing – Plantation pine
• Decking - Dressed Silvertop decking boards from Radial Timber Sales
• Skylights: Velux VS0075 with external awning blind and 4 Velux FCM 3030 curb mounted skylights with high performance glazing and external blinds
• Extensive draft proofing to windows and doors
• Exhust fans fitted with backdraft inhibitors
• Ceiling sweep fans to circulate air on hot summer days
• Recycled Messmate overlay flooring
• Kitchen recycling bin
• Plantation Hoop Pine Veneer Brimsply doors to wardrobes
• Reconstituted stone Benchtops
• Internal paint: Wattyl ID Environmental paint

Sanctuary Article