Now, fellow Gippslandian here’s something to be proud of, Australia’s most sustainable street can be found in our region — Periwinkle Place at The Cape in Cape Paterson, to be precise. Recently, the suburb welcomed the completion of a home with a remarkable 10-star energy efficiency rating. Being the inquisitive types, we had to learn how the team behind the building pulled off such a feat.
Thankfully, Brendan Condon, the Director of Australian Ecosystems and a member of The Cape development team, graciously welcomed our queries and set about informing us on a project that’s captured the attention of Australia’s leading architects and discerning public alike.
Could you please provide some further information on the team that has delivered the ‘10-star home’ and The Cape development? What are their motivations for the project?
The team behind The Cape include me – with a background in the housing industry working on building wetlands and sustainable landscapes for major estates, TS Constructions – a quality sustainable building company from Wonthaggi, Small Giants Developments from Melbourne who are behind Melbourne’s most sustainable apartment project The Commons, Martin Builders – a quality sustainable building company from Inverloch, and a new company the Sociable Weaver – which is a joint venture between Small Giants and Martin Builders.
All of the team are committed to lifting the standards of Australian housing so that our homes are more energy efficient, better quality and have lower running costs.
Why develop the project in Cape Patterson? Is it because a couple of members on the team enjoy a sneaky surf or are there facets of the site that are appealing when applying this technology and architectural response?
The Cape was chosen as it’s an idyllic coastal location within two hours from Melbourne, with great views
to Wilsons Promontory, Cape Woolamai and the Bass Strait, and has great swimming and surfing beaches.
We wanted to prove that a project of this high calibre was possible in regional Victoria, not just the city. The Cape is the family beach that a number of the team have been visiting since childhood, so there’s a bit of self-interest involved because several of the directors will eventually be living in the project and enjoying the benefits alongside everyone else.
Can you please explain the technologies embedded in the ‘10-star home’ and what makes them so beneficial?
Currently, all the homes in The Cape are achieving over an 8-star energy efficiency, placing them in the top 1% of sustainable homes in Australia. They are all “suncatchers”; built with great passive solar design to capture the gentle winter sun which is invited into the home, warming up the thermal mass, such as polished concrete floors and rammed earth walls, which keeps the homes naturally warm during the day and holds that warmth overnight. In the summertime, when the sun is higher in the sky, shade structures block the hot summer sun, and the thermal mass acts like a cool store or wine cellar.
In addition to the 8+ average star ratings (compared to the national average of 2 to 4 star energy efficiency rating in existing Australian homes), the homes also have a highly energy efficient fit-out with LED lights, new ultra-efficient split systems for heating and cooling and high performance all electric heat pump hot water systems, in addition to solar energy. The combination of all these things can reduce bills to below $500 per annum, and some homes are aiming to zero their bills, compared to national average energy bills which are now around $3000 per annum for conventional homes.
Living in a passive solar home is hard to explain until you have experienced it, but it could be described as effortless, unforced, with year-round comfort.
The 10-star home, built by The Sociable Weaver, is Victoria’s first home with such a high-efficiency ranking. It uses passive solar principles, as well as some high tech “phase change” materials in the roof and walls to help the home achieve year ‘round comfort, without requiring mechanical heating and cooling.
Do you think that The Cape is having an influence on other housing development sites? Where do you hope the project will lead you to in the future?
The Cape has already had a significant influence on other projects with lots of initiatives being copied by other quality estates such as Mullum Creek and Aquarevo estates in Melbourne.
The Cape also features a very interesting and highly efficient community garden, which is producing large volumes of fresh produce for residents. Fed from rainwater harvested from the rooftops of the Stage 1 homes, the Cape Community Garden is forecast to produce around $140,000 in produce per annum when fully constructed – making it another positive initiative that could be further explored in future.
Our team is keen to see all Australians have access to good information to build better performing, low running cost, comfortable homes, and to enable this we have made a number of house construction designs and floor plans as well as the internal fit-out and operating systems downloadable from our website for free.