Inside Canberra’s zero energy home

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A home that creates the same—or more—energy than it consumes? It may sound like something futuristic, or at least the kind of abode restricted to the upper end of the price spectrum, but Zero Energy Homes are a real thing.

Net Zero Energy Homes are homes designed to produce and collect more energy than they use to run them. They are highly energy efficient, through a combination of good design and quality construction, and include a roof-top solar power generation system and battery storage that balances the house’s estimated power load over the year. While they are currently still quite rare, a world where most homes run on zero energy may not be as far away as you think.

A two-year project was conducted in Australia exploring how Zero Energy Homes could be something that can be rolled out on a large scale for everyone. Funded by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Low Carbon Living and led by Dr Josh Byrne, the Mainstreaming Zero Energy Homes project followed three land developers and builders in three different states to look at how a standard project house design could be turned into a zero energy home.

Researchers from the CSIRO and Curtain University sat with the building designers and undertook a design review workshop where design tweaks were modelled in real time to assess which changes made the most impact. Research findings were then recorded to help inform policy initiatives, from the cost and design implications, through to market and industry interest.

The first home in the project was built by Finlay Homes at North Shore in Townsville, while the second was built in Melbourne in an established display village at the 750 lot Timbertop land estate in Officer by Parklea.

The third house was built by Rawson Homes in Canberra as part of the Ginninderry GX Display Village, Canberra’s first 6 Star Green Community.

While it may look just like another display home in the village, the home has been built based on the industry’s most advanced research into energy-efficiency.

Boasting a 7-star energy rating, Rawson’s ‘Grace 25’ is a single storey home which combines efficiency with attainable family luxury. It features four bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open plan design made with families in mind, plus an alfresco area and double garage. It’s not only a stylish home, but clever energy features throughout ensure it costs virtually nothing to run.

“The Zero Energy Homes project was a really valuable experience to be a part of,” said Jessica Stewart, Sustainability Manager for Ginninderry.

“It was really interesting to see how simple tweaks like adding double glazing, insulation and modifying window sizes could change the ongoing running costs of the house.”

You can inspect the Grace 25 home at Ginninderry’s GX Display Village. You can also explore its sustainability features without leaving your own home by downloading the free GX Experience App.

For more information on the Mainstreaming Net Zero Energy Homes project, click here.

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