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The Most Inspiring Sustainable Homes Of 2020

Sustainable Homes

With the climate crisis ever more urgent, we made it our mission to cover more homes with sustainable design measures on The Design Files in 2020.

Partnering with Sukin and later Bank Australia, we brought you a new column featuring architect-designed homes with a minimum 7 star rating on the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS), as well as several other homes in the sustainable realm throughout the year. 

If there’s one thing these homes show us, it’s that sustainable design doesn’t mean compromising on aesthetics. Not only are these homes designed with the planet’s future firmly in mind, they’re some of the most eye-catching properties we’ve had the pleasure of exploring this year.

5th January, 2021

An Ultra Energy-Efficient Makeover Of A Victorian Country Home. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

An Ultra Energy-Efficient Makeover Of A Victorian Country Home. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

An Ultra Energy-Efficient Makeover Of A Victorian Country Home. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

An Ultra Energy-Efficient Makeover Of A Victorian Country Home

We’re always inspired by sustainable design, but there’s something particularly impressive about upgrading an older home to meet modern performance standards.

This period house in Victoria’s Hepburn Shire has been reworked and extended with a new highly energy-efficient addition designed by MRTN Architects

Energy-efficient appliances, solar panels, and a heat pump hot water system add to the property’s eco credentials, resulting in an 8 star NatHERs rating. Post-occupancy testing shows the house maintains a natural temperature between 18 and 26 degrees for 93 per cent of the year!

Revisit the original story here

This Sustainable Apartment Is A Little Slice Of LA, In Melbourne. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

This Sustainable Apartment Is A Little Slice Of LA, In Melbourne. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

This Sustainable Apartment Is A Little Slice Of LA, In Melbourne. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

This Sustainable Apartment Is A Little Slice Of LA, In Melbourne

When designed well, there’s a lot to be said for apartment living. For one thing, Melbourne’s population growth simply can’t sustain the outdated Australian dream of a quarter-acre suburban block, but beyond that, thoughtful medium-density development offers affordability and sustainability that is otherwise difficult to achieve, especially for first home buyers in capital cities.

One of Melbourne’s most successful recent multi-residential projects is this uniquely ‘breathable’ apartment building in North Fitzroy, designed by Fieldwork architects for Milieu.

Illustrator Samantha Curcio and primary school teacher David Waddell live here, and invited us in for a tour of their personalised space featuring an array of fun, quirky styling details!

Revisit the original story here

A Heritage Home, Retrofitted To The Highest Sustainability Standards. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

A Heritage Home, Retrofitted To The Highest Sustainability Standards. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

A Heritage Home, Retrofitted To The Highest Sustainability Standards. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

A Heritage Home, Retrofitted To The Highest Sustainability Standards. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

A Heritage Home, Retrofitted To The Highest Sustainability Standards

This Armadale period home renovation again proves sustainable design is not limited to newly-built properties. 

The combined passion and expertise of Eme Design, and owner Cameron Munro, has seen the once draughty Victorian house become an airtight home.  To achieve this, a ‘membrane’ was wrapped around the house, making it 15 times more airtight than a conventional new Australian home, and reducing the need for heating and cooling by more than 90 percent!

Revisit the original story here

The Perfect Prefab Home in South Gippsland. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

The Perfect Prefab Home in South Gippsland. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The Perfect Prefab Home in South Gippsland. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The Perfect Prefab Home In South Gippsland

With Australia’s construction and demolition industry producing over 20 million tonnes of waste a year (30 per cent of the country’s total waste), the value of prefabricated construction cannot be underestimated.

Among home owners who have adopted this method of building are Michelle Dixon and Chris Miller, who own a house in Bena, South Gippsland, made by Prebuilt and designed by Pleysier Perkins. This sustainable home (affectionately known as the Cubby House Farm) is the family’s weekender.

Given the relatively isolated location of the property with limited access to local trades, a prefab home made sense for Michelle and Chris. This carried the added benefit of minimising construction delays (due to the controlled environment), and allowing any material waste to be stored in the factory for later use. 

Revisit the original story here

A Sustainable Inner-Suburban Home, Designed To Be Deconstructed + Reused

Every piece of this house’s cladding and decking (except for the shower) has been screwed and bolted together (rather than glued, cemented or permanently fixed), enabling materials to be dismantled and reused at the eventual end of the building’s life.

Breathe Architecture designed the house as three pavilions (for sleeping, bathing, and living), connected by a central ‘brise soleil’. This open-air yet covered walkway faces the creek on the home’s west, providing a visual connection to water and climate, while physically joining all areas of the home. 

It’s also a remarkably textural home, incorporating recycled timbers and rammed earth reflective of its natural surroundings facing Edgars Creek in Coburg North. 

Additional sustainable features include two 5000 litre underground rainwater tanks, an electric heat pump for hot water heating, and double-glazed windows. These factors, paired with the lack of fossil-fuel generated energy in the home, sees this house attain an impressive 7.2 NatHERs rating.

Revisit the original story here

The Davison Collaborative: A Game-Changing New Housing Project In Melbourne (+ Home To Three Couples!)

This three-townhouse project in Brunswick was the first to be created under the ‘Collaborative Development’ blueprint by HIP V. HYPE – a model that allows collaborators to join forces to create quality, more sustainable and financially accessible townhouse-style homes in urban locations. 

The original owners/collaborators of these homes were three couples: HIP V. HYPE director Liam Wallis and Katya Crema; Peter Steele, co-founder of HIP V. HYPE’s sustainability consultancy and recently at GreenSync, Sarah Kearney, and baby Mia; and Chris Gilbert (director of Archier, who designed the homes), Miranda Louey, and their son Arthur. 

The collaborators placed the utmost importance on integrating sustainable measures into the homes, such as solar panels that feed directly into a sonnenBatterie, double-glazed windows, and an energy recovery ventilation system. Electric heat pumps for hot water and hydronic heating further contribute to the homes achieving an 8+ out of 10 star NatHERS rating.

Revisit the original story here

An Unbelievably Energy Efficient 100-Year-Old Workers’ Cottage!

The owners of this Yarraville house were keen to honour their home’s history in a recent renovation, without compromising on sustainability.

Given the 100-year-plus age and condition of the existing house, many professionals advised completely demolishing and rebuilding, but owners Scott and Leanne were keen to retain as much of the existing building fabric as possible.

With the expertise of Altereco Design, the workers’ cottage has been totally transformed using recycled materials, a green roof, and solar panels to now achieve a 7.4 star NatHERS rating.

Revisit the original story here

A Stunning Coastal Home, Created From A Revolutionary Building Material

There were two projects shortlisted in the 2020 TDF + Laminex Design Awards Residential Architecture category that prominently featured cross laminated timber (CLT), including this spectacular home by FMD Architects with Vistek Structural Engineers on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. 

CLT is a panelised material made up of layers of sustainably-harvested timber that offers a beautiful, offering a sleek, contemporary look. 

FMD Architects took the material to the next level in this project, making the material a distinctive feature of the interiors. Used on walls, ceiling and floors throughout with screw connections left exposed, the home has the feeling of a contemporary tree house. 

Revisit the original story here

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.