Sustainable House Day was this month and a chance to inspect houses that have been designed, built or renovated with sustainability in mind, as well as the opportunity to talk to owners and receive unbiased advice.
One of the houses on display on September 16 was Miranda Corkin’s strawbale home, which won an award from the Building Designers Association of Australia.
Ms Corkin said she chose strawbales over other natural materials for several reasons.
“Living in the upper Blue Mountains, insulation is crucial for thermal comfort and strawbales provide exceptional insulation [approximately R7 or 8],” she said
“The walls are 500mm thick, and have a beautiful aesthetic look, with deep, rounded window sills.
“The other key benefit is the comfortable air quality. The strawbales, rendered with lime, moderate the humidity inside by allowing water vapour to be absorbed and pass through the walls, known as ‘breathability’.”
In addition, the floor is concrete slab, and some internal walls are solid cob – a mud/straw mixture, which also provide thermal mass.
“This is a key feature of solar passive design: using the passive properties of the building materials and the solar warmth from northern sunlight falling onto those materials, in order to reduce the need for ‘active’, ie. powered, additional heating or cooling,” Ms Corkin said.
Ms Corkin enjoyed building a sustainable house so much that she trained as a building designer and now has her own company, MKC Building Design & Drafting, to encourage sustainable building.
Her advice to anyone thinking about sustainable building is to talk to experts in the field, others who have been through the experience, and be realistic about the practicalities.
“It is not necessarily overall a cheaper building method than conventional builds because of the labour and time involved,” Ms Corkin said.
“But it’s an adventure, a challenge and a hugely rewarding achievement to create a comfortable, efficient and unique home for yourself and your family, and an absolute joy to live in.”
More details: sustainablehouseday.com.
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