See sustainable houses this weekend

Beautiful aesthetics
Beautiful aesthetics

Sustainable House Day, this Sunday September 16, give you the 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 will be Miranda Corkin’s strawbale house 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). 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’,” she said.

Curved walls

Curved walls

In addition, the floor is concrete slab, and some internal walls are solid cob, (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.

The strawbales, rendered with lime, moderate the humidity inside by allowing water vapour to be absorbed and pass through the walls. Photos: Keith Maxwell

The strawbales, rendered with lime, moderate the humidity inside by allowing water vapour to be absorbed and pass through the walls. Photos: Keith Maxwell

Mc 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 sustainable building, 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.

“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.