SUNDAY, September 11 was ‘Sustainable House Day’ at The Cape eco village in Cape Paterson, a location that distinguished itself as one of the top sustainable living destinations on the national open day program.
For more than 10 years, Sustainable House Day, an event organized by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), has provided a great opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people to visit some of Australia’s leading green homes, houses which aren’t only environmentally friendly, but also cheaper to run, stylish to look at and more comfortable to live in.
And with two homes already completed at The Cape, and several more on the way, there was a lot to see locally and the community responded in big numbers locally with between 200 and 300 people visiting The Cape.
Sustainable House Day gives visitors a chance to inspect firsthand houses that have been designed, built or renovated with sustainability in mind as well as the opportunity to talk to builders and designers to gain some insight into their innovative projects.
As well as the developer of The Cape, Brendan Condon, local builders Tony O’Connell of TS Constructions and Dan Courtney of Martin Builders were on site to meet and chat with visitors.
“The homes that have already been completed and the ones that are being built here all include a range of sustainable and energy efficient features from the north facing windows that warm the slab during the day to the highlight windows that allow you to purge the heat during the warmer months,” said Dan Courtney of Martin Builders.
Martin Builders’ new off-shoot, The Sociable Weaver, is also building a new home at The Cape.
Here you will also find the newest home on the estate, built by TS Constructions, which attracted a lot of interest on open day last Sunday.
According to Brendan Condon, the homes on the estate are great advertisements for themselves.
“They are so thermally efficient that the builders who were fitting the houses out over the winter, before the electricity was even connected, were working inside in T-shirts on the coldest days in July because the temperature will sit at between 18 and 25 degrees all year around without heating or cooling.
“You’ll never really need to turn on your air conditioner even on the hottest days. The homes are of course fitted out with heating and cooling, the most efficient on the market.
“But, whereas your average home will chew up between $2000 and $3000 annually in energy inputs each year, your energy bills in these homes will be less than $500.
“These are the homes of the future here today.
“They’ve all got solar systems and they’ve got electric vehicle charge points built in.”
Not only are they the most sustainable homes in Australia today, they also look fantastic.
“Now that there are more homes going up and the first stage of the project is starting to take shape, people can get a good idea of what it’s going to be like and you’ll start to see the pace of development increase from here,” said Dan Courtney.
“It’s an exciting project for the area, one that will continue to boost local jobs and interest in the local area.”
It’s well worth a look and is open most weekends.
Community Garden growing
A highlight for visitors last weekend, and a rapidly developing part of the project is the 5000sqm Community Garden, which collects and uses the stormwater runoff from the estate. The garden will eventually become one of the largest urban food gardens in Victoria.
Residents will enjoy good organic produce, lower food bills, as well as exercise, health and social benefits while working their green thumbs. There will be raised garden beds (already established), a greenhouse, composting areas, worm farms, tool storage, public art, an orchard and poultry.
One of the garden’s most innovative features is its rainwater harvesting scheme, subsidised by a grant from the Office of Living Victoria (OLV).
Pipes capture rainwater runoff from the houses near the gardens which will be used to water garden beds. The garden will also feature a recently-developed, vertical wicking garden bed design, also well worth seeing in action.
At the heart of the garden is the water tank, which will include a viewing platform with wheelchair access, offering elevated panoramic views of the garden, wetlands and the coast. The water harvesting scheme will generate an estimated 3.2 million litres of water for use in the garden, or 3.2 Olympic-sized pools.
As well as the massive Community Garden, developed in the shape of a surfboard, there’ll also be almost one million trees, shrubs and plants being planted at The Cape.