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Surrey Hills house. In 2001, my partner Lena and I were faced with the prospect of living in a dark and dingy 1930’s duplex “one of a pair” solid brick dwelling built in 1930, renovating it, or buying another house. The old house had a maze of small pokey rooms. We viewed the high cost of selling and buying property, where a lot of money goes to the “middlemen and the taxman”, as a waste of money. We were really keen to make maximum use of the sun for heating and natural lighting, and decided to go ahead with renovating. We prepared a detailed brief covering our requirements, with a strong focus on low environmental impact features. After discussing the project with Andreas and Judy Sederof from Sunpower Design, we felt confident that we could achieve what we wanted, although the site and the existing dwelling presented challenges. It soon became clear to us that the expertise and ideas that experienced “sustainable and solar efficient” architects provide is invaluable.
There is growing interest in the community about sustainable housing and there has been a lot of recent media attention on climate change and Victoria's drought. There are significant opportunities for government to further promote the design and building of energy-efficient and sustainable buildings, both through incentive programs and legislation. The Bracks government announcement of another brown coal power station in Victoria is a step in the wrong direction.
We need to keep political pressure on for development and promotion of the use of renewable energy and set some stretch goals for sustainable housing. It may be cheaper to put solar panels on everyone’s house rather than build another greenhouse gas belching power station. Every new dwelling should have solar hot water and large rainwater tanks. Solar efficient dwellings are good for the environment and very pleasant to live in.