Setting out to build a zero carbon house that's both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing is not a small task. When you've got some of Australia's best architects, designers, and green building experts on your team, however, it's a challenge few would pass up. Earthcare Developments, working together with local architecture firm Officer Woods and using life-cycle analysis software designed by eTool, recently unveiled 58 Stevens Street: a low impact, recycled townhouse that saves energy, water, GHGs, and carbon.
In order to understand the magnitude of what has been achieved at 58 Stevens Street, we must first understand what “zero carbon” really means. There are some variations in interpretation, but most agree that a zero carbon home is one that generates as much power as it uses over the course of a year and therefore has net zero carbon dioxide emissions.
To achieve net zero carbon emissions means striking a precise balance between the amount of carbon used to build the home and its energy-generating potential. To calculate the carbon, energy and cost impacts of the project, eTool LCA measured every element including materials, transport, assembly, operation and demolition to give a ‘whole house’ assessment. Then, energy-efficient solutions were incorporated, such as solar hot water to reduce electricity and gas demands and low-carbon materials for long-term sustainability.
Always looking for ways to achieve beauty without waste, Officer Woods utilized high-quality recycled products throughout the zero-carbon home, including timber, bricks and limestone salvaged from the site. Over 90 percent of all the construction waste was recycled and diverted from landfill, offering huge carbon savings compared to the average industry practice of 20 percent. Additionally, rainwater tanks are dual plumbed to all internal toilets and washing machine – 3000L and excess water flows into a large underground storm-water soak.
What Earthcare, eTool, and Officer Woods achieved in Western Australia is truly spectacular, and rejuvenates the area’s traditional industrial architecture into an exciting, sustainable community. The achievement wasn’t lost on the AIA (Australian Institute of Architects WA), which awarded 58 Stephens Street the best residential and sustainable development in July 2012.