By Gill Baker, Wangaratta Sustainability Network
Sunday September 11 is National Sustainable House day, and what better way to spend a spring Sunday than visiting four fantastic sustainable homes and gardens in and around Wangaratta.
The Eco Living Precinct, at the Barr Reserve, Schilling St, also open for inspection, has directions to the homes (or go to wangarattasustainability.org).
Each house demonstrates a passion for sustainable living.
Mary’s house, 807 Wangaratta-Eldorado Rd., Londrigan, is small by today’s standards, nevertheless is a comfortable, bright and airy living space. Constructed three years ago on farmland, external walls are of rammed earth, the flat roof slopes up towards the north, and louvre windows help control temperature. Power comes from solar panels and a battery bank, rain water is collected, and waste water dealt with by a worm waste system. Mary’s home and garden is a work in progress, with outdoor wood fired oven and chooks on the wish list.
A large block at 15 Weir St attracted Ian and Yvonne because it is only one kilometre from Wangaratta’s CBD, yet has lovely rural views. It also enabled downsizing to one car. The house was planned from scratch using passive solar design and sustainable building principles. Outdoor living is a feature, with an insect proof outdoor room, and a wetland area fed by stormwater which also acts as a buffer in case of bushfire. Ian recommends that anyone wanting to build a house of this type read the Sustainable Energy Facts Sheets covering all aspects of design.
The ‘Granite Garden Tea Rooms’, at 286 Warby Tower Road, Killawarra, is now a comfortable home. Built about 20 years ago, facing north so winter sun warms slate floors, and eaves and pergolas with overhanging vines protect from summer heat. Thermal mass is achieved by mudbrick and stone construction on a concrete slab. The super efficient Jotul wood fireplace, which heated the tearooms, is a particular feature.
Retrofitting an existing home has its own set of challenges, especially when it dates back to the 1930s. At 5 Crisp St , Prue, Ian and their family have long been committed to lowering their environmental footprint. Passive solar concepts have been employed wherever possible, with solar electricity, heat extraction and insulation in the roof helping maintain comfortable internal temperature.
Many more features can be seen than are mentioned here. The houses are open from 10am till 4pm and entry is free.