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Green architecture

The cheapest way to heat your home with renewable energy

By Green architecture, News, Reduce heating & cooling costs
Households are turning to sustainability Step by step, householders are making economic decisions that will eventually lead to many completely disconnecting from the gas grid, as they find gas to be an increasingly costly secondary source of home energy. This is particularly true when it comes to space-heating. When the cost of operating a modern reverse cycle air conditioner (known in Tasmania and elsewhere around the world as a heat pump) can be one-third the cost of heating with gas, why wouldn’t a householder have a look at the possibilities?Another attraction is that heating with a reverse cycle air conditioner is largely renewable. Our research has quantified that reverse cycle air conditioners in Australia recover more renewable energy than do all of the millions of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. Who knew?
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The battery revolution is exciting, but remember they pollute too

By Green architecture, News, Reduce heating & cooling costs
Transitioning battery technologies for a greener economy We have also seen the development of an aluminium-ion battery that may be safer, lighter and cheaper than the lithium-ion batteries used by Tesla and most other auto and technology companies. These advances are exciting for two main reasons. First, the cost of energy storage, in the form of batteries, is decreasing significantly. This makes electric vehicle ownership and home energy storage much more attainable. The second, related reason is that these cheaper green technologies may make the transition to a greener economy easier and faster than we have so far imagined (although, as has been recently pointed out on The Conversation, these technologies are only one piece of the overall energy puzzle). Beware the industrial option These technological advances, and much of the excitement around them, lend themselves to the idea that solving environmental problems such as climate change is primarily a case of technological adjustment. But this approach encourages a strategy of “superindustrialisation”, in which technology and industry are brought to bear to resolve climate change, through resource efficiency, waste reduction and pollution control. In this context, the green economy is presented as an inevitable green technological economic wave.
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Granny Flats, Studios and Secondary Residences

By Green architecture, Green Factsheet, Modular housing & Granny flats
Are you considering building a studio? Lots of people are interested in putting a studio or a granny flat (GF) onto their property and we thought it would be helpful to run through some of the issues that need to be considered when doing this. Common reasons for a granny flat or smaller ‘secondary residence’ (ACT planning term for a granny flat) include; generating additional rental income, accommodation for ageing parents or separation from teenage children. Building a secondary residence can be thought of as a sustainable exercise, as rather than purchasing additional land, you can utilise existing infrastructure and provide housing diversity by introducing new contemporary suburban houses. Sadly, many secondary dwellings don’t eventuate due to the expense involved in complying with sometimes onerous legislation, particularly in the ACT. Secondary residences in the ACT Secondary residences in the ACT must comply with the Residential Zones Development code and the Single Dwelling Housing Development Code.There are two ways to go about putting an additional residence on your block in the ACT; either as a dual occupancy or a secondary residence. A dual occupancy must comply with the Multi Unit Housing Development Code and is only possible on blocks bigger than 800m2 in RZ1 (Residential Zone 1) A secondary residence (GF) can be built on any block larger than 500m2, may be less costly in terms of government fees and cannot be sold separately. A secondary residence must also be designed…
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Solar Power – What is the return on the investment?

By Green architecture, Green Factsheet, Solar power
Solar energy (energy from the sun) can be used in a passive (see our Fact Sheet on thermal mass) or in an active way. Solar electricity (active) is often referred to as Photo Voltaic (PV) power as it is produced by PV cell collectors. The most common active uses of solar energy are for solar hot water heating and for solar electric power. Solar hot water heaters are usually roof mounted and can be flat-plate collectors with either an integrated hot water storage tank or a separate tank, or evacuated tube collectors with a separate tank. We asked local industry expert David Payne from SOLARGAIN to write an information sheet on solar hot water heating and solar electric power for us as we have dealt with him over many years, and value his industry knowledge immensely. David Payne: Investing in Solar (the facts behind the myths) Today more than ever investing in solar electric power & solar hot water is one of the best investments one can make. Dramatic reductions in the capital cost of solar systems have been seen over the past 5 years and coupled with the ever increasing cost of energy means anyone with access to capital should really consider solar has a part of their investment portfolio. ‘But with the removal of government high feed-in Tariffs, I’ll never see my money back’ This is a common opinion within the public when it comes to solar and…
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Thermal mass – How it works to heat and cool your home

By Green architecture, Green Factsheet, Thermal mass
In the recent heat wave conditions of early 2014 where temperatures reached the mid-40s, our houses did not need air conditioning to maintain a constant temperature of around 25 degrees effectively making them ‘climate proof’ The use of thermal mass significantly reduces energy usage in residential buildings and provides the ability to maintain a comfortable internal temperature in a house with no mechanical cooling and minimal mechanical heating. This is important as the cost of electricity rose approximately 94% between December 2007 and March 2013. Thermal Mass is a measure of the heat storage (thermal) capacity of a material. High thermal mass materials take a long time to heat up and a long time to cool down ( Thermal Lag). When exposed to external (solar) heat, materials with high thermal mass (heavier and denser materials like concrete, stone, solid brick) can store more heat than their light weight low thermal mass (straw bale, timber, brick veneer) counterparts. This means that it is possible for high mass buildings to suppress or ‘dampen’ maximum indoor temperatures. Time delay and Damping (Decrement factor) Time delay or thermal lag plays a large part in thermal efficiency. Thermal capacity means that a material takes a long time to heat up and a long time to let this heat through and to release the heat; this delay is known as thermal lag. For instance, Concrete 100mm thick has a 4 hour lag and concrete 300mm thick…
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