The ‘Mainstreaming Zero Energy Homes’ project looks at the viability of building Zero Energy Homes, or homes that meet their own energy requirements. According to a recent report by the CRC for Low Carbon Living, the organisation conducting the project, if all new homes were built as Zero Energy Homes, total emissions could be reduced by around 700,000 tonnes per year.
Volume builders, developers, and other industry players including Parklea collaborated on the project, participating in brainstorming workshops on cost-effective approaches to implementing Zero Energy Homes.
Next, these scenarios were modeled using the state-of-the-art AusZEH Design Tool. Energy-efficient appliances and solar power systems were then selected to meet the needs of the average household and achieve zero energy.
This research guided the design of three Zero Energy Homes in Australia, one in Melbourne, Townsville, and Canberra. The project partners for the Melbourne home were Parklea, SJD Homes, South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA), Sustainability Victoria, and CSIRO.
One of the key findings across all three homes was that energy efficiency is increased significantly by additional insulation, glazing upgrades, and energy-efficient appliances such as air conditioners, heaters, and hot water systems.
Surprisingly, the PV system (solar power system) required to meet the requirements of a typical household is relatively small, so long as the home is designed appropriately for the area’s climate and appliances are energy efficient.
The next stage of the project will involve assessing building costs of Zero Energy Homes compared with current costs, as well as conducting market research to gain consumer feedback, preferences, and budgets. This information will be vital in determining how marketable Zero Energy Homes are. Certainly, the cost-saving aspect is appealing, provided homes are affordable.
Sales and Marketing Manager at Parklea, Jarod Mills said the project’s findings will be instrumental in the planning of future developments and has already facilitated valuable collaboration with builders. “We are pleased to be a part of the exciting Zero Energy Homes project and it is a great opportunity for us to gain insights into sustainability that we could implement longterm in our building design guidelines for future estates,” said Mr Mills.