Living with the Future In Mind

The ‘Step House’ by David Barr Architects was the winning entry for Landcorp’s Generation Y competition where the brief was to provide an affordable housing solution and address the requirements of the Generation Y lifestyle. The result is a cosy, interlocking triplex building that provides very low carbon living at an estimated 64kg of CO2e per occupant per year. For comparison, the World Bank lists Australia’s CO2 emissions at about 16,900kg of CO2e per capita in 2010-2014.

  • Date: June 2015
  • Architect: David Barr Architect
  • Builder: Perth Builders
  • Location: White Gum Valley, WA

Results Summary

Impact AreaTotal CO2e / Year / occupant (kg CO2e)% Saved Against BenchmarkeTool Medal
Embodied Carbon1103-13%Bronze_medal
Operational Carbon-1039132%
Total Carbon6498%

Project Features

Photovoltaic System + Battery Storage Management System

The triplex development has a 9kW PV system combined with a grid connected battery storage management system. The batteries store renewable electricity generated during the day to be used by the occupants at night. The system however ensures that excess energy that is generated after the batteries are full is still fed back into the grid to help reduce the carbon intensity of the grid.

Low Embodied Energy Materials

After much consideration, the architects decided to choose what’s better for the environment by going for low-impact timber framing, recycled bricks and blast furnace concrete mix slabs for their building envelope instead of only concrete as per their original design. This choice proved to be very challenging due to the need to balance between meeting legislated minimum thermal performance compliance and reducing life-cycle carbon impacts. After much consideration and some design adjustments, compliance was achieved without compensating on reducing embodied carbon impacts.

Energy Efficiency

Passive solar design,  ceiling fans, LED lighting, and energy monitoring systems help to significantly lower the operational costs and energy impact of the home.

Gas Cooking and HWS

Gas as an energy source has a lower carbon intensity compared to electricity in WA.

Low Water Use

Low water landscaping and communal rainwater tanks help reduce water demand. Low flow shower heads also have the added benefit of reducing water heating loads.

This assessment was conducted by Fei

Fei Ngeow