Innovation House

Darren wanted to build Innovation House to give the public more information about how houses can perform in tropical climate zones such as Northern Queensland. After teaming up with technology specialists and university researchers, the three year project has developed into a study with the Finlay family totally onboard. The house which is set for completion in July 2013 will go on show for 12 months so people can see for themselves the financial and economic benefits of a sustainable home and lifestyle.

In 2014, Darren and his family will move in and live in the home whilst updating systems where necessary to create even greater energy efficiency and lower living costs. Detailed information such as live data performance will be available through a university website which Darren hopes will set new benchmarks and help find alternative solutions to how homes are designed, built and lived in.

  • Assessment Date: January 2013
  • Completion Date: July 2013
  • Client: Darren Finlay
  • Builder: Finlay Homes
  • Location: Townsville, North Queensland

Results Summary

Impact AreaTotal CO2e / Year / occupant (kg CO2e)% Saved Against BenchmarkeTool Medal
Embodied Carbon58929%etool bronze medal smll Innovation House
Operational Carbon– 474115%Platinum medal Innovation House
Total Carbon11597%Gold medal Innovation House

The house will be fully monitored and potential improvements can be incorporated and may improve project results.

Project features

Design life

Increased functionality, quality and innovation resulted in a high design life ensuring materials would be fully utilised.

Energy Monitoring System

Automation system capable of controlling every device and appliance, as well as capture data from the home’s energy, water and waste output. Energy monitoring allows occupants to understand what appliances and devices are demanding the most energy, adjust behaviour accordingly and therefore increase environmental and financial performance of operational energy usage.

Thermal Performance

Being a NatHERS 10 stars house, it requires very low cooling load to keep 120 m2 of conditioned space comfortable all year round. Thermal control represents 18% of total estimated energy use and it uses efficient refrigerative air conditioning system to cool it down during hot Queensland days.


Use of low embodied energy materials such as light timber construction. Well insulated light frame wall system is part of the 10 star Energy Rating design.

Use of blast furnace slag in concrete mix for slab and foundations to reduce concrete carbon intensity.

Hot water system

A specific hot water system comparison was carried out using eTool LCA to quantify carbon benefits of using solar with gas boost when compared to other systems. The system will have large primary energy benefit from gas (only when boost is required) by burning fuel at source, as well as reducing tank losses with instantaneous over storage solution.

Renewable Energy

Use of  a 4 kW solar PV system to provide the house with clean energy. Solar PV has a high embodied carbon component and without it the design would have achieved a better Embodied Energy rating. However, the substantially reduced Operational Impact due to the renewable energy input offsets this increased Embodied Impact many times over during its design life.

Additional Features

• Polished concrete floor finishes to reduce recurring impacts over its service life.

• House plumbing is set up to permit gas cooking. Different cooking methods will be used to monitor both environmental and financial performance. Cooking with gas is recommended due to the benefit of burning fuel at source and considering  current carbon intensity of electricity grid.

• LED lighting throughout.

This assessment was conducted by Henrique.