Putting our homes to the test!

We all know building sustainably and making the right environmental decisions for your home can seem complicated, so we’ve decided to show you how simple it really is using eTool LCA…

Alex Bruce our Business Development Manager and in-house renewable energy engineer lives at 1 Wylie Place in Leederville, Perth. As some of you may know, Leederville is a very trendy area north of the river with lots of mixed development houses, units, shops, restaurants, a cinema, supermarket and many other businesses.

It’s part of the City of Vincent and just one train stop from Perth Underground Station, a 10-15 minute ride from the office (20-25 minutes if you’re me) or a 10 minute drive depending on the traffic.

Alex’s townhouse is a two floor, double brick construction and part of a Strata complex built in 1986.
So to get the LCA started, Henrique inputs the number of bedrooms, the construction type, suburb redevelopment potential, design quality and expected occupants. All of this information helps determine how long the building can last in terms of durability and also the design life.

As you can see below, although the building can last up to 175 years, due to the redevelopment potential of Leederville as an inner city area of Perth, the design life is 70 years. When designing a new building, these factors are very important as they help determine what kind of design is appropriate for an area, for example you wouldn’t want your beautiful new home redeveloped in 20 years time now would you?

Once the design life has been calculated, Henrique goes through the design sketch and specs and adds all of the construction information. It’s a pretty lengthy process as with both a new build or retrofit, we have to account for every material, where and how they have been transported, how the building has been assembled, trade staff and energy systems.

Now that we have all of this information in the LCA, we can see what uses the most amount of carbon. Alex’s pie chart shows that the operational energy is the biggest factor, which is the day to day running of all the appliances and heating and cooling etc. After operational comes the materials and recurring factors which are roughly 18% each.

Instead of leaving it as is, we offer recommendations to best optimise the design and make it as sustainable as possible…

Henrique’s recommendations will help lower the carbon impact of the house through better material selection and construction methods and give you the best return on investment in the long run.
With both retrofits and new build, it’s very important to consider using the most efficient energy resources available. In Australia, solar hot water and solar PV are great options to generate electricty and hot water for day to day living, but there is a huge variety of clever alternatives for each climate zone.

As Alex is a renewable energy engineer, he was very keen to be self sufficient and generate enough electricity to run the house and sell the excess back to the grid. From the Operational Energy chart below, you can see the cost implications of running a home, and using eTool LCA you can calculate how much money your chosen energy system will save you every year.

For a detailed look at the results of Alex’s case study, click here.

If you want to make your home design or retrofit more sustainable, send us your projects details today!