A Framework for Climate Action
ARC Climate Emergency Working Group Report 2020 for emissions reduction, carbon sequestration and climate change adaptation.
Armidale Vegetable Sowing Guide
This guide shows planting time periods that should allow you to get a crop in Armidale.
Lightbulb Moments
Take control of your electrical use & costs with this Resource Guide Online PDF and Print PDF for welfare agencies to assist clients, colleagues and community.

The 2021 Sustainable House Tour experience

Every two years since 2012 SLA has held a Sustainable House Tour. 2020 was a dud because of covid-19, but last weekend the fifth House Tour was on again. This tour was different than previous years, with the focus on renovations. Lengthier conversations were held the first hour of each session. 71 people joined in these conversations, creating a social dimension as friends met and strangers interacted.

The feedback we got was very positive. Certainly Mahalath and Bar and I found we learned more about people’s interests and concerns than in previous years. It allowed home owners to enlarge on the history of their house, on what they had done and what they would like to do in the future. This led to more shared discussion and questions.

Different themes emerged from discussions at the five houses on the tour. One house illustrated how comfortable and spacious a small house can feel. Another showed opportunities for multiple uses of space. Yet another demonstrated the value of living in a house for a while to see how it felt, what might be done and how they actually wanted to inhabit the spaces. The owners of another showed how, depending on available finance, changes can be made slowly over time that result in significant cumulative savings. Another house extension demonstrated qualities that help to make spaces suitable for older people.

Insulating ceilings, walls and floors and double glazing windows were changes everyone found made a huge difference both to their comfort and electricity bills. In two cases at least, it was first necessary to fill holes and gaps under doors and windows and seal air vents and fireplaces. Recycling was another valuable feature by saving embodied energy and preserving beautiful materials.

The location of windows primarily facing north, made an immediate impact on the feel of a house and its efficiency. Replacing halogen and incandescent lighting with LEDs, particularly kitchen down lights, was a definite saving. Curtains with pelmets helped prevent warm air being drawn down over cold glass at night. People solved this with different kinds of materials, including insulated blinds.

One house, in particular, demonstrated the value of changing activities according to the seasons. They have a large southern verandah used extensively in summer, and a northern terrace to use in winter. One house with a contemporary extension, benefited from a polished concrete floor. This solar mass held the heat long into the evening.

One of the great features of all our tours is the way houses reflect the owners’ aesthetics, both in terms of the changes they choose to make but also their paintings, colours, room sizes, and furniture.

We send gratitude to the five households that generously shared their houses this year and to all the participants who attended. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

By Patsy Asch 11.5.21

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