Every two years, Sustainable Living Armidale holds a sustainable house tour. The next tour will be September 8-9.
On alternate years, SLA organises a backyard garden tour.
Houses have been chosen to represent a range of designs, age, construction, materials, size and technology. There is an owner-built mud brick house, built over 18 years; there is a new house and a large shed built of compressed earth; and there is a renovation done for someone with a disability.
There are several new houses, both architect and owner-designed, there are renovations that incorporate old and new sections. Many of the houses include interesting recycled materials.
No house is totally sustainable. Our goal is to foster conversations about how to make houses more comfortable while using less energy, about what is possible given different locations, finances and existing structures.
Owners have identified features they feel are effective and things that could be improved. Participants are encouraged to look critically and to go home with ideas they might be able to implement.
While many of the houses have solar panels and solar hot water, there are many other things visible in the tour that can be done easily to decrease the electricity needed to live comfortably.
All houses have embodied energy, the energy used to create all the materials in a house. Old timber houses that have lasted for decades, often built from locally sourced wood and local labour, have relatively low embodied energy; whereas newer houses made of materials manufactured elsewhere, often of non-renewable materials, have much higher embodied energy.
Generally, the larger the house, the more its embodied energy.
Armidale has a huge supply of old houses which can be renovated to make them more livable and energy efficient, rather than assuming new houses are the best environmental option.
Buy a booklet from Armidale Outdoors (Rusden Street), from Black Jacks Bar (corner of Marsh and Barney streets) or from the SLA stall in the Sunday Market. The booklet contains a description of each house, a map, opening hours and several articles. It allows you to bring a carload of people to all the houses. Each house will be open two half days over the weekend of September 8-9.
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