Architect: Michael Mobbs- Sydney, Australia.

The building and design:

  • The architect of the sustainable house was Michael Mobbs, a Sydney environmental lawyer, and his lawyer wife Heather Armstrong.

  • About four years was taken to plan the sustainable house, and to gather information about it before building was commenced. The house was opened in 1996.

  • The lessons that were learnt from the planning and building of this house were written in the book Sustainable House, because they want other people to follow in their footsteps and learn from their mistakes.

  • As an environmental lawyer he has had an interest in the sustainable design for years, advising about environmental law policy, technology and design to the government and other groups. He felt angry at the growing waste around him and that there was nothing he could do. Michael says that this project has liberated him from these very negative emotions.

  • When the 100 year old terrace house in the inner Sydney suburb of Chippendale was going to be renovated, they were just renovating the kitchen. But when they sat down to plan everything they decided to build a house that would be less of a drain on the planet's resources.

  • They didn’t want to use any rainforest timber, or any timbers or materials that produce toxins. Also, they wanted no PVC plastics or machinery that used a lot of energy. Or any materials that take a lot of energy to make. Ventilation was a very important issue.

  • They were on a budget, but didn’t want a house that looked or smelt strange, and wouldn’t lose its value.

How the house works:

  • All the water they use is rain water, collected in a big tank in the backyard.

  • Almost all of their electricity is generated from the sun from the solar panels on their roof. Even extra power is provided, feeding it back into the main electricity grid.

  • All of the water (including sewage) is recycled on site. The dirty water drains into a sewer pipe that empties underground and into a tank. It is then filtered through the dirt and organisms, in a similar way to rainwater. And then is clean enough to use again.

The achievements of the sustainable house:

  • Saves 102,000 litres of water which is left in the Shoalhaven river and Warragamba Dam

  • Keeps >60,000 litres of sewage out of the Pacific Ocean

  • Produces >100,000 litres of clean water

  • Saves 4.3 tonnes of coal from burning

  • Reduces carbon dioxide pollution from power stations by 8.3 tonnes. So the house cuts greenhouse pollution and cuts Council's waste by several tonnes.

  • The waste system recycles newspaper, kitchen scraps,compost

  • Produces $1119.30 of clean energy a year, or $3.06 a day

  • Keeps >80,000 litres of stormwater out of Sydney Harbour

Mobbs, M. (1998) Sustainable House. Australia: CHOICE Books

If you want any extra information about the costs of the sustainable house, Michael Moore's book 'Sustainable House' contains all that information, and how you can build your own sustainable house. I highly reccomend this book! There is way too much information that I couldn't include in this summary! Sorry, but you'll just have to find the book! It can be bought online at:

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