Green Home Renovation: Australian Home Builder Creates Water-Conserving House That Captures And Treats 100% Of Its Own Water

25 05 2011


  • Many areas of Australia are operating under severe water restrictions
  • Architects and builders throughout Australia are incorporating advanced water-efficient measures that U.S. water experts point to as practical solutions for our own looming crisis

    The collection tanks feed into the main 32,000-liter tank at the back of the house, where the water is filtered before use via the chemical-free Ecotrol-Radfire system from Australian manufacturer Puretec. The ultraviolet-light treatment destroys microorganisms found in unchlorinated water such as bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungal spores. It operates at a flow rate of 91 liters per minute.

  • Builder Joe Mercieca produced a user-friendly and extremely water-conserving house that won last year’s GreenSmart Award for Water Efficiency from the Australian Housing Industry Association
  • The house, completed last April, captures and treats 100% of its own water, making use of it twice inside the house before employing it for irrigation
  • The whole-house water processing system cost $54,000 (about $55,300 in U.S. dollars)
  • For emergency purposes, the house is tied in to the municipal water system
  • But the reservoir tanks hold a 250-day supply of water so that even with no rainfall his family of five could live in the home for more than six months without tapping into the town’s water supply
  • Rainwater collects on the 3,700-square-foot home’s four slanted and curved corrugated metal roofs and flows into three tanks
  • It is screened and gravity-fed into a 32,000-liter main tank at the rear of the house
  • There are four tanks are capable of holding 90,000 liters
  • The water in the main tank is pressurized and pumped into the house for showers, cooking, drinking, and dish washing
  • To bring it to drinking water standards, it is cartridge particle- and UV-filtered before entering the house
  • A compact greywater system re-treats wastewater from this first round of use and prepares it for washing laundry or cars, toilet flushing and above-ground garden watering
  • A 3,000-liter polyethylene tank at the back of the house holds the treated greywater
  • Once it is utilized a second time, the water diverts into the blackwater system’s 1,500-liter underground tank
  • This water undergoes a sanitizing process with the wastewater irrigating the site’s 5 acres of lawns and gardens
  • The house has no access to the municipal sewer system
  • The home is also miserly in how much it uses, with dual-flush toilets, low-flow faucets and showerheads, and an ultra-efficient washing machine and dishwasher
  • The fixtures are certified to a minimum 4-star rating out of 6 in the country’s Water Efficient Labelling and Standards (WELS) initiative, a joint program of federal, state, and local governments.

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Green Home Remodels And Renovations: Contractors And Architects Must Educate Homeowners On The Most Effective Way To Maximize A Home’s “Geography, Structure, Systems And Aesthetics”

17 12 2010

The FHA 203k Renovation Loan is the only true Green Home loan.

The remodeling contractor has to educate the homeowner to take the most effective approach for the project.

  • Geography :  “If you’re building a new home, the lot is the most important thing. If you’re doing a retrofit, you have to respect the existing architecture. You have to understand where the home is, what direction it faces, what you may need to change about the overhangs, things like that.”
  • Structural: “A rammed earth house may work great in New Mexico but it’s perfectly worthless in Michigan. You have to respect the structural aspects. People read about a certain system and want to build their addition in that way, but I have to tell them I can’t build that for you in this state. I’m in the Mid- Atlantic region where we have a mixed-humid climate that is just vicious to build in. You have to be on your toes to know what you’re designing in that market.”
  • Systems: “If you have a super air-tight house you don’t need a huge mechanical system. Or if you can use radiant instead of forced air or you can use less plumbing, or if you’re using solar thermal you don’t need as big a water heater. The structure will tell you a lot about what kind of systems to use.”
  • Aesthetics: “Too often homeowners start with the aesthetics, but that’s stuff you can go back and change. You have to know the systems first before you pick out recycled glass tile or a sustainable bamboo floor.”

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FundMyRemodel “Green Homes”: 1950’s Palm Springs Home Is Renovated Using Sustainable Materials And Energy-Efficient Design (Video)

8 11 2010

A look at a mid-century green remodel of a modern home in Palm Springs by architect Eric Corey Freed and contractors Green Guys Construction.

Prepared for the 3rd Annual Palm Springs Sustainability Summit.

SOURCE: KPSP News 2 – Eye on the Desert
DATE: November 2, 2010

Green Home Renovation: Fall 2010 Issue Of “EcoHome” Features Alex Wilson, Founder Of Environmental Building News (EBN) And Nationally Recognized Champion Of Sustainable Building

31 10 2010

CLICK ON "ECOHOME" TO VIEW ONLINE EDITION “Green Mortgage” Update: The FHA 203k Is The Only Real “Energy And Green Improvement” Mortgage As Few Lenders Bother To Understand And Offer “Energy Efficient Mortgages” (EEM) And “Energy Improvement Mortgages” (EIM)

22 09 2010

These programs are not new; they have been around very a long time, 15 to 20 years. Lenders are not offering them because they don’t know enough about them and they don’t think they are necessary. They are not required to even discuss them.

What is on the horizon for green mortgages?
Short of a true green mortgage (which does not exist), the closest program is the FHA 203(k). This program can allow you to add both energy and green improvements to a home. There’s a lot more noise about them right now. I believe we will see some changes to the programs in the months to come but I encourage everyone in the industry to ask that their lender learn about these programs and start offering them.

What are EEMs and EIMs?
These are loans that credit a home’s energy efficiency in the mortgage itself, giving borrowers the opportunity to finance cost-effective, energy-saving measures as part of a single mortgage. They allow borrowers to stretch their debt-to-income qualifying ratio in order to qualify for a larger loan amount and a better, more energy-efficient home.

An energy efficient mortgage (EEM) is typically used to purchase a new home that is already verified by a third party as energy efficient, such as an Energy Star-qualified home. An energy audit, performed by a certified energy rater, is required to prove efficiency and report expected monthly savings.

Energy improvement mortgages (EIMs) are for existing homes that need an energy retrofit. An energy audit identifies items that will make the home more energy efficient, and the costs of these improvements are added to the mortgage loan. EIMs are available for either a purchase or refinance of an existing home.

EEM and EIM guidelines are different depending upon the type of loan, so be sure the lender you are working with understands the details. FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac all have EEM and EIM programs.

The market for these types of mortgages should be very popular considering the fact that out of 128 million existing homes in this country, 95 million need some type of energy retrofit. The average American home is about 35 years old. Insulation wasn’t required until the mid ’70s. Energy efficiency wasn’t really considered until the 1990s. Look at all these homes that need energy retrofits and then look at all the refinances we’ve had recently: How many of the owners of those homes were offered an EIM? Not many, and getting an accurate count has been near impossible. It’s a crime.

For more: Green Homes: UNLV Center For Energy Research (CER), Pulte Homes And NV Energy In Collaboration To Develop Advanced Energy-Saving Technology In Homes (Video)

11 09 2010

Robert Boehm, Ph.D., the director of the UNLV Center for Energy Research (CER), describes the Villa Trieste project — a collaborative effort between UNLV, Pulte Homes and NV Energy to produce residential homes incorporating advanced energy- and cost-saving technologies. CER researchers are monitoring the real-world energy usage to help design the next generation of residential energy systems.

“” Green Homes: Tuscon Home Harvests Rain Water, Uses Runoff From Showers, Laundry And Sinks For Irrigation And Has A 3.2-Kilowatt-Hour Solar Panel System

10 09 2010

“…the home should become the first in Tucson to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certified platinum rating, said Rich Franz-Ünder, Pima County’s green building program manager. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design…”

A north-side home, built by a father-and-son team, is slated to be the first in Southern Arizona to receive the highest rating for energy efficiency given by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The first house in Southern Arizona likely to receive the highest rating, LEED certified platinum, for energy efficiency. Photo courtesy of NICOLE BRULÉ-FISHER

The house at 1240 E. Blacklidge harvests rain water, uses runoff from showers, laundry and dishes to irrigate desert landscaping, and has a 3.2-kilowatt-hour solar panel system.

Of course, the first thing a meticulous, eco-friendly homebuyer may notice when walking up to the house is the fountain bubbling in the front yard. Fountains use power and lose water through evaporation.

But Drew Lutz, who built the house with his father, David, said the two balanced the energy cost of each component with the comfort it may provide. Someone, after all, is going to live there. The fountain adds aesthetic appeal and drowns out the street noise from nearby Mountain Avenue, he said.

“The biggest thing is compromise,” Drew Lutz said. The ultimate aim is to sell the house and make a profit.

The 2,000-square-foot house – listed at $440,000 – is no doubt a higher-end product. It has glossy, scored concrete floors, bamboo cabinets and large insulated windows. It’s surrounded by corrugated metal fencing accented with caged rock pillars. Drew Lutz said he and his father, who together make up Lutz Construction, wanted to incorporate a new look into Tucson’s traditional feel.

“I feel like Tucson is lacking in modern design,” he said.

In the coming weeks, the home should become the first in Tucson to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certified platinum rating, said Rich Franz-Ünder, Pima County’s green building program manager. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

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