Explore our 'Melbourne Vernacular' project

A collaboration with AlterEco Design, the project’s goal was to spark conversations that accelerate the uptake of sustainable living. The design is uncompromising in style and environmental credentials proving that sustainable housing is worthy of mass adoption. It’s most popular aesthetic features are also responsible for its sustainable performance. Recycled red brick absorbs winter sun to heat the home passively. Radiant panels, heated by solar powered heat pump hydronics, blend seamlessly into the residence's period details. The charming green roof, together with double-glazed highlight windows, offer northern sunlight and glimpses of native plants throughout the home. It also provides additional outdoor space on the tight inner-city block while providing insulation, reducing storm water run-off and attracting biodiversity. The project was made possible by some amazing local partners including: The Alternative Technology Association, Wood Melbourne, Grüen Eco Design, EcoMad, Cantilever Interiors, Enviro Friendly Plumbing, ElecForce, Bank Australia and eColour Paints.

performance Overview

Size House 100m2, Land 186m2

Net solar energy exported to the community 2.5MW per year, enough to power an average 2BR home for 6 months

Total monthly utilities  $45.00 (Peak of Summer, December) $200 (Peak of winter, July). Total annual estimate $1300. A savings of ~$1500 to ~$1800 per year compared to comparable size gas homes.

Photography by Nikole Ramsay

In the detail...


  • 14 LG Neon 2 4.5kW (14 x 320 watt) solar panels. Five facing west to take advantage of late summer sun.
  • 14 Enphase Microinverters managed through Enlighten iPhone application.


  • EcoBee Smart Thermostat with four room sensors. Thermostat , controls heating, cooling and fans, is automated using GeoLocation technology and is voice enabled through Alexa Echo 
  • Tivok Heat Pump with 415L storage tank supplies hot water and hydronic heating. Can hold hot water at 60 degrees for 24 hours so functions as a battery. Timers automatically heat water using our solar energy during the day and it used at night when we need it
  • Wall radiators with Elgato Eve Thermo smart radiator valves. Valves are programmable and voice controlled using Apple HomeKit to allow for automated zoning.
  • Daikin 5kW reverse cycle smart air conditioning unit. Uses If This, Then That (IFTTT) a web service that allows smart devices to work with Alexa Echo 
  • Haiku L Series smart ceiling fans, programmable using senseME technology also voice activated using Alexa Echo


  • 3000lt Melro Slimline water tank connected to green roof, garden, toilet and laundry
  • Otis timber and brass shower head by Wood Melbourne, conforms to maximum WELS 3-star rating
  • Caroma shower head, conforms to maximum WELS 3-star rating
  • Water-wise plants native to the western plains of Melbourne all supplied by Newport Native Nursery
  • Rachio smart sprinkler controller. Automated water scheduling using pre-set programs and weather forecast, it is also voice controlled using Alexa Echo


  • Living spaces orientated north and sleeping quarters to the south
  • Polished concrete and recycled reverse brick veneer wall for thermal mass in north facing living areas
  • Eaves on all north facing windows protect living areas from summer sun and allow for passive solar gain in winter. Southern windows protected by bullnose verandah; minimisation of east and west facing windows. Soon to be installed: Somfy controlled smart external blinds.
  • Passive cooling and cross ventilation with passage from the south front door to the north back door promoting air movement when there are cool evening breezes; highlight windows at the middle and end point allows hot air to purge and naturally ventilate the home
  • Pocket doors separating living and sleeping areas allow for zoning 
  • Green roof by FytoGreen  affords additional outdoor recreation space, reduces stormwater run-off, provides insulation and cooling, attracts biodiversity and provides opportunities for additional food production on site


  • Colorbond True Oak Deep for roofing and extension cladded in ‘Surfmist’ for low level summer heat absorption
  • Recycled materials used where possible including red brick paving reclaimed and reused as an internal feature wall and external brick wall; bluestone foundations reused for the front paving; timber rafters reused as a bathroom feature; stumps reused for greenroof paving; 120 year old framing retained in the front of the house.
  • ECO by Consentino benchtops manufactured from 75 per cent recycled glass, mirror, porcelain and earthenware
  • Recycled carpet with cradle to cradle certification from Shaw Group 
  • Autex GreenStuf R2.5 or Earth Wool R2.5 HD combined with Kingspan Kooltherm insulation board and a breathable membrane. In total the walls are insulated to R3.5 +.
  • Autex GreenStuf R5.0 in the front of the house and GreenStuf R3.0 to ceilings plus insulating roof blanket.
  • Autex GreenStuf R2.5 for under floor insulation with all gaps and penetrations sealed with Sealey’s spray foam
  • Concrete slab is insulated on all perimeters and below with Kingspan insulation board.


  • Double glazed, argon filled, low-e films in Victorian ash frames manufactured by Steptoes Renovation Supplies
  • Thermally broken aluminium glass door in wet room by Autex Windows & Doors


  • Brightgreen canister LEDs throughout ensuring no gaps in the insulation were required. Supplied by Lighting Matters.
  • Philips Hue LED smart lighting for night time trafficable areas.


  • eColour Zero VOC paints used internally and externally
  • Pandomo FloorPlus cement finish to concrete slab supplied by Concrete Resurfacing Systems
  • All timber local, sustainably sourced and FSC certified. Australian Sustainable Hardwoods supplied the Vic Ash Glulam beams as a central structural and aesthetic feature in kitchen. Urban Salvage supplied yellow stringy bark internal flooring and Whelan the Wharehouse supplied spotted gum for decking.
  • All concrete and timber floor coverings have water-based sealants
  • Windows finished in Cutek cd50 low VOC in ‘grey mist’
  • Elgato Eve Thermo monitor which measures air quality and humidity so you know when to let in some fresh air. 


  • Fully electric home with no gas connection
  • Efficient appliances such as dishwasher, washing machine and heat pump all placed on timers to take advantage of solar energy
  • UseThings internal clothes drying pulley system to replace energy intensive clothes dryer
  • High ceilings and clever joinery allowing for ample storage in surprising locations
  • Edible garden from the Little Veggie Patch Co.
  • Composting system by Composta and Compost Revolution
  • 40+ indoor plants selected for air filtering supplied by Mosey