Rebuilding Energy Wise after The 2009 Gippsland Bushfires

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Rebuilding Energy Wise after The 2009 Gippsland Bushfires

Postby Vando » Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:46 am

I never really cared much for the whole "Solar" thing initially because of the crap a whole lot of "Greenies" put out and still put out about almost everything in the world. My motto back then - and to some degree even now that the Greens have so much power in Government, was "Fertilise the bush - doze in a Greenie".

The cost of Solar was a n=major deterrent a few years ago as well. It was only because we were rebuilding after the 2009 bush fires that we started looking seriously at "Green Energy Products" and of course solar was the supposed logical conclusion. With Government rebates and a generous rebate of $0.66c per KWH from the power retailers we were able to afford a 2KW system with a 3,9KW Inverter and had it installed on the roof of the garage in which my wife and I are living whilst we rebuild.

But that was only the beginning. When we designed our new home we wanted to almost guarantee a bush fire would never again be the threat that it was on the 7th of February 2009 so we looked at building products that would limit the chance of our home burning down again. So we chose "Green Energy Bricks" which are a 600mm By 300mm by 300mm Brick made of magnesium oxide outer boards and high density compressed poly styrene (sort of). These bricks basically lock together like Lego Bricks and are rate fire proof to 3000 Celsius and have an energy efficiency rating of R8. These "Green Energy Bricks" are simple to install as there's a whole set out plan and associated materials that are supplied with the bricks. Anyone whose ever build a lego house can build with these bricks.

We also decided to use a "Waffle Pod" Slab which is much more energy efficient that a standard concrete slab and uses a lot less concrete to build it as well.

Because our block is always awash with run off water from a heap of underground streams and feeds directly into a spring fed dam, which we utilize as drinking water in times of drought, we didn't want to replace the septic system with another septic unit, so we chose a water treatment plant which costs pretty much the same as a septic, but allows us to store the grey water from the septic component of the system an automatically pump the grey water to the top of the block and waters the gardens without sewage contaminating the waterways and the dam.

Our windows and doors are all going to be double glazed PVC - PVC doesn't burn as easily as timber and has a better energy co-efficient than aluminum. We've heard from first hand the benefits double glazing made. A neighbor was fighting the fire outside his own home and the temperature was so bad he couldn't stay out for more than two minutes. He turned to look at his home and saw two of his kids with their faces pressed hard up against the glass watching what was going on.They were no more that 3-4 meters from the fire yet the felt no discernible heat through the double glazing. Pretty convincing I thought.

So we continue to build. It's been over two and a half years since the bush fires. We're living in a tin shed that's insulated and lined and is relatively comfortable if a bit claustrophobic at times. With luck we'll be in by Christmas THIS YEAR. In a home that already lists as being a 6 and a half star energy rating.

Sorry the tale is so long, but I could waffle on for hours. But I won't.

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Re: Rebuilding Energy Wise after The 2009 Gippsland Bushfires

Postby lad » Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:08 am

Congrats Vando,

not only rebuilding but facing the green demon down. I am Tasmanian and was confronted by the Frankiln dam debacle. We had extreme greenies and rentacrowds telling us Tasmanians what to do (many of them weren't Tasmanians). Extreme action can get your back up even if it is well placed and ultimately the right thing.

I now see myself as a moderate green, want to leave the planet in a better condition than when I arrived and want my kids to feel & do the same.

Now you will have your country lifestyle, the benefit of a house that is comfortable, performs well energy wise and gives you greater safety in the worst case scenario.

As a volunteer firefighter, I highly recommend that you consider joining your local brigade, get trained and be as well prepared as you can, oh and that will mean you can help your community and neighbors as a fringe benefit. :-)
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Re: Rebuilding Energy Wise after The 2009 Gippsland Bushfires

Postby Jon L » Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:37 pm

That sounds great. How did the costs stack up against building more conventional?
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Re: Rebuilding Energy Wise after The 2009 Gippsland Bushfires

Postby Cherokee Solar » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:51 pm

Hi Jon,

After the owner build here, I reckon the extra costs to comply with a mix of BAL-40 or Flamezone (BAL-FZ) products and systems worked out to be an extra 40% materials costs for the build. If you had a builder install them, then there would be extra labour as well (which I undertook). You would want to build a small house to keep costs down.

Just for an example, BAL-40 double glazed and toughened (5mm + 5mm) windows with external stainless steel shutters cost about $1,000 m2.

Still, the place is extremely resistant to changes of temperature in the outside world so it is very pleasant to live in.

If you have any questions about the AS3959-2009 standard, give me a yell.

Off grid solar + hot water. Heavily insulated + owner built flamezone house BAL-FZ. 300 mixed fruit trees + herbs + flowers + vegetables. Bees + heritage chickens. High up in the mountains north of Melbourne.
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