family in front of house
The Zimmerman family lived in Mirvac's house with no bills for the past year

For the past year, a “typical” Australian family has been living in a prototype home by Mirvac designed for zero bills. The House With No Bills in Cheltenham, Melbourne, fell short of the no bills goal, but did achieve a significant 75 per cent saving on all energy costs.

The year in the home cost the Zimmerman family around $2000 less than it would have cost a typical household of four in a comparable site.

The home was fitted out with increased insulation, glazing performance, efficient lighting and appliances, no natural gas, solar PV and batteries and smart technology. It operated on positive energy for five out of 12 months and used only 8 per cent more energy than generated by the home itself.

Researchers from Curtin University confirmed that it would be possible to completely eliminate the $715 spent on energy bills through minor design and behavioural changes, such as turning off the TV and games consoles after use.

The experiment is now complete with the home recently selling for $1,005,000 at an auction.

Kathmandu on solar

Adventure goods retailer Kathmandu has opened a solar and battery powered store in Blackburn, 16 kilometres east of Melbourne’s CBD.

The solar system will provide 100 per cent of the store’s 92,000 kilowatt-hours energy needs, offsetting over 124 tonnes of CO2 emissions. It will also serve as a backup in the event of a power outage.

The store was chosen because it’s a large standalone site. The company will investigate similar sites to install onsite solar.

Central precinct (and Atlassian’s new home) in Sydney hits the NIMBY frontline

Last week, the SMH reported concerns that some of towers planned at the for the massive Central precinct redevelopment in Sydney would dwarf the surrounding buildings, including the Central Station clock (75 metres) and the UTS tower (120 metres).

The issues were raised by conservation organisation National Trust in a submission to the Department of Planning. The organisation considers the allowable heights, which are part of new planning controls allowing taller towers in the CBD, “totally out of context with the surrounding area”.

The towers in question include new Atlassian headquarters, which will be up to 180 metres.

The Heritage Council is also arguing for reduced building heights on the grounds of “adverse visual impacts”.

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  1. Keep up the good work on building construction and helping to lower building height levels in Sydney. Our heritage trust needs to be heard. Cities are a big village not an eyesore removing our harbour views from many of our existing buildings.