Mirvac is piloting a living case study in developing affordable off-grid masterplanned residential communities, with construction due to commence early next year on a prototype “house with no bills”.
The developer will also be offering the home rent-free for 12 months to a two-parent, two-child working family and will carry out monitoring of the home’s energy performance and occupant energy-use behaviour over the year.
The house in Cheltenham will be a regular family home with a sustainability features including solar power generation and battery storage. Other planned inclusions are LED lighting, energy efficient appliances, solar passive design, increased roof insulation and smart metering and monitoring so occupants can see how energy is being used in real-time.
The aim is for the house to have no power bills at all, with no gas installed and excess solar power sold back to the grid to balance out any power drawn from the grid.
Mirvac’s head of residential, John Carfi, said the study of the home’s energy performance would also demonstrate how the home’s design and sustainable technology performs.
He said the study was essential in order to develop more affordable energy efficient homes, as current technologies were believed to be out of the reach of many families.
“By demonstrating what’s possible we hope to close the gap between interested customers and willingness to pay. Mirvac are aiming to move from an ‘opt in model to and opt out model’ whereby customers will need to ask to remove the free solar energy from their homes,” Mr Carfi said.
“Phase one in this initiative is to monitor and gather data on our trial family’s everyday energy consumption, which will shed light on how to best roll-out this home model on a wider scale.”
Phase two will look at opportunities for providing zero-cost water and sewerage in greenfield communities, and the learnings from phase one on energy will allow the company to identify the potential of going completely off-grid.
Green Building Council of Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said the study was an important step towards creating affordable, energy efficient communities across Australia, and had the potential to drive the adoption of sustainable building design and technologies that have been features of commercial buildings for some time.
“A project of this scale has yet to be attempted by a major developer with the potential to make it commercially viable and scalable,” she said.