Abbett Haus WA – Designer Ben Caine

What’s a sustainable house?

According to Perth based architect Ben Caine from Leanhous, sustainability is a “very loose term that can be interpreted lots of different ways”. 

That’s why he can see loads of benefits in Sustainable House Day on 20 September this year being a virtual event with lots of online tours and virtual rooms to discuss various topics. It  will be a boon for visitors and throw up much more information than in previous years.

Call it an unexpected silver lining created by the Covid.

Thanks to the pandemic 150 houses will be open to the public online this year. But the upside is that visitors can register for a range of talks on everything from design, to building, renovating or retrofitting.

“Sustainability”, Caine says, “is very confusing for clients so to actually have access to a whole range of homes that meet certain criteria of sustainability, they can actually compare and contrast different service providers, different builders, different products in their actual use and in their actual setting. 

“For clients to be able to access more homes virtually and to have more transparency around sustainability options can only be better for clients and better for the industry.” 

The yearly event typically draws in many visitors from across the construction and building industry.

It allows potential clients and industry players to network to network and begin to seriously look into the benefits of living in environmentally conscious homes. 

“You get the full gamut. But in general, the idea is to educate and to expose as many people as possible to different and better ways of doing things,” Mr Caine said. 

Another benefit of being online is that technology now allowed more architects to be more descriptive of design decisions and materials used. 

“These days I’m also capturing quite a lot of video of the houses during construction with drones and with my personal video equipment. 

“So, there’s a lot more content that’s going to be available in the future with these events.”  

Another silver lining stemming from Covid was that people are more comfortable now with virtual meetings so that builders, designers, contractors and construction workers can hold web meetings and cut travel time. 

Ben Caine, Leanhaus

“All the builders I use, we meet regularly over Zoom. We do screen sharing.  So I’ll actually open up the 3D model of the building that I’m working on and we’ll be able to rotate through the space and discuss how we’re going to resolve a construction detail.” 

“It makes the whole process go a lot quicker.”

Moving forward, Caine says that using technology in this new way means that the barriers to getting collaboration early are lower and that can only be a better outcome for the client. 

“Anytime anything that encourages collaboration can only help with sustainability. The way I work is very closely with the builders right from the very early stage of design.

“I think that’s really critical, that smart decisions get made and to find the best use of materials and the best construction solutions.”

In addition to virtual tour of houses Sustainable Housing Day will this year will include more than 30 free virtual sessions offering advice and education.

Broken up across three virtual rooms, interested parties can register to various talks covering topics from design, building, renovating or retrofitting sustainable homes.

The national event will also see industry leaders and homeowners discussing best practices across a range of topics relating to sustainable house design.

Check out details here

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