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Green Smart Magazine : GreenSmart 2010
greensmart 2010 45 and reduce waste and the costs associated with landfill disposals,' James says. The building process yielded strong sustainable results too, thanks to an innovative method unique to Canberra at the time. James explains: 'At the time my home was constructed, The Village Building Co. was the only Canberra developer to use polystyrene waffle pods in the construction of every home it built.' Essentially, the waffle pods comprise giant pieces of Styrofoam placed into the same shape as the slabs, upon which the concrete is added. 'The pods reduce the amount of concrete used in the construction process, and increase its insulation properties. Of course, it's not the only form of insulation we utilise, but it all helps to achieve the five- or six-star rating now required for new housing,' James says. Water savings also play a part in the sustainability of the project. Each property contains a 2000-litre water tank that runs to all external taps, the washing machine and toilets. In addition, the VBC provides xeriscape landscaping for the front yards of all homes, where native and drought-tolerant plants are used to offer low-maintenance gardens requiring less water. 'It's a fairly significant cost saving,' James says. He also points to his own cheaper electricity bills, which average about $130 a quarter. Part of this is due to the solar hot water system mounted on the roof, which reduces the amount of energy required to heat the water. 'A lot of people assume that affordable housing covers just the cost of the house, but they need to consider the rest, that is the cost efficiency of running a household. As an owner, I have definitely noticed the difference,' James says. As a result of the numerous sustainable features the house scores a six-star energy rating, offering residents in the estate a comfortable and highly efficient living environment. 'The key to successfully maintaining the house's "affordability" is through careful and thorough planning, good design and the realisation of economies of scale,' James says. The point of difference with the Brindabella estate at Macgregor is that economies of scale are not usually achievable in development projects such as this. These are usually the preserve of bigger, multi- storey apartment complexes. But the VBC has achieved success here from using large scale pre-sales and bulk building materials, at the same time as constructing both attractive and energy- efficient houses. And while James acknowledges that The Village Building Co. is well known for providing affordable houses, it has not been awarded for its commitment to sustainable building -- until now. 'We put a lot of effort into providing environmentally sustainable dwellings, and it's great to be recognised. It's our first national award and it's a big thing for us,' James says. gs smarthomes At its site in Macgregor, the VBC also employed comprehensive waste management. The system was incorporated at the commencement of the construction process to minimise waste and reduce costs. Building waste was separated into timber, concrete and masonry, plastics, paper and cardboard and Gyprock. All timber products were sent through an on-site wood chipper, and then distributed around houses as mulch for front gardens and around the estate's several playgrounds and public landscaped areas. The concrete and masonry waste was crushed and used as base course for driveways and footpaths. All other separated waste such as paper, plastics, metals and glass was transported off site for recycling via established depots. mulch spread THE HOUSE SCORES A SIX-STAR ENERGY RATING TO OFFER RESIDENTS IN THE ESTATE A COMFORTABLE AND HIGHLY EFFICIENT LIVING ENVIRONMENT