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Green Smart Magazine : GreenSmart 2010
a choice of low VOC (volatile organic compound) and low formaldehyde products, paints, adhesives and sealants; bathroom fittings that come with high energy-efficient and water conser vation ratings; and orientating each design to maximise natural ventilation in summer and passive solar heat in winter. Prefabricated homes are now of comparable quality to traditional site-built homes. And just like all houses, they are designed and built to meet industry standards building codes and regulations. This has been an important factor since the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009 that destroyed more than 2000 houses. The new bushfire regulations adopt AS 3959- 2009 which now applies to almost all types of residential new buildings and rebuilding work including alterations and additions, in designated bushfire-prone areas. The new standard adopts six levels of site assessment, rather than the previous four. The site assessment determines the likely levels of attack from bushfire and is called the site's bushfire attack level (BAL). The BAL takes into consideration a number of factors including the fire danger index, slope of land, types of surrounding vegetation and its proximity to any building. The standard then stipulates the appropriate construction methods for each BAL to improve the ability of a building to from sustainable plantations for example -- and tend to be smaller in size, meaning less material is used overall. The term 'lightweight' is used to differentiate it from 'high mass' construction such as solid masonry. Lightweight construction generally has lower embodied energy, that is, energy consumed by all the processes and materials associated with the production of a building, from extracting the natural resource to manufacture, transport and construction. One company specialising in delivering environmentally sustainable, prefabricated houses is Victorian company modscape. 'In developing the modular homes, we have ensured that every aspect of the design and construction process is sustainable,' says Jan Gyrn, director of modscape and an HIA GreenSmart professional. 'This includes everything from the resources used, right through to the design of the homes. 'Recycled steel, sustainable plantation timbers, energy-efficient lighting, double- skin insulation and solar heating are just a sample of the environmentally friendly features of a modscape home,' Jan says. The on-site environmental impact of a modscape home is also minimised by using a footing system which utilises 'screw piles', reducing the need for cutting and filling the site. Modscape homes are fully customised to accommodate any design requirement. Several modules can be combined -- placed end to end, side by side or stacked -- to increase floor space. They are trucked, fully finished, to the site and installed in a day. From issuing a building permit to delivery can take as little as 12 weeks. Examples of the sustainable products and design elements of modscape's homes include NEW BUILDING REGULATIONS ADOPT [STANDARDS] WHICH NOW APPLIES TO ALMOST ALL TYPES OF RESIDENTIAL NEW BUILDINGS AND REBUILDING WORK > After the Black Saturday bushfires the Victorian government launched a joint initiative between the Australian Institute of Architects (Victoria) and the Office of the Victorian Government Architect to provide victims access to 19 house blueprints designed to comply with the new bushfire building codes and embodying sustainable principles, and a consultation with an architect. The floorplans offered houses between two and four bedrooms in a variety of materials and construction types. Donovan Hill's DHAN range for Happy Haus was one of the designs selected. It is designed as a low cost and sustainable 'readymade' housing solution -- fully adaptable, transportable and climatically sensitive. The range starts from $100,000 (plus GST, delivery and installation) and offers three different floorplans of varying configurations which include a kitchen, laundry, bathroom and living/dining space. Further one-, two- and three- bedroom pods start from $47,000 (plus GST, delivery and installation). Off-white interiors with timber window and door frames allow the owners to personalise the interiors, and a timber pelmet incorporates general room lighting as well provision for art and curtain hanging. Plywood exteriors are offered with a colour choice to suit individual settings, while distinctive roofs and coloured ventilation flaps add character. For more information visit www.happyhaus.com.au/donovan-hill.html. a happy haus for the bushfire affected Photos courtesy Happy Haus greensmart 2010 69