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Green Smart Magazine : GreenSmart 2010
Photos courtesy Designology prefabhomes greensmart 2010 71 • Steel superstructure. • Colorbond corrugated iron cladding and iron shutters, a fire resistant roller shutter door. • Internal walls are non-load bearing and can be constructed using a variety of lightweight materials. (Kevin used compressed wheat straw panels which contain no chemical binding agents and leave no toxic waste, are fire- and mould- resistant, and have excellent thermal and acoustic properties.) • The house has been orientated north to maximise its exposure to the sun. • A solar conservatory over the entry acts as a 'solar collector' -- the heat can then be redistributed to other rooms using a low voltage heat transfer kit. • A roof ventilator expels warm stale air, using the stairwell as a thermal chimney, drawing in cooler air from lower level vents and the external door, and expelling it through the roof. • The power supply is generated by renewable sources, predominantly a stand-alone solar system. Kevin is looking into installing a bio-gas converter that will be fuelled by vegetable and waste matter generated in the kitchen. key features of the Convertible House withstand bushfire attack and protect occupants. The Victorian Building Commission has estimated that most new dwellings will remain unaffected. For example, of the building permits issued for new homes in Victoria in 2008, around 80 per cent would fall into the lowest category, requiring no special construction requirements, while just 10 per cent of all building permits would fall into the upper three BAL categories. Victorian company Designology had already designed and built a sustainable, cost- competitive, fire- and storm resistant dwelling -- the Convertible House -- before the fires hit. Designology director Kevin Starling says he had been passionate for some time about building an environmentally sustainable building that was also climate proof. He explains that the idea behind the Convertible House 'was about stripping a building back to its basics and starting again from the ground up -- of tackling issues in a more holistic manner'. Kevin, who is also an HIA GreenSmart professional and lives and works from the prototype, says that the aerodynamic design can be made suitable for nearly all locations in Australia, and in its present format is built to BAL40, the second highest rating. He is looking to build the next one, and has had interest from all over Australia and around the world since winning a high commendation for the design concept at the 2007 HIA GreenSmart awards. 'I have designed and priced a job for a flame zone (BAL-FZ) area. We are at a stage where it needs to be signed off by my building surveyor, but with what we've designed, we believe it will suitable for the worst case scenario.' Kevin explains that the crux of the building 'is in the superstructure itself '. The light-gauge, open-web arched steel superstructure has high strength-to-weight properties and is predominantly clad with Colorbond corrugated iron. Corrugated iron shutters and a fire resistant roller shutter door on the end wall make the building virtually seamless, preventing embers and debris entering the building. The roof windows and skylights to the utility areas can be supplied as fire rated and also fitted with stainless steel mesh screens internally, while the extra wide ridge capping prevents embers from entering the roof space. The house and decking substructure use steel joists and bearers, and the decking material is non-combustible compressed cement sheet. The half round guttering is underslung beneath floor level to eliminate build up of leaves and twigs, and can be filled with water for additional security. The subfloor area has space to accommodate water tanks, pumps, self-composting toilet bins and other equipment, and is steel-clad to ground level to prevent embers from entering. In the wet areas, compressed cement sheet flooring is also used, creating a safer, last resort subfloor refuge. 'The intention of the design is that the building can be shuttered down ahead of an extreme weather event and that the occupants evacuate. ' For more information on bushfire attack levels or building in a bushfire-prone area call the bushfire building advice line 1300 815 127 (9am to 5pm EST Monday to Friday). gs For more information: Designology www.designology.com.au. Modscape www.modscape.com.au. 'I HAVE DESIGNED AND PRICED A JOB FOR A FLAME ZONE (BAL-FZ) AREA'