Smart Buildings

Barossa Wind Farm, Why not Bellarine?

Pacific Hydro gets approval for $240m Barossa Valley wind farm

Pacific Hydro has received approval for a 42-turbine, $240 million wind farm close to Keyneton, near the Barossa Valley. The wind farm, with an expected capacity of 100MW, will be located in the Mid Murray Council area about two hours drive from Adelaide.
“This is a very good wind energy project for South Australia that meets all planning guidelines and we are very pleased that it has received approval,” said Hydro Pacific General Manager Australia, Mr Lane Crockett.
“This approval confirms yet again that South Australia is a global clean energy leader and is living proof that the transition to a clean energy future is not only possible but highly desirable.”
While the permit is an important milestone for the Keyneton Wind Farm, the company acknowledges that there is still much work to be done before any construction can begin, around 2015, including extensive consultation with the local community and a detailed feasibility analysis.
He said any decision to go ahead with the project would be directly affected by the outcome of the scheduled review of the Renewable Energy Target in 2014.
“We especially acknowledge that some members of the local community are anxious about the potential impact that this wind farm may have on them. We recognise that it is our responsibility to create a collaborative way forward to work with the local community to understand and try and resolve their concerns.”
Planning Minister Mineral Resources Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the development had been approved subject to 26 conditions covering both the construction and operation of the wind farm and its associated infrastructure.
Although the decision will benefit the local South Australian community, only 40 per cent the capital investment will come to the state, with the remainder going overseas due to limited manufacturing capability in Australia, a company spokesperson said.
By Emma Fitzpatrick on 9 December 2013
Article from:


Earthships are 100% sustainable homes that are both cheap to build and awesome to live in.
They offer amenities like no other sustainable building style you have come across.
For the reasons that follow, I believe Earthships can actually change the world. See for yourself!



When people hear about sustainable, off-the-grid living, they usually picture primitive homes divorced from the comforts of the 21st century. And rightfully so, as most sustainable solutions proposed until now have fit that description. Earthships, however, offer all of the comforts of modern homes and more. I’ll let these pictures do the talking…
earthship2 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome
 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome
 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome
 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome
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 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome
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Each Earthship is outfitted with one or two greenhouses that grow crops year-round, no matter the climate. This means you can feed yourself with only the plants growing inside of your house. You can also choose to build a fish pond and/or chicken coop into your Earthship for a constant source of meat and eggs.
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Even the most arid of climates can provide enough water for daily use through only a rain-harvesting system. The entire roof of the Earthship funnels rain water to a cistern, which then pumps it to sinks and showers when required. That used ‘grey water’ is then pumped into the greenhouse to water the plants. After being cleaned by the plants, the water is pumped up into the bathrooms for use in the toilets. After being flushed, the now ‘black water’ is pumped to the exterior garden to give nutrients to non-edible plants.
earthship2 625x377 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome


The most brilliant piece of engineering in the Earthship is their ability to sustain comfortable temperatures year round. Even in freezing cold or blistering hot climates, Earthships constantly hover around 70° Fahrenheight (22° Celsius).
This phenomenon results from the solar heat being absorbed and stored by ‘thermal mass’ — or tires filled with dirt, which make up the structure of the Earthship. The thermal mass acts as a heat sink, releasing or absorbing heat it when the interior cools and heats up, respectively.
The large greenhouse windows at the front of the house always face south to allow the sun to heat up the thermal mass throughout the daytime.
 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome


Solar panels on the roof and optional wind turbines provide the Earthship with all of the power it needs. As long as you’re not greedily chewing through electricity like a typical first-world human, you’ll never be short of power.
 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome


With all of your basic needs provided for and NO bills each month, you’re free! You don’t have to work a job you hate just to survive. So you can focus your time on doing what you love, and bettering the world around you.
Imagine if the entire world was able to focus on doing extraordinary things instead of just making enough to get by. Imagine if even 10% of the world could do this. What would change?


At a recent Earthship conference in Toronto, Canada, a married couple in their forties shared about how they built a 3-story Earthship by themselves in 3 months. They had never built anything before in their lives and were able to build an Earthship with only the printed plans. They did not hire any help, nor did they use expensive equipment to make the job easier.
If one man and one woman can do this in 3 months, anyone can do it.


Earthships are exorbitantly cheaper than conventional houses. The most basic Earthships cost as little as $7000 (The Simple Survival model) with the most glamorous models costing $70,000 and up, depending on how flashy you want to be with your decorating.
With these cost options, Earthships can fit the needs of everyone — from the least privileged to the most worldly.


Much of the materials used to build Earthships are recycled. For starters, the structure is built with used tires filled with dirt:
Earthship tyre walls1 625x416 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome
 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing AwesomeIf there’s one thing we’re not short of on Earth, it’s used tires! There are tire dumps like the one pictured here in every country in the world. There are even places that will pay you by the tire to take them away.
The walls (above the tires) are created by placing plastic and glass bottles in concrete. When the Earthship team was in Haiti after the earthquake, they employed local kids to both clean up the streets and provide all of the bottles required for building their Earthship. Plus, they look pretty sexy.
 10 Reasons Why EarthShips Are F!#%ing Awesome


The most powerful thing Earthships do is force people to think differently about how we live. If housing can be this awesome, and be beneficial to the environment, then what else can we change? What else can become more simple, cheaper and better at the same time?
It’s time for us to re-think much of what we consider normal.

Green Star – Communities: A MUST READ game changer

WED 13 JUN 2012 Romilly Madew, Chief Executive / Green Building Council of Australia

Extracted from:

For many years, a Green Star rating has been a symbol of environmental sustainability.  From towering skyscrapers to low-rise schools, Green Star has driven a market shift towards integrated, holistic design and construction.
However, buildings are just one part of the sustainability equation.

Broader sustainability issues around our communities and cities are just as significant, such as the design of our public spaces, the affordability of housing, engagement processes with our stakeholders, climate adaptation and community resilience.
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has long recognised that improving the sustainability of our communities is Australia’s next great challenge.

And tomorrow, after two-and-a-half years of hard work and extensive collaboration, we will release our response to this challenge: Green Star – Communities,  one of the world’s first independent, transparent, national schemes able to assess and certify the sustainability of community-level development projects.

At Green Cities 2009 I led a discussion on how we could evolve from greening our buildings to greening entire communities. The feedback from industry was definitive: a rating tool to help transform and better plan our communities was the answer. This rating tool, industry said, should encompass the full spectrum of sustainability issues – economic, social and environmental.
Our first step was to establish a national framework for sustainable communities. By 2010, the framework outlined five national best practice principles to guide sustainable communities in Australia. These have since expanded to six categories: Liveability; Economic Prosperity; Environment; Design; Governance; and Innovation.
Once those principles were clearly articulated, the GBCA pulled together 135 talented people from across the industry – from academia, social and town planning, project, development and facilities management, economics, policy, built form and urban design, scientific and environmental engineering, and all three tiers of government – to work on the project. Thirty eight sponsors, including every state and territory government land organisation threw their weight behind the development of the rating tool. 
We believe tomorrow marks the beginning of a new voluntary national standard for our industry. The Green Star – Communities rating tool will provide federal government with a vehicle for delivering and measuring policy outcomes, state governments with guidance for planning, approval and benchmarking of significant projects, and local governments with a framework for greater sustainable development outcomes and collaboration with industry. 
The tool will also facilitate more efficient development processes and ultimately help developers get their products out to market quicker. Financiers will gain a framework for sustainable investment. And consumers will have the ability to make informed decisions about their lifestyles.
This next phase of the tool’s evolution is no less important than the development phase, and from tomorrow, Thursday 14 June, we are seeking expressions of interest from potential PILOT projects. The PILOT process will enable us to test the tool’s draft benchmarks and analyse feedback, which will then be incorporated into Version 1 of the tool. 
Fact sheets, a business case and a Green Star – Communities PILOT Submission Guideline and Scorecard can be downloaded from our website:
We will also be supporting the application of Green Star – Communities with new education and skills development opportunities, as well as an accreditation for practitioners who specialise in green communities.
With some of Australia’s largest greenfield and urban infill projects lining up to pilot the rating tool, Green Star – Communities is set to be a ‘game changer’

In architecture, is 3D printing the new normal?

By C.C. Sullivan | May 17, 2012, 3:45 AM PDT

Another inspirational article from Smart Planet -

  • A model made with 3D printing by Jerde Partnership, courtesy 3D Systems

    When it comes to computing, the buzz at this year’s AIA convention is all about three-dimensional process: 3D CAD, building information modeling (BIM), and — more than ever before — 3D printing.

    The big question architects, do firms need 3D printing to succeed? Is it indispensable, like mylar drafting film was back in the day?

    The downside is still cost. Even the consumer-targeted Cube from 3D Systems runs $1,299 to get started, and it makes dinky 5.5-inch-square solids. For five material cartridges, add $219 — and you’ll be going back to the proverbial inkwell often.

    The price of pro printing

    Professional 3D printers are far more costly, but they have the high resolution and detail that architects need to make a convincing building model — and the hardness that allows for normal handling, assembly and transport. The baseline model ProJet 1500 builds models up to 9 inches at about a half-inch an hour, and it’s a $15,000 investment with plenty of maintenance and material costs.

    3D printing is thinner and faster — but still costly. A model by Rietveld Architects using an Objet printer.

    With the American Institute of Architects’ national firm billings index flirting with negative territory, very few architects are looking to drop tens of thousands on 3D printing. While business remains anemic, an old-fashioned chipboard models will do just fine, thanks.

    For now, that is.

    Plus some early adopters feel like guinea pigs. Surprisingly, 3D printing still isn’t all that well integrated with 3D programs likeArchiCAD and Revit.

    “Now that we have our design drawn in a software package that can handle 2D and 3D representation, wouldn’t it be great if we could hit ‘3D print” and have our design 3D printed to scale?” asks New York based architectural designer and 3D expert Piet Meijs with Rietveld Architects, which uses a 3D printer from Objet.  ”That would be great, but unfortunately the technology isn’t there yet.”

    Even small firms can use this: the ZPrinter 850 from 3D Systems.

    Throw it to the printer

    Firms are finding limitations on the exporting of stereolithography (STL) files from common BIM and CAD platforms. Some are using alternative routes, says one architectural IT leader, like exporting to 3D DWG and make the STL out of solids engines like Autodesk’s 3ds Max, instead of Revit.

    Most important, making a great model to show the client takes more than mere printing.

    One experienced architect says that firms have to estimate the time required for all the related tasks that come with 3D printing: “How much setup time, prep time, preprinting time, and postprinting time depends on how nice of a model you want.” That little massing model is no problem — but if you need a high-quality presentation model to wow the crowds, you need training on an STL editing program as well as all the fine assembly techniques after the machine stops humming: “gap-filling, element resizing, slicing and pinning the model as required to assemble it after the fact,” he explains, plus the cavity cleanout and other tasks after printing.

    But the Cube Hero is just for fooling around at home.

    Another issue is what you can’t print. Thin ceilings, fine mullions and other delicate shapes may break due to the weight of the printing powder itself. In many cases, the rendered model can’t print small detail shapes that really make the building design sing. Objet boasts a very fine line, with machines that can print super-slender walls 0.6mm thick and even thinner still.

    The true believers

    Still, here we are in Washington, D.C., at the AIA convention and the Expo2012 show floor has nice, shiny machines that architects are drooling over.

    Hand models — the quaint old days of 3D printing. Courtesy 3D Systems

    The most likely winner is 3D Systems Corp.’s ZPrinter 850, endorsed by architects like Wesley Wright at Pelli Clarke Pelli and other firms using them in schematic design, design development and even project delivery.

    It’s almost accessible — just a few thousand deposition layers away.

    We’ve even heard about the future of printing actual hardware and otjer building elements — and entire houses, as revealed by my colleague Sun Joo Kim’s article on a 3D-printed house in Denmark.

    OK, that’s just a dream. But will we all wake up one day soon to see a big 3D printer in the corner of your modeling shop?

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  • Solving the next energy crisis, a million houses at a time !!!!!

    By C.C. Sullivan| April 5, 2012.Did you know that U.S. energy security is as easy as weatherstripping your house?  And the same practice applies to The Bellarine !!!!!!
    Our houses last about a hundred years. Taos Pueblo has lasted a bit longer. (Webecoist)
    It’s time to update how we think about national energy issues. And better architecture is the key.
    I learned so this week at the BEST3 conference, a tidy affair that draws a few hundred architects interested in better building walls and roofs. Held in Atlanta, the conference also brought attendees — including yours truly — to the fabulous High Museum for roast pork, beers and a peek at Picasso.

    The BEST3 Conference on building enclosures, held in Atlanta this week.
    Sitting in Richard Meier’s serene lecture hall, we heard remarkable insights from keynoter R. Christopher Mathis, an Asheville, North Carolina-based consultant on building performance.
    Architects make power plants disappear
    With the zeal and conviction of a revival camp preacher, Mathis proves a few audacious claims, including this one: “A 30% improvement in U.S. building efficiency would reduce energy bills by $75 billion in 15 years and eliminate the need for 80 new nuclear power plants over the next 20 years.”
    Eighty power plants? Yes. “And 30% is easy,” he adds.

    Chris Mathis can solve the next energy crisis — and create jobs in the process. Photo from BEST3 by Adam Sullivan
    Our appetite for electricity is huge, and it’s not getting any smaller. About 68% of the generating capacity is coal and natural gas, and Mathis describes the 7,000-feet-long trains, filled with nothing but Wyoming coal, that take three days to arrive at a power plant in the Southeast. The mile-and-a-half of coal cars are all tipped and unloaded in about an hour, and all the coal is burned — in just eight hours.
    Nationally, about half of all our electricity is gobbled up by buildings and houses. That’s twice as much as industry, and almost twice as much as the transportation sector.
    New windows = 300 coal power plants!
    Mathis has a few solutions up his sleeve, and the implications are astounding.
    It’s pure math. For example, we’ve got about 120 million homes with about a billion old windows, most of which are old single-pane and double-pane versions that don’t even meet today’s minimum codes.
    “And window solar gain is the single largest contributor to home cooling loads,” says Mathis. In 1973, less than half of our new homes had air-conditioning; today an astounding 91% of new dwellings have AC. Mainly thanks to the “crappy windows” we use.

    More of this? … (courtesy EIA)
    The solution?
    Replacing windows only in existing homes — not with the best windows, but the minimum code-compliant products — would cut AC by at least a ton, saving a total of at least 60 million kilowatts. That’s the equivalent of about 300 coal-fired power plants. The ones that use a mile-and-a-half long train delivery of dirty coal, three times a day.

    … or more of this? (Courtesy Superior Remodeling, New Prague, Minn.)
    Mathis has many more ideas like this, all of which save energy for as long as our houses stand — “about a hundred years” is his mantra — while creating jobs and goosing the economy. He emphasizes that existing houses and buildings should be the biggest focus. “They are 99% of our problem,” he says. “The big gorilla in the corner.”
    Millions of little power plants?
    In Mathis’s home state of North Carolina, a utility proposed a new, $17 billion nuclear power plant. Mathis showed up at the public hearings and showed how $5,000 worth of energy-efficiency upgrades to each of the state’s 4 million homes would save twice as much power as the new nukes would generate.
    “Our existing homes and commercial buildings are essentially millions of little ‘power plants’ we have already built but we haven’t turned on,” Mathis quips.
    But the nukes plant would employ about 500 people, argue its backers. Mathis says, so what? North Carolina would create hundreds of thousands of jobs installing insulation, air sealing, replacing windows, sealing leaky ducts, and the like.
    Energy angels in Atlanta
    Mathis is an important national resource, and North Carolinians are lucky to have him.
    Here’s a quick shout-out to some of the other backers and organizers of BEST3: The event is organized by NIBS and the Building Enclosure Councils, an offshoot of the AIA, but it’s really the result individual champions like Wagdy Anis, FAIA, and David Altenhofen, AIA, as well as the folks who organized the BEST 3 program.
    The sponsors this year for the biennial meeting included a gaggle of companies that would benefit handsomely if Mathis’s vision of a more energy-efficient future were to come to fruition. Among the backers were Sto Corp. (a client of mine) as well as Soprema, Inc., Georgia-Pacific Gypsum, VaproShield Inc., DuPont / TYVEK and Atlas Roofing Corporation, among others.
    Think about it: Would you rather have nice new windows with keep your house comfy, or a nice new power plant you can look at out of your crappy old windows