A house on display in Melbourne, Australia, this month is an inspiring demonstration of a more sustainable approach to living. Touching down in Melbourne Square, the unit is touted as the world’s first carbon-positive prefab home. The prefabricated approach already results in a more energy- and resource-efficient building process, and local builders Archiblox have long been working with passive solar and sustainable design principles. Recently the company upped its game with Archi+ Carbon Positive Houses, a new addition to its catalogue that not only creates enough energy on site to sustain itself, but makes an excess of it.
The company employed common sustainable strategies – an FSC-certified wood structure insulated with R6 earthwool batts, a solar PV power system with incorporated energy monitoring, and a green roof. The roof swoops down along the side to form an earth berm wall, while inside sliding plant walls in the sunroom block the sun’s rays and grow herbs and food in the summer. In winter the same walls close, tightening the envelope and acting as a thermal mass that draws heat from the sun. Cooling is the larger concern in Australia; and the Archi+ features an A/C system that utilizes underground tubes to lower indoor temperatures. Operable double-glazed windows and external shading devices further help regulate the climate indoors.
The home’s physical footprint is also efficient; it packs a bedroom, bath, living room, kitchen, laundry nook, modular storage and a sunroom into an airtight envelope as small as 53 square metres. All the materials used in the construction or as finishes were sustainably sourced and contain no VOCs or formaldehyde, which has translated to a Platinum star rating on Life Cycle Assessment; the home’s reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are equivalent to the removal of 267 cars from the road or the planting of 6,095 trees. With the prefab format allowing Australians to order up these energy savings and environmental benefits like a pizza, Down Under might just be the place to watch for what’s coming up.