After the hot weather and other project priorities conspiring against us, it was a pleasure to finally start on landscaping the front garden of Unit 1. There are three main elements to the garden - crazy paving slate steps, a found object sculpture within a ring of railway sleepers and an indigenous bushland theme.
The day we switched on the solar power system was the culmination of a long design and installation process. Clever solar panels maximise electricity production while the inverter/battery keeps the lights on at night. The aim is to minimise importing grid electricity but export as much solar power as we can.
While discussing sustainable home design with others, I realised the word "passive" mu;st be used carefully. Passive solar design is different to Passive House design. It's important to understand the differences and similarities.
While the indoor temperature felt comfortable during hot summer days, I was left with the nagging feeling that wishful thinking was keeping me cool. Passive solar design should minimise the need for mechanical cooling for everything but a run of very hot days. Temperature monitoring data confirmed this is the case for our design.
As soon as the team finished Unit 1 in late 2018, work started on the site for Unit 2. A lot of time and effort went into the groundwork for a stiffened raft slab. During one busy day, the concrete was poured and the slab finished.
During Unit 1 construction, the team showed that an offgrid power system could meet the electrical requirements for all but the most demanding users. Based on that experience, the system was reassembled to power Unit 2 and 3 construction.
Insulating the concrete slab edge reduces the heat lost from the thermal mass during winter. There are a variety of ways to install the insulation along with the termite barrier. After considering the likely cost/benefit, our design uses a garden bed to cover exposed concrete edges.