Amelia’s email quietly dropped into my inbox without any fuss. However, reading the contents made my day. The 2021 Sustainability Awards shortlisted our house.
But that’s not all. The home was a finalist in two categories.
Creating an awards submission
Back in June, Amelia, our builder David’s partner, had a thought. Why not enter our home into the annual Sustainability Awards? Everyone involved in the project right from the beginning knew we had completed something special. Amelia thought the rest of the world should hear about the achievement.
As it says on their website, “the Sustainability Awards is Australia’s longest-running and most prestigious awards program.” They are “dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating excellence in sustainable design and architecture.”
Could the sustainable building industry representatives on the judging panel consider our build to be something special?
These people would be a tough audience. “They’re leaders in their respective fields. … they know what sustainable buildings look like. They are world-class industry experts and world-class judges … ensure that only the country’s most pioneering green projects have made the final cut.”
Would our project rate a second look given what the judges were seeking? Only one way to find out.
During a busy couple of weeks, Amelia coordinated writing an award submission. I provided background about our input to the design brief. Next, I threw in monitoring data showing how well a high performance house actually works. David supplied the background required to understand construction decisions and methods.
We fine-tuned and polished the information package. The words had to convey the team’s passion for sustainable building. Then Amelia pressed the send button.
Positive reception to awards submission
The email announcing the projects shortlisted for the Sustainability Awards highlighted the entrants’ quality.
“With the record breaking number of entries including some of the most innovative submissions in the program’s history, we are proud to present this year’s … shortlist.”
“Follow the link … to uncover the outstanding projects, ideas and people in this year’s selection.”
Our project appearing on the shortlist is the good news. The great news was being finalists in two categories, as well as David being a finalist in a third category.
Single dwelling (new) finalist
We prepared our submission with this category in mind. There is a terrific story to tell about the design and construction of a single residential building.
Sustainability is embedded in the passive solar design and dwelling construction process. Highlights included dismantling the original home to reclaim useful materials, powering the site with an off-grid solar power system and using alternative materials such as Timbercrete.
Temperature and energy monitoring for the all-electric home then confirmed it performed exactly as intended. The house is comfortable year round with a tiny energy bill.
Smart building ideas finalist
Initially Amelia and I didn’t think our project fitted this category.
To qualify, the award organisers were looking for “a building that uses smart design or a range of automated processes to automatically control the building’s operations in order to help improve asset reliability, performance, and energy use.” However, after reviewing our single dwelling submission, the organisers suggested we did fit the category given the emphasis on smart design.
Passive solar design is a smart way to work with nature to get the best out of a house. Winter sunlight heats the house. In Summer, eaves block the direct sunlight during the day. Natural air circulation vents warm air at night. Excellent insulation and indoor thermal mass moderate indoor temperature fluctuations. If necessary, a super efficient air conditioner (heat pump) provides mechanical heating/cooling. Electricity is usually supplied by the solar panels + battery.
Hot water is another significant energy user in most homes, however, a heat pump running on solar power supplies ours.
From that perspective, it’s smart to have a design that doesn’t rely on technology to perform well and use minimal energy.
On that basis, Amelia pressed the send button on another submission that ended up on the finalist shortlist.
Emerging architect/designer finalist
After reading about David’s commitment to sustainable building practices, the organisers suggested a third submission.
“This Award is for architects / designers either in their first five years of their career or have influenced and changed the world of design by their drive for the environment over the past 12 months.”
Amelia pointed out that David is a bit past five years in his career, but he is a good fit for the second half of the criteria.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Amelia managed to grab a bit of David’s limited spare time to prepare one more submission.
The third submission joined the finalist shortlist.
Now we wait for the awards ceremony
Three submissions and shortlisted in all three categories. That’s an awesome response!
Obviously the judging panel saw something special.
The awards ceremony is the night of November 11. Libby and I have tickets to the virtual event. Rest assured, our eyes are going to be glued to the computer screen as the winners are announced.
Just getting to this point is a memorable highlight. It’s an honour being shortlisted for such a well-known and respected award. Going one better and winning an award would be the icing on our Green Home Build Adventure cake.