Benalla Sustainable Future Group believes that sustainable housing design and building practice can play a very large part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and have less impact on the environment. Sustainable houses have greater energy efficiency and are more comfortable to live in because they have more stable internal temperatures thus requiring less heating and cooling resulting in lower energy usage. Lower energy usage means reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and lower energy bills. The same comments can be made about upgrading existing houses to make them more energy efficient.
BSFG is keen to encourage sustainable housing design and rating systems, retrofitting for energy efficiency, PV panels, solar hot water, and home energy issues. Interested members of BSFG have developed a Guide for Planning Sustainable Housing; joined with Benalla Rural City to conduct Sustainable Housing Forums in 2014, 2015 and 2016; participated in 'Sustainable House' Days and conducted workshops designed to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, make them more comfortable and reduce energy bills.
Sustainable Housing Forums
Well attended forums in 2014 and 2015 looked at Sustainable New Homes, Smart Renovations and Energy Saving Upgrades, with a focus on Granite Gardens' at Killawarra near Wangaratta in 2014. Presenters Lynn Beinat from Eco Master spoke on 'Retrofitting for Energy Efficiency and Thermal Comfort, Richard Morton from SunReal Renewable Energy systems on 'Solar Power and Battery Systems' and Callum Morrison, Environmental Health Coordinator, Benalla Rural City on 'Water Conservation'.
A forum held at the Mokoan Hub at Winton Wetlands in July 2016 provided the opportunity for an audience of 50 people to learn more about the long term benefits and savings that come from sustainable building. Ken Sibley Building Designer, NRG Systems spoke on ‘Sustainable, energy-efficient housing design and smart renovations’ followed by Lachlan Gales from Ovens and King Builders on ‘Practicalities of building and renovating for sustainable housing’. Download Ken Sibley's presentation
At a second forum in 2016, Ecomaster's Lynne Beinart considered retrofitting strategies from a whole home perspective. Topics covered: How to have a comfortable home all year round; Key principles behind why your home is too cold / too hot and has huge energy bills; Zero cost actions that will reduce your energy bill and increase your comfort; Underfloor insulation; How to get a professional job done for 1/3 of the price; Everything you need to know about retrofit wall insulation and how to get a great result!; Heating systems - the good, the bad, the ugly.
Sustainable House Day
A number of member's homes have featured on the Sustainable House day program over the years, with Howard Bartlett's 'Solar Skillion Sleep Out and Studio' featuring each year from 2016, including in the Covid Virtual event in 2020. Sustainable House Day is being held on Sunday 17th Ocober 2021.
Energy Efficiency Workshops
Halted by Covid in 2020, in 2018 and 2019 BSFG's Renewable Energy Action Group presented a series of free 2-hour workshops, 'Reduce Energy Bills and Increase Thermal Comfort', which focussed on improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings, making them more comfortable and reducing energy bills.
Workshop 1 Understanding energy bills and getting the best rate
Workshop 2 Draught Proofing & Insulation
Workshop 3 Lighting & Windows
Workshop 4 Efficient Hot Water Systems, Heating and Cooling
Workshop 5 Appliances & Cooking; Transitioning from Gas
Workshop 6 Energy Monitoring, Solar Power & Batteries
The REB action group has also produced case studies and pamphlets, including 'Keeping a rental house comfortable and energy efficient', distributed to local Real Estate firms for people in rental housing
Building or Renovating a Home for Energy Efficiency (Sustainability Victoria)
'An Energy Freedom Home is a Zero Emissions Home' (article) - 'The Energy Freedom Home' book is still published and can be ordered online.
Indigo Shire Better Build Toolkit - Home Renovation Guide (pdf); New Home Guide (pdf); Commercial & Community Guide
Passive House Australia
Your Home - Australia's Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes - (Federal government)
Renters Guide to Sustainable Living (download free copy)
Green Home Guide (Aust. Conservation Found'n)