Small Homes We Operate Like We're Sailing: Sanctuary Magazine

sanctuary 13 westwyck photo

Westwyck development from Sanctuary magazine. Photo: Emma Cross

Inside the 13th issue of Sanctuary Magazine you'll find design notes on passive cooling, which is harder to achieve than passive heating. And a companion article argues that whilst fixed eaves work well at the height of winter or summer, the transitional months of spring and autumn (fall) require more resident participation, "passive houses need active inhabitants." Such a building, with operable shading would offer energy rewards, whilst being simple and fun, "just like sailing!"

Yet another article discusses the life cycle assessment (LCA) of building materials and products, with mention of a third party LCA certification systems due for full release in 2011, known as GreenTag. Yet one of Australia's most experienced LCA researchers is quick to note that operational efficiencies during a home's life will have more impact than reducing the environmental impact of production. And most tellingly he observes "reduce the size of everything. Smaller buildings use less material, less energy for heating and have less room for furniture and fittings."

sanctuary 13 spring beach photo

Spring Beach ecoshacks. Photo: Maria Gigney Architects

In keeping with the small is green theme, there is are stories on eco beach houses trimmed to an enclosed space of about 75 square metres (about 800 sq ft), as well a green remodel that squeezed a laundry under a stairwell.

Aside from the usual eco-architecture eye candy, this latest copy of Sanctuary magazine now out, contains what the mag's editor calls "a new back-to-basic series, a kind of Sustainable Design for Dummies," like the sections we mentioned in the intro, as well as the introduction of a "Sanctuary Retrospective," looking back at where great green ideas might not have quite lived up to their full potential.

This reader also appreciates that home owners continue to be brave enough to provide the costs involved in their various renovations or new builds. A very useful reality check. Plus it's great to have details of the green building products used in each showcased home, whether it's an urban brick retrofit, or a glass and steel beach house.

Hits and Misses
Sanctuary revisits the Westwyck development to see how things have panned out after three years. They learn that where the gas boosted solar hot water systems are 30% more efficient than instantaneous gas hot water, the blackwater and greywater systems have not been as impressive, and required a redesign. And although a a well proven feature of rainwater harvesting their 'first flush' diverters and likewise not been satisfactory, the communal living aspects of the development have been an unexpected success. (A first flush system channel a roof's initial gush of rainwater -- in this instance the first 50 litres into garden swales -- instead of the rainwater tank. In doing so bird poo, dirt and dust from the roof is kept out of the rainwater supply). Now there's waiting list for space in the eventual 25 apartments and 5 townhouses that are being created within the buildings and grounds of an old primary school.

sanctuary 13 raingardens photo

Photo: Melbourne Water
And speaking as we were of rain water and gardens, the magazine also highlights Raingardens as one way of residences managing their excess rain and storm water. Indeed the water utility in the Australian city of Melbourne is campaigning for 10,000 raingardens by 2013.

Sanctuary is a print magazine only. But their website has selected articles from back issues for reading online. The Westwyck story can be be found on Scribd, as can other back issue pieces.

More Sanctuary Magazine
The House that One Man Can Lift. Sanctuary Magazine Showcases This and More.
All Together Now: Green Modern Cooperative Living in Australia
Andrew Maynard on Sustainable Design and Teen Sex
Urban Sustainable Design by Jim Gall
Beautiful Economy: Bynya House by Andrew Coomer

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