"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity" - Dorothy Parker
Sustainable House Day is a shore thing
Cape Paterson is a sleepy village on the breathtakingly beautiful South Gippsland coast, nestled midway between Phillip Island and Wilsons Promontory. Seaward Drive, a straight, two-kilometre road, constitutes Cape Paterson's northern boundary. Modest seaside homes line one side of the largely unsealed road, overlooking lush pastureland opposite. Two thirds of the way down the road, the houses stop abruptly and a large sign by a public footpath welcomes you to the site of The Cape, Victoria's largest and most ambitious eco-estate.
The Cape, formerly known as Cape Paterson Ecovillage, has been a residential housing project in the making since 2005. It is the brainchild of Brendon Condon, its project director, whose passion for the principles of sustainable living drove him to put together a plan for a community with economically and ecologically-beneficial credentials.
It's one thing to build an environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient home, but something else entirely to develop an entire eco-community. The 220-site eco-estate almost stalled due to local opposition from people worried about its size and impact on the existing village. The development eventually received approval from the State government in 2011, but got off to a slow start, with the first home - the estate's display centre - not being completed until four years later.
The 2015 display home is a four-bedroom, two-bathroom, double-storey residence with an 8.2 Star rating. The home features 5 kilowatts of solar energy; insulation; materials with high thermal mass; double-glazing; strategic shading; electric vehicle charge points; clean energy for heating, cooling, cooking and lighting; 10,000 litres of rainwater storage; raised water efficient food gardens; and energy-efficient white goods and is designed to operate without the use of fossil fuels.
Three years after the construction of the display home, there are signs that the project's marketing efforts are succeeding. With a number of new (private and display) houses completed and many more in various stages of construction, it is now possible to envisage the community's evolution. Later this month, five of the architecturally-designed, completed homes will be opening their doors to the public for a day, giving interested visitors a better understanding of all the possibilities afforded by green technology.
Sustainable House Day, organised by the Alternative Technology Association, is an annual event, established 17 years ago with the aim of informing people about ways to create sustainable homes and communities. Some of the country's most sustainable homes are available for viewing, with homeowners, builders and designers on hand to explain the money-saving, planet-preserving features incorporated into their house designs.
The Cape's Stage Two is being officially launched on Sustainable House Day
Sustainable House Day at The Cape is promised to be "jam-packed with activities to suit the entire family". These will include free electric bike test rides, free Tesla EV rides along the spectacular Bunurong Coastal Drive, a Sustainability Marketplace, live music, food and free barista-made coffee.
Visitors will be able to chat to the designers, builders and home-owners of the open properties. Talks by guest speakers are also planned. Tim Adams, from F2 Design, will be explaining how the first 10-Star home in Victoria, located at The Cape achieved its energy rating; and Tammy Logan of Gippsland Unwrapped will describe her commitment to leading a zero waste, plastic-free, environmentally-responsible lifestyle.
Given growing concerns about climate change and rising energy bills, it's hard to fathom why sustainable design and innovative, green technology isn't integral to all new-builds in Australia. These issues alone make a strong case for there being more developments like The Cape, with environmentally-friendly homes making economic sense for both the home-builder and home-buyer.