Why the ‘Greeny Flat’?

We built the Greeny Flat because we believe that the time has come to move towards a fossil-fuel-free future and to build small, simple structures that meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. We’re hoping to show that it can be easy and affordable to build an energy positive house, i.e. one that makes more energy than it uses, which will allow us to live comfortably in harmony with our environment. If we can show that anyone can achieve this then the question really becomes, “Why not?”

So what exactly is a “Greeny Flat”?

A ‘Greeny Flat’ is a small, affordable, infill home designed and built to be as sustainable as possible. And, while it is perfect for a mature lady with grandchildren and a limited income, it is really designed for anyone who cares about protecting the planet and living comfortably within their means. A big part of what makes it ‘affordable’ is the low operating and maintenance costs which add up to huge savings over the life of the home (and its occupants) and a big part of what makes it sustainable is making it ‘energy positive’, i.e. it should produce more energy than it uses over a year.

The particular Greeny Flat in question is a full-scale living experiment currently underway in Mittagong, NSW, to see if it’s possible to build a small, comfortable, healthy, energy positive, low-maintenance, fire-resistant, water-efficient, elderly-friendly infill house at an affordable price.

It was conceived, designed, and built by Andy Lemann with lots of help from Jane, Martin, George, and Cate Lemann and Cintia Yamane. It’s based on a Triple Bottom Line philosophy which aims to improve the Environmental, Financial and Social outcomes of the choices we make. Now that construction is complete, Andy and Cintia are living in it for at least a year and monitoring the energy performance, water usage, water quality, indoor air quality, and comfort to see whether it actually meets the goals. There’s a lot of hype (i.e b__s__) in the ‘Environmentally Sustainable Design’ (ESD) and “Green Building’ fields. Lots of extravagant claims made about ‘net-zero-energy’ performance and lofty sustainability credentials. We think the literal proof is in the proverbial pudding. If, at the end of the year, the Greeny Flat has made more energy than it’s used, conserved water, and remained healthy and comfortable inside without any additional heating or cooling, then we’ll call this experiment a success. And of course we’ll be able to report on the costs associated with building and operating the place over the year too. Whether or not it’s ‘affordable’ will be a matter of opinion so we’ll leave that to you to decide.

As you browse through this website, please bear in mind that it is not the ‘look’ of the Greeny Flat that is important but the ‘way it works’. We chose to use galvanised cladding on the exterior because it doesn’t hold heat and doesn’t require painting and we chose to use plywood on the exterior walls because it allows the whole building to be taken apart and repurposed at the end of its useful life. But these were personal choices and you could reach the same small, comfortable, healthy, energy positive, low-maintenance, fire-resistant, water-efficient, elderly-friendly goals with different materials and a very different look both inside and outside.

To read more about the goals for the project and what they mean click here or on the ‘Goals’ tab at the top of the page.

Click here or on the ‘Gallery’ tab to view a photo diary of the project.

For those who like to get down to the nitty-gritty click here or on the ‘Details‘ tab more in-depth information about the project, the philosophy behind it, and the systems used.

Or to immerse yourself in our shining wit (thank you Dr Spooner) about the ongoing status of the experiment click here or on the ‘Newsletter’ tab above (or on the links to the right).

Thanks for visiting and feel free to contact us if you have any questions after you’ve read through all this malarkey.