Sept 12, 2015: Greeny Flat Named 2015 Green Globe Awards Finalist

Green Globe 2015 FINALIST_logoFor ‘Excellence in Sustainability’, the Green Globe Awards are NSW’s leading environmental awards.

We are highly honoured and proud to announce that the Greeny Flat has been chosen as one of two finalists in the ‘Built Environments – Residential Properties’ category for the 2015 awards.

The following is a quote from a NSW Office of Environment and Heritage media release about this year’s awards…

The awards, now in their 16th year, celebrate innovative environmental achievements and resource-saving measures from businesses, government and community groups across NSW.

The 2015 award finalists, across 16 award categories, range from industry-experts, famous iconic Sydney buildings, small community groups and global brands. Their projects cover innovation, leadership, resource efficiency, sustainability and wildlife and habitat restoration.

Finalists were chosen by an independent panel of leading environmental experts in the fields of energy, water, waste, sustainability and environmental research and academia. Robin Mellon, Green Globe Award Judging Panel Chair describes the high calibre of this year’s nominations.

“It’s remarkable to see the sustained effort from not only NSW’s largest corporations but also councils, small and medium businesses and community groups in the Green Globe Award nominations this year. Nominees are now addressing sustainability across more areas of their business than ever before, with many looking at long-term visions, social and shared value, and holistic initiatives, rather than simply their short-term goals,” said Mr Mellon.

The winners will be announced at the Green Globe Awards Ceremony on Thursday, 15 October at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney. The Premier’s Award for Environmental Excellence, the best-of-the-best, will be announced at the event.

To read a summary of all 43 finalists visit

Being named as a finalist for this year’s awards puts the Greeny Flat in company with some major players in state, national and global sustainability efforts. Other finalists this year include multinational corporations like Ikea and Unilever; huge property developers like Lendlease and GPT Group; major Australian cities including Sydney and Newcastle; and national icons like the Sydney Opera House.

We can see it now… tourists from all over the world will be changing their itineraries… first stop – Sydney Opera House, second stop – the Greeny Flat…

Okay, maybe not, but if we win the award, we do hope that it will lend weight to our call for a major transformation of the Australian building industry. If I’m invited up to the podium on October 15th, my acceptance speech will go something like this…

‘Currently, Australians are building the largest, and some of the most unsustainable and unaffordable homes in the world.


We don’t need bigger homes than anyone else in the world. We could easily reduce the size of our homes and use the money saved to make them more energy efficient, sustainable and affordable. The Greeny Flat proves that there is no reason why every home (and most other buildings in Australia) could not be energy positive and carbon neutral. It is a relatively inexpensive and simple thing to achieve and doing so has the potential to generate a lot of jobs and economic activity with a huge payback in terms of lower operating costs, reduced carbon emissions and healthier, more liveable buildings.

But we need both government and industry to step up to the plate. We need much higher energy efficiency standards. We need sustainability to be an underlying principle of all our Building Codes and Planning Regulations. And we need the big builders like GPT and Lendlease to aggressively develop and market much more sustainable buildings than they are currently offering.’

Wish us luck! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Passive House, Active Owner (continued)

Due to a combination of jet-lag and technical difficulties, last week’s Newsletter was cut short. Below is the rest of the piece that was incomplete. Sorry for the confusion last week…

There’s an old saying in Passive Solar Design circles… ‘A passive house requires an active owner’. This means that, in order to get the greatest benefit from a passive solar designed house, the occupants need to operate the house in a logical and consistent way. For example, during the summer, the way we keep the Greeny Flat cool is by opening the windows and blinds at night to let cool air flow through the house. This lowers the temperature of the thermal mass in the concrete floor. During the day, we close all the windows and blinds to keep the heat out and the thermal mass helps to keep the interior nice and cool. As ‘active owners’ it’s up to us to remember to open and close the windows and blinds in the mornings and evenings in order for the ‘passive’ design to work optimally.

In the winter time we keep the windows closed all the time. We open the insulating blinds during the day to let the sun pour in and warm the thermal mass of the floor and close the blinds at night to help keep the heat in the house. By opening and closing the blinds at the appropriate times we were able to keep the interior relatively comfortable through our whole first winter with almost no additional heating (apart from a very small radiator we used once or twice in the bedroom). The graph below shows the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures during the last winter when we were here to operate the house correctly.

Graph showing the indoor and outdoor temperature fluctuations in winter at the Greeny Flat

Graph showing the indoor and outdoor temperature fluctuations in July 2014

You can see that, even though the outdoor temperature was fluctuating between 20 and -2degC the indoor temperature stayed comfortable between about 24 and 15degC.

This winter was a different story, we just got back from a six-week trip, during which time the Greeny Flat was empty and no-one was here to operate the blinds. As you can see from the second graph below, this meant that the indoor temperature was significantly lower.

Graph of indoor and outdoor temperatures

Graph of indoor and outdoor temperatures in August 2015 while we were away

For security reasons we chose to leave the blinds closed while we were away which meant that the sun could not come in to warm the thermal mass of the floor during the day. So the whole house was colder both day and night. I was actually surprised that the indoor temperature didn’t get even colder than this with no sun coming into the house. As you can see from the the table on our Results Page, the lowest temperature recorded while we were gone was 10.6degC despite the outdoor temperature getting down to -3.4degC. This is testament to the value of good insulation, air-sealing and thermal mass.

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