Recycled Interiors Podcast 0017: Creating an Energy Efficient Home

Brett Aylen is co-founder of TS4 Living, the company behind Australia’s first designed and built zero carbon house located at Lochiel Park Green Village

Brett is an architect with a clear vision of what it takes to deliver a sustainable project. He has been working in the industry for 20 years and his broad experience enriches his understanding of sustainability at all levels, from the dynamics of people and communities through to the selection of robust materials and the construction of healthy buildings. Brett is a strong believer in the value of multi-disciplinary teams and is pro-active in building the right team for each project.

Brett’s passion for sustainable architecture extends beyond TS4 Living. He taught sustainable architecture part-time at UniSA between 2007 and 2014. He is also Co-founder of the Adelaide Sustainable Building network, which is a forum for education and networking for sustainably minded people and organizations working in the built environment.

Please head to iTunes to subscribe and leave us a review if you love the show as it helps us to get it out there and make a difference. You can also listen on Stitcher and leave a review over there, or just sit back and listen on the blog. Thank you for being here.

Zero Carbon Houses & Energy Efficient Homes with TS4Living

Zero Carbon Houses & Energy Efficient Homes with TS4Living

Things you will want to remember from the show

  1. The sustainability quality of home projects is not always high even with the elements that are expected –  for example insulation may be there but be poorly installed and not work properly – you need to find builders who get this and understand how important it is
  2. By working with builders who you know understand the principles you want to follow, you will get a better result than going to tender for the cheapest bidder
  3. TS4 do pressure tests and thermal camera tests, to check after the build – this is where a big fan is put into the home to pressurise the house and check for air leakage.
  4. What happens is outside air is mixing with inside air, so any air you are heating is leaking out via the drafts and you have to continuously reheat the indoor air. With great sealing you heat the air, it stays in and you do not have to heat as often
  5. The fan is linked to a computer and can check how much air is leaking – international guidelines exist for this but not in Australia yet
  6. When it come to cooling it is the same principle – during the day you do not want the hot outside air to leak in. You want the inside air to be separate from the outside air. This is where we close the house down and keep as a sealed environment on those very very hot days – you do not have to keep re cooling it
  7. Any issues from the pressure testing can be often resolved with checking the architraves, skirtings, cornices to make sure they are all sealed. Behind stoves and ovens and fridges and pantries also have small gaps where services penetrate and can be more sealed. Anywhere where there is a penetration – seals can be added to doors and windows, choosing new windows with extremely good seals built in
  8. This is as important as insulation
  9. You can go too far, sick building syndrome is when a house is so well sealed it reduces indoor air quality issues, such as toxin build up or mould
  10. In our climate we don’t need to be as sealed in a very cold European or North American climate. In those places they have a trickle fan running to keep venilation running through
  11. However in our climate we tend to have windows open and houses are designed for cross flow ventilation and will vary from the Adelaide Plains, to the Adelaide Hills for example. Most of the year in Adelaide we would have fresh air with open windows – it is the very hot or cold days where this is important
  12. A good architect will design for the climate
  13. Zero carbon house – definition – combination of the embodied energy of construction (all of the energy required to produce the materials, and labour ) then the house runs and has operational energy, the homeowner lives in there and uses energy – both have to be addressed for a zero carbon house
  14. You can address that through paying for carbon offsets – eg a scheme that is planting trees against the construction of the home, or you can run onsite power generation – eg solar systems that generate more than the house is using, each year you are offsetting a little of the carbon footprint (eg after 32 years it may become carbon positive)
  15. a sustainable home does not have to be any particular type of home, it can be alternative materials, or using traditional materials and be contemporary home
  16. It is about climate responsive design – there are many ways you can do that and it is not related to the look of the home
  17. Lochiel Park is a green village but you would not look at them and say they were sustainable homes unless you had an eye for it
  18. Brett used a timber frame with a foam board product – this gives extra insulation that gave them the high rating. This is a foam board insulation. There are many kinds of foam in the building industry and qualities. A basic quality is a polystyrene and even in this there are many grades – eg the beaded polystyrene you get in packaging is a low grade foam. They use a high quality extruded foam that is denser and durable, does not absorb water and is a long lasting product. The walls them become resistant to heat.
  19. Foam is not necessarily a green product but Brett says it depends on the type of foam – it is about looking into the materials and their chemical formulas and how they are used. The foam is on the outside so not in contact with the interior air. Some people may not like the idea of foam and therefore they recommend different materials. Brett feels after his research that this is a reasonable option and it is about weighing things up
  20. Materials inside the home are very important as we seal our homes more – in terms of having zero or low VOC materials and finishes for example so toxins are not sealed inside with you!
  21. Our building designs are changing, as well as our climate and the way we respond to those changes is evolving
  22. Working with an architect means you can design for your lifestyle – being space efficient which saves on construction costs and energy use, maintenance and time – eg for cleaning. We need to be conscious of flexibility and multi use of space as homes get smaller


TS4 Living






Please head to iTunes to subscribe and leave us a review if you love the show as it helps us to get it out there and make a difference. You can also listen on Stitcher and leave a review over there, or just sit back and listen on the blog. Thank you for being here.

Helen xx


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