Eco Village decides on its own higher building standards

A dedicated team of volunteers have spent the past 12 months developing building standards for the Narara Eco Village, which has always been intended to be a demonstration project.

A key element will be the 100 or so ‘eco-houses’ that will be built at the village.

“With members’ ambitions ranging from ‘natural’ houses and hightech, low weight modular houses, to hand-built, 100 per cent recycled houses, and favoured materials ranging from rammed earth to hempcrete and phasechange materials, there will be lots of fascinating experiments to learn from,” said Mr Richard Cassels from the Narara Eco Living Network Inc.

“However all buildings will have to meet Government requirements, as well as the ecovillage’s aspirations,” he said. As a result, the volunteers have developed the building standards that will be required of anyone building a home at the ecovillage.

“All designs will have to be approved by a building review panel, or a Narara Eco Village registered assessor, before being submitted to Gosford Council. The standards focus on meeting environmental criteria. “There are no aesthetic design guidelines.

“They are aimed at encouraging innovation, as well as ensuring compliance with, and indeed exceeding, mandatory government requirements,” he said. In fact, the NEV Building Standards project has been sufficiently innovative for BASIX to create a new criterion specifically for the project that gives water credits that may alleviate the necessity to install water tanks.

“The debate has been vigorous. “Questions and objections have been scrupulously documented and responded to. “From arguments that current regulations and assessment tools do not lead to sustainable buildings, to small houses being disadvantaged, the group has fought its way to a workable conclusion after considering many Australian and overseas schemes.

“The final result takes elements from the NSW compulsory system, BASIX, and the global best practice Greenstar Communities, with additional innovation points, as well as bonus points for growing food etc.

There will be special sessions on the latest developments in sustainable home design and construction at the Narara Ecoburbia Festival on Saturday, April 16. Following the Ecoburbia festival, Narara Eco Living Network will also be organising regular talks in 2016, so that anyone interested can meet and hear experts on the subject.

Newsletter, Nov 25, 2015
Richard Cassels, Narara