57 Shakespear St, Mt Hawthorn-32

Written by Griff Morris, Founder and Director of Solar Dwellings

Griff’s list of significant contributions is lengthy! Some of these include Inaugural Board member of the now Sustainable Energy Association, Member of the HIA Environmental Planning Committee, Member of the Commonwealth Government Committee regarding the Technical Advisory Manual for the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Member of two Disability Services Commission committees just to name a few.

Griff and his Solar Dwellings staff have been recognised with numerous awards. They’ve also received much recognition for their work on notable projects such as the:

  • Mandurah Links Sustainable Home
  • Subiaco Sustainable Demonstration Home
  • Quattro in Queens Park Sustainable Home
  • The creation of two 10 star homes in Hilton with Josh Byrne, landscape architect and Gardening Australia’s WA presenter.

One of the first homes that I ever designed in Perth was a home in West Leederville where I’d advised a client on a particular house, this house was a typical double brick and tile home. Nothing different to any other home except the layout of the rooms and placement of openings to make the house more efficient.

After the conversion the client had the plans valued and the agent said he had a buyer who would pay $80,000 more for the house, which was a considerable sum back then.

She then contacted me and confirmed that the choice to design a solar passive home would indeed increase the value of the property. The design went ahead and the property was built.

As a consequence of living in her previous home she found that she had been experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) syndrome. And it just so happens that every winter she would go back to England to spend the English summer with her mother.

When she moved into her new home she found that she was happier and didn’t feel the need to go back to England. The house was so bright and warm through winter she found that she stayed in the home and her mother came out to visit her.

The sale of both properties achieved not just a financial gain but also a positive lifestyle change. Once selling she approached me again to construct four solar passive investment properties in Subiaco.

Passive solar design cuts energy use by at least 50%

Using only 30% to 50% of the energy consumed by conventional homes, a passive solar home is also far more comfortable and liveable because it stays naturally warm in winter and cool in summer.

Passive solar design doesn’t require solar panels (although these can be added to a home to reduce running costs even more) but relies on intelligent design factors such as orientation of the home, placement of windows and choice of building materials.

The main components of passive solar design are:

  • Siting and orientation of the home, with living areas and large windows facing north, minimal windows to the east and west, and with the long axis of the home within 15° east or west of north.
  • Winter warmth and summer cooling is achieved by positioning windows so the sun enters in winter but not during summer.
  • Natural cooling is also achieved by window placement that allows cross ventilation.
  • Stable internal temperatures, resulting from appropriate materials, such as brick, concrete or stone, or stone, used in the right locations. Timber floors which can absorb the sun’s warmth in winter will release it back into the home in the evening, while external shading prevents summer sun entering.
  • Insulation is a barrier to heat flow, and most home builders include ceiling insulation as standard. Recommendations include ceiling, under-roof and some wall insulation to retain winter warmth and exclude summer heat.
  • Intelligent landscaping does a lot more than simply create an attractive exterior – it can protect a home from summer heat and maximize access to winter sun.

Other measures which will create an even greener home with a smaller environmental footprint include:

  • Non-chemical termite prevention, so the home and family are safe
  • Rainwater harvesting and other water efficiency measures
  • Low-allergen and non-toxic building processes and products, which are important for young families and anyone with allergies
  • Active solar design, such as photovoltaic power generation and solar water heating
  • Aerobic sewerage and waterless urinals
  • Grey water recycling systems and other technologies.

Savings & Benefits

What will building a passive solar home mean for you? It looks good, is healthy, saves on running costs, will age with you, will be bright and airy and will feel great.

It’s so much better for the environment and the future of our planet too – and a sustainable home costs you significantly less to run.

The real question is what it will cost if you don’t?


47 Baudin Drive, Gnarabup002

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *