Monday, September 7, 2015

Sustainable House Day - We're OPEN!

For some strange reason we are opening our house for Sustainable House Day again this Sunday. It's a lot of work in preparation but we love it. We've opened before in 2011 and in 2013 and we remember the fun of chatting to people about gardening, PV, chooks and bikes all day. What a wonderful way to spend a day! What we tend to erase from our memory is the weekends full of weeding, planting, sweeping... but what the heck, I actually enjoy that kind of work anyway and our garden needs a good spring clean every few years so it's good motivation. We're exhibitionists, so we're just embracing it!

Looking through all the amazing houses that will be open this year I have stopped to wonder why we should open ours. Many of the other houses are new builds, all 100% solar  passive and 9 star rated. Their houses look like Ikea magazines (minus the disposable furniture I hope!) and are all neat and shiny. Our house, by comparison looks like granny knitted it, what with our fridge worm farm, our chooks and our scruffy native garden (yes, that is a knitted wheelbarrow below).

Our house is a 1960’s brick veneer house which provided many challenges to retrofit to be more sustainable and energy efficient. We are located on the south side of a hill with a beautiful gum tree to our north (which we can't bare to chop down) and to start with we had no north facing windows. So there is no way we would even be on the star rating scale. Since we bought the house in 2001 we’ve made heaps of changes. But the main change has been with us, as in, our behaviour.

We are firm believers in behaviour change as a significant part of the solution to our current environmental crisis. One of the most inspiring person I've met, Colin Ashton-Graham (a behaviour change economist) starts his presentation like this:

See these light globes? Tell me, which one uses the least amount of power.

And of course everyone votes for either the LEDs or the CFLs and Colin goes, 'Sorry folks, the one that uses the least amount of power is the incandescent globe. It's the only one that is switched off.' Ha! That's how clever Colin is! He then goes on to explain that a sustainable house with unsustainable people in it is less sustainable overall than an unsustainable house with sustainable people in it. Our everyday choices like turning lights off when not needed, opening up the house to let in cool sea breezes in summer, only having one fridge, cooking more at home with local, organic produce, riding more, getting into community and purchasing less crap are central to sustainability. Having the latest sustainability gadget isn't really our thing (unless its bikes, that's Adam's weakness!).

So, while we do have some interesting stuff to show, especially our garden, we also hope the behaviour stuff will rub off too. Anyway, come and visit. We're open from 10am to 4pm this Sunday, September 13 - be lovely to meet you!