Archive for October, 2012

An insight into the sustainability practices of G.J. Gardner Homes

As a G.J. Gardner Homes master franchise owner, I’m privileged to be in a position where I’m able to influence the standard of sustainability in homebuilding. These days it’s fairly commonplace for people in the residential building market to take an interest in sustainability, but it’s whether you put anything into practice that’s significant.

My own interest in sustainability in the home has grown stronger over my years as a homebuilder and indeed my own home has many energy saving design elements. I believe everyone in business needs to be developing more of a social conscience as the world’s resources are too precious not to.

G.J. Gardner Homes is the leading franchised homebuilder in Australia and we’re aware of the importance of sustainability and the impact it has on our customers and, of course, the environment. We’re spending increasingly more time and money on improving energy-efficiency in the homes we build. Every small improvement we make to the efficiency of a home results in less fossil fuels being released into the atmosphere.

In 2011, G.J. Gardner Homes Victoria/Tasmania and New South Wales were involved in a Government project with Sustainability House where cost-effective construction and design methods to exceed the Government’s six-star rating requirement for newly built houses were identified. During the 12-month project, Sustainability House provided ideas on how to increase the energy rating of multiple five-star home designs including some plans by G.J. Gardner Homes.

There are a number of methods G.J. Gardner Homes tries to adopt to maximise the energy rating of a dwelling. For cooler climates, we are designing homes to include north facing windows with tiled or concrete floors in these areas to absorb the northern sun, increased insulation, double glazing, efficient heating systems and minimal shading to increase sun exposure to the house. For more extreme climates, our homes can include carefully planned shading and eaves, smaller windows to the west and good cross ventilation, while still allowing the winter sun in.

This year, G.J. Gardner Homes has also been working closely with an architect on some prototypes of energy-efficient homes that are far in excess of any Government requirements, with one design coming in at 9.2 stars for a Melbourne location. The end product is set to benefit the homeowner by providing an extremely energy-efficient home that’s cost effective to both heat and cool.

In order for G.J. Gardner Homes to deliver energy-efficient homes at sharper prices, we are also looking to design a high star rating home that will be more cost-effective to build. A lot of people consider the idea of having an energy-efficient home and strive to be environmentally conscious, but at the end of the day when they have to forego the new flat screen or fancy tap ware suddenly they’re not so green or forward thinking.

By continuing to educate our team and by providing the right product for homeowners at the right price, we will slowly but surely improve the standard of sustainability in the homebuilders market. In an industry where there will always be new products and innovation, I’m confident G.J. Gardner Homes will continue to try and lift the bar for the benefit of both our customers and the environment.

Article written for Your Home by Ross Morley. Ross has been in the building industry for over 30 years. Ross set up the first G.J. Gardner Homes franchise outside of Australia in Auckland in 1997 and has been involved in the G.J. Gardner Homes Victoria/Tasmania master franchise since 2000. There are currently 12 franchises across the two states, producing almost 400 homes annually.


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The new phenomenon – Greening Houses

Greenwalls, more commonly known as vertical gardens, are popping up throughout the country. Whether it’s an apartment balcony or a four bedroom home, there is always a wall or awkward space that a greenwall can be installed and re-claim a small piece of the built environment. They not only look great and free up space but they are also great for the environment.

Greenwalls are soil-less vertical gardens grown on the surface of built structures and are designed to mimic the growing conditions found where
greenwalls occur in nature.

The most immediate benefit of a greenwall is its incredible beauty. The greenery is literally a living skin, allowing unlimited design opportunities. In Australia alone there are over 5,000 suitable native species that colonise on rocks and trees.

Greenwalls have also been proven to reduce ambient temperature and offer sound and other insulating qualities to a buildings exterior skin. They use reticulated water, generally from grey water recycling. In all they minimise the Urban Heat Island Effect.

Over the past 25 years we have mastered the design and can proudly say that all of our greenwalls use 94 per cent of recycled materials that would otherwise be destined for landfill.

When it comes to maintenance all that greenwalls require is a trim every now and then, otherwise the tailored irrigation system takes over. So if you travel a lot you no longer have to worry about coming back to dead plants.

To date we have greened over 600sqm across Australia, New Zealand and Brasil. We will continue to retro fit greenwalls in residential apartments and homes but our real goal is to work with the large building companies to include the fittings into the building stage of new high rises and homes across Australia.

Article by Mark Paul – Horticulturist and Founder of The Greenwall Company

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