Low Environmental Impact
The environmental impact of Habitech homes is at the core of all development and design considerations.
From design through to material selection, transportation, building, systems and operation, our sustainable house designs minimise environmental impact at every opportunity. Once built, our modular homes operate in a sustainable and extremely energy efficient way.
Our customised, more sustainable designs produce high quality homes that use fewer materials than traditional building methods.
To fully understand the environmental impact created by our houses, we consider their environmental impacts throughout the four main stages of a house's life:
- delivery and construction
- operation over the life of the building
- disposal at end of life
We understand that the operational phase of a house is usually of greatest concern to our clients. However we are all ultimately affected by the impacts of our buildings throughout the full cycle.
We think it worth remembering that we are currently using more than 1.3 times more resources than the planet can provide, and if the world's population was to live at Australia's living standards, we would need 3 1/2 globes of resources to support it.
Manufacture - Less Material, Less Energy, Less Waste, Safer Work
Our modular construction system is based on using plantation grown timber, that dependent on forestry practices is a potentially fully renewable resource.
Timber is a material delivered to us by the elegant efficiency of nature. Planting a $2 tube-stock seedling, then do little to have it grow into cubic meters of such a wonderful building product is a system we do not see a human factory or process being able to replicate.
We view timber as a 'miracle' product and if we can better understand the ecological implications of how and where we grow it, we believe timber has the potential to become a truly sustainable resource.
Low embodied energy
'Embodied energy' is the amount of energy used in the manufacture of a product, and all the materials it contains. The supply of this energy creates corresponding C02 emissions that pollute our global atmosphere.
Habitech's innovative wall panel system is made from materials that are not only low-emission, but actually play a role in drawing carbon back down from our atmosphere.
- Magnesium oxide cladding boards - 50% sawdust, cast at air temperature, reaction of the magnesium oxide draws carbon out of the air.
- Plywood and timber plates - timber is an amazing material, in that it takes carbon out of the atmosphere rather than pollutes it further as all other common building materials do. The graph below illustrates the emissions from using a cubic metre of timber in comparison to other products.
Manufacturing Technologies & Efficiencies
The efficiency of our factory manufactured building components significantly reduces energy and material wastage in building a house. Our materials are supplied close to size and nothing is wasted due to damage, storage or any other vagaries of an outdoor building site.
With over 30% of landfill in Victoria coming from construction sites, the waste involved in traditional construction is no small matter. Some studies have also estimated that up to 30% of materials go directly into a skip - all of which you still pay for.
Safer working environments
With workplace deaths and injuries continuing to occur on building sites, and OHS provisions becoming more complex and expensive, factories offer much safer working environments for building components of our housing.
Weather protected and well-lit, a manufacturing workforce also allows for much greater participation for women than traditionally male dominated construction sites.
Delivery & Construction - Less Transport Energy And Pollution, Less Packaging
Our modular construction system maximises transport efficiencies. Our panel components are delivered in a 'flat pack' format which minimises CO2 emissions, air pollution and congestion from moving either hundreds of small building materials, or the volume of fully prefabricated houses.
Minimal cranage or motorised machinery is required to build our houses, minimising emissions, air-pollution and sound pollution from our building sites.
We replace the hundreds of separate building materials normally required to get a building to a weather-tight state - all delivered packaged up as small units - with 4-5 deliveries of our modular building components. Delivered on plywood palettes, our simplified delivery system radically reduces the volume of packing waste on building sites.
Operation - Less Polluting To Live In
The atmospheric carbon pollution that living in our houses generates is significantly reduced by their reduced heating and cooling needs and integrated services technology.
Maintenance and material replacement
The solid nature of our modular components reduce the ability for wall fabrics to degrade over time, avoiding issues of moisture and vermin penetrating voids and the development of mould within wall cavities. Our innovative magnesium oxide cladding system requires minimal external maintenance.
Our lifestyles are also closely connected to the water systems that flow through our landscape, and the natural system that recycles and delivers it back up to the top of mountain catchments for us.
We design our roofs for full catchment of rainwater as a standard in our houses, utilising a range of tank types to store and deliver recycled water for toilet flushing, washing machine and other uses as our clients require.
On non-sewered rural sites we have worked with a range of independent sewerage treatment technologies and have a depth of understanding in the nutrient, energy and maintenance implications of a range of systems.
Our staff members have been involved the installation and trialling of a number of on-site greywater systems over the past 10 years, with most unfortunately no longer operating. Our advice on storing and treating greywater on an individual house scale is that greywater quickly becomes blackwater, and current technologies are best suited to larger scale systems with structure to operate regular maintenance.
Other natural systems
Thinking in more sustainable ways challenges us to look further and consider what other natural systems our houses interact with throughout their occupied life, including:
- waste streams and collection
- biodiversity in the landscape
- productive gardens
Disposal - more reusable and recyclable
Habitech's component based approach to building creates the opportunity for our panels to be disassembled at the end of a building's life and directly reused in a new wall and roof. This minimises resources and energy often required to recycle material at smaller scales.
If beyond this, the faces of our wall panels can be stripped from the EPS core and mulched. While we do not currently have facilities to directly recycle our panels yet, as we design our houses with a 100 year design life, it is an aspect of our business that we have a bit of time to get to.
Our ultimate goal is produce a 100% biologically based panel that can be mulched to take all nutrients back onto timber plantations growing the next generation of our houses.
At Habitech, we do not try super-size your housing needs.
In Australia, we build some of the largest houses in the world, as illustrated in the graph below:
We believe we are all intelligent enough to know that the bigger the object - the bigger the impacts.
The size of the house you build also affects the quality you can afford, with the cost of a house design being a balance of three variables:
By designing efficient plans that minimise circulation and maximise usable living spaces, not only can you we help reduce the environmental footprint of your house, but have a higher quality of finish for the same budget.
At Habitech, we like to think of ourselves as the Morgan Spurlock of the Australian housing sector.