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Posts from the ‘Sustainable Building Victoria’ Category

Sustainable Building Design Services

As part of our services we offer consultation & design right from the concept design stage, to town planning applications & architectural drawings, through to building permit application and everything required to be ready to build.

We can provide designs completely from scratch, or work with design ideas you may already have.

We can provide advice on optimal layout for passive solar gain, materials and design features to improve sustainability and off-grid or alternative energy systems.

There is an ever-increasing range of products and materials that are improving the availability and choice for home design, as well as the tried and tested methods of natural building that have been around for centuries and are now seeing a resurgence.

Being able to provide design services as well as building & construction, means that we have more control over being able to design a home that has a high level of sustainability and is in line with the client’s budget, whilst still being functional to build.

Aspects that may be included in a sustainable home include:

  • Natural materials – rammed earth, straw bale, stone, recycled brick, hempcrete
  • Recycled materials
  • Natural Renders
  • Sustainably sourced Australian plantation timbers
  • Designs for those who wish to be completely off-grid
  • Alterations to existing dwellings
  • Increased self-sufficiency for city living
  • Products with low toxicity
  • Products with low embedded energy
  • Double-glazing on windows
  • Passive solar orientation/design
  • Heating – heat pump systems, solar and combustion stove systems
  • Composting toilets
  • Grey-water systems
  • Natural ventilation
  • Built to last
  • Water storage
  • Landscaping to improve energy efficiency
  • Attached green houses/green spaces
  • Creative spaces


Jeraboam Eco-lodge

This property is located in a beautiful part of the Grampians in Victoria and is completely self-sufficient. The concept was an environmentally friendly design aimed at blending in with the natural environment.

The house has a passive solar orientation and design and is completely off-grid. The footprint of the house was minimised, with a floor plan of 11 squares. The design consists of two bedrooms (including the main bedroom upstairs) and a third bedroom/study, with a comfortable living, dining and kitchen area downstairs. Bushfire protection was an important aspect of the design as was incorporating adequate storage.

Rammed earth walls constitute the main building component using locally sourced gravel from less than 30km away from the site. The thermal mass principles of rammed earth work well in this climate and the building maintains a constant comfortable temperature in both summer and winter.

Hot water is provided by a solar system with a combustion stove in the kitchen providing the boost for times when there is not enough solar gain. The stove also provides a means of heating for the house and cooking. An LPG gas stove is used as an alternative for cooking during summer.

An open fireplace, built from locally sourced Dunkeld sandstone provides additional heating and ambiance. Wood for heating is sourced selectively from the dead wood on the property ensuring to leave wildlife habitat.

Double-glazed windows are used throughout with the windows framed from sustainably sourced smoked Baltic pine. Grape vines on the north-facing pergola provide shade in summer and allow light in during winter.

Electricity is provided by a full solar system with battery storage. LED lighting is used throughout the home.

The original design incorporated a composting toilet, however issues with council regulations for kitchen waste, meant that a septic system was required. The owners decided to negate further costs by installing a conventional toilet. All water is supplied from a 40,000 litre water tank attached to the house plus 2×25,000 litre tanks attached to a shed.

The owners have since developed a large productive food garden as well as native drought tolerant plantings/landscaping.

The eco-lodge is available as a short-term holiday rental on or visit

The home was also featured in Sanctuary Magazine (Issue 29, 2014).

Owner: Janet Stephens  

Design: Creations In Parallel    

Build: Creations In Parallel & Sustainable Structures 

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Sustainable & Natural Building

An important core focus of our business is environmentally conscious design and building practices, whether the home be a new build, renovation, a self-sufficient property (off-grid), or in the midst of the city. Whether it be improving the environmental efficiency of only a few aspects of the home, or developing a completely self-sufficient design (supplying your own energy, heating, cooling, water and waste management).

During the design phase we aim to incorporate aspects that don’t necessarily cost more money but provide better environmental gains non-the-less, such as passive solar design and orientation, natural ventilation, green living spaces, cost effective heating systems and product choice.

We spend time researching the products and materials that we use and try to determine the life cycle analysis of products as much as possible including toxicity, production methods, embedded energy, and the end of life effects. It is now being recognised that the embodied energy of the components of a house have just as much of an environmental impact as the energy used in operating the building over its lifetime. We work with suppliers who are knowledgeable about these aspects of their products and who also have a strong belief in sustainability. Where possible we prefer to use natural materials and recycled materials.20130127TheBlock4120

We source sustainable timbers and prefer Australian grown plantation sources due to a higher level of transparency and protection measures. We aim to choose materials that have lower toxicity and install systems that are both environmentally efficient and cost effective. We also work with client’s who have a limited budget or can only change a limited aspect of their home. While a completely self-sufficient design may be impractical in the city, we have worked with client’s to incorporate aspects such as environmentally efficient grid connect heating systems, grampsspring3improving the solar gain of their homes, and incorporating sustainable materials and recycled materials when possible.

Natural building materials have a much reduced or very low environmental impact and may include rammed earth, straw bale, stone and natural renders and finishes. The materials themselves are usually reasonably inexpensive, but there is usually a lot more labour required when it comes to the build. They have low toxicity and are great to work with and provide a lovely finish. Most natural materials require some form of upkeep or maintenance over the years, but that’s just part of the process when living in, and with, a naturally built home.