AFR, 11 September 2015.

 'We produce more power than we use. We export it to the grid': builder Jeremy Spencer inside the environmentally sustainable house he has designed for his family in Seaholme in western Melbourne. Pat Scala

‘We produce more power than we use. We export it to the grid’: builder Jeremy Spencer inside the environmentally sustainable house he has designed for his family in Seaholme in western Melbourne. Pat Scala

Jeremy Spencer built a house for his family and parents to move into last year. The three-bedroom, two-storey house in Seaholme, in Melbourne’s west, meets several needs – it’s accessible in its design, with wide passageways, ramps and counter-hung benches that permit his wheelchair-bound father to fully participate in the family life.

It’s also sustainable. The house is built with materials such as a recycled concrete-and-glass slab and recycled bricks on the inside to create a thermal mass that absorbs northern sun in winter and diffuses it at night. It also has a solar panel system on the roof.

“Our heating and cooling expenses are extremely low,” Mr Spencer said. “We produce more power than we use. We export it to the grid when we produce excess.”

Spencer’s house cost $525,000, or $2200 per square metre and it’s one of a range that his design and construction firm Positive Footprints builds. So how much more does sustainability cost?

“With all houses we’re putting about $20,000 of extra stuff in,” Mr Spencer said.

It pays off.

“The average Melbourne home has a power bill of about $2300 per year,” he said. “That’s the sort of savings that we’re getting.”

Read the full article and more on sustainable housing here.