photography by nayan puri, abc tv, chris neylon and paul haar
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Presentation by Paul Haar and Alex Rentsch - April 2021
To Building Designers Association of Australia (BDAA) and Australian Building Sustainability Association (ABSA)
Between 2002 and 2019, Paul was centrally engaged with Mullum Creek, a peri-urban eco-housing project in Donvale Victoria. https://mullumcreek.com.au/
His role was to elicit positive environmental outcomes for the project that go well beyond, and address weaknesses in, what was generally considered to be best practice sustainable development at the time.
Both in early project framing, in preparation of environmental design and construction guidelines tied to purchase of lots, as well as through formal step-by-step design reviews and construction overview, Paul and his team steered 42 lot owners, 38 architects and designers as well as 29 building and landscape contractors:
To achieving a genuine NatHERS minimum 7.5 star energy rating for all homes, verified at design stage by a single independent and rigorous energy assessor commissioned by the developer, and at construction stage via rigorous inspections.
To include continuous ground slab insulation, crucial for highly glazed homes chasing 7.5 stars in a cool climate zone, by way of careful design and construction detailing that was largely unfamiliar to local industry.
To contain built form and newly planted trees within prescribed lot-specific 3D building and vegetation envelopes that preserve good mid-winter inter-lot solar access for all homes ... for their glazing (on which high energy ratings rely), for primary private open space and rooftop photovoltaic arrays.
To include a required minimum 30% supplementary cementitious material (SCM) in all wet mix concrete, spraycrete and mortar. This was rigorously checked via delivery dockets.
To minimise the use of steel in construction.
To source timber products in accordance with strict selection criteria as set by the design guidelines and tightly controlled during construction. This requirement was backed by a comprehensive list of environmentally responsible and affordable timber choices for all applications.
To landscape home sites with stone, wood and plant materials that connect sensitively with the estate’s natural bush surrounds and encourage food gardening.
To include min. 20kL rainwater storage and min. 4kW rooftop solar on all home sites.
To reduce construction waste to landfill by 80% from business as usual via required minimisation and recycling practices.
27 practical guides and info-sheets were prepared to support the implementation of all these initiatives. They are now circulating widely, also beyond the estate, as free knowledge for the commons and are being updated regularly.
The team in Paul’s office, that included also Raphie Kruse, Nayan Puri, Jessamie Yule, Jodi Rashbrook and Jess Hogg, were impressed with how cooperatively and effectively most building and landscape contractors embraced Mullum Creek’s many required and recommended environmental initiatives.
Paul will be forever grateful for the opportunity and experience that the Mullum Creek project brought to his architectural practice, made possible by the owner-developers Steve, Sue and Danny Mathews.
Presentation to the EcoCity World Summit
Melbourne Australia - 12 July 2017
A personal reflection on Mullum Creek
by Paul Haar Architect
Mullum Creek Design Guidelines
Version 8.2 - October 2016