A Victorian builder has his sights set on making Australian homes greener and more energy efficient than ever before with a landmark new development project that has seen him honoured with a medal on the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours list.
Wodonga's Brendon Collins is aiming to develop Australia's first 10-star energy rated homes in a medium density development.
So far Australia is home to just 14 accredited 10-star energy efficient homes, which are all free-standing — and none so far have been available to purchase ready-built or off the plan, as with Mr Collins' new homes.
Mr Collins is hoping the seven homes he has designed for Wodonga's Elmwood medium density development will increase the total and make up a third of Australia's top energy homes, if the design meets the criteria under the Federal Government's Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme.
The scheme looks at elements including orientation, layout, insulation and glazing, and construction materials.
Most new houses in Australia have to meet a minimum six-star rating.
Greener options for future families
The 115 homes at Mr Collins' Elmwood development currently range from seven to 8.5 star energy ratings, but he said it has taken years of planning to try and meet 10 stars.
"We haven't done it yet, but for the last five years we've working hard to achieve that," Mr Collins said.
"Trialling a lot of different building methods, it's obviously technical when you get to that level of building."
Most elements of a 10-star home have to be constructed differently from that of a lower energy rated house — from pouring slabs differently, creating special walls and roof design, to triple-glazing the windows and installing batteries and solar panels.
"The development has required close collaboration with the Wodonga council, and is being monitored by up to 60 architects, as they look at ways to achieve a greener and more sustainable future," Mr Collins said.
"It's very hard to achieve that status, it's why it's not done.
"We're hoping to be the first to do that in Australia, to have a 10-star off-the-shelf [home] that you can purchase."
After the years of development, Mr Collins said he is now within weeks of knowing if his plan will be signed off as 10-star.
While Mr Collins said there is not an overwhelming demand for 10-star energy rated houses, he believes they are going to be a big part of the future.
"We're just building a model for the future," he said.
"You just need population, people who will buy them — and someone as crazy as I am to push it."
The design has led to Mr Collins being awarded a medal in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours list.