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Media Release

Solar Dwellings’ passive solar design cuts energy use by at least 50%

Using only 30% to 50% of the energy consumed by conventional homes, a Solar Dwellings passive solar home is also far more comfortable and liveable because it stays naturally warm in winter and cool in summer.

Passive solar design doesn’t require solar panels (although these can be added to a home to reduce running costs even more), but relies on intelligent design factors such as orientation of the home, placement of windows and choice of building materials.

Established in 1991 by Director, Griff Morris, who has been researching and designing passive solar homes since the late 1970s, Solar Dwellings has created hundreds of sustainable homes and won around 50 major housing awards for design and sustainability.

“Our homes are judged amongst Australia’s best because they’re intelligently designed and very well constructed,” Griff says. “They’re highly sustainable, universally accessible and provide an extremely healthy living environment when low allergen and low toxicity building processes and products are used.

“These are the homes of the future, because they cut a home’s running costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimise environmental impacts.”

Solar Dwellings offers two types of homes:

Individual Designs

The home is uniquely designed to reflect the client’s desires, aspirations and land.

Tailored Designs

One of the company’s standard plans is customised to suit the client’s lifestyle, needs and land at a cost-effective price.

The main components of passive solar design are:

  • Siting and orientation of the home, with living areas and large windows facing north, minimal windows to the east and west, and with the long axis of the home within 15° east or west of north. 
  • Winter warmth and summer cooling is achieved by positioning windows so the sun enters in winter but not during summer. 
  • Natural cooling is also achieved by window placement that allows cross ventilation. 
  • Stable internal temperatures, resulting from appropriate materials, such as brick, concrete or stone, or stone, used in the right locations. Timber floors which can absorb  the sun’s warmth in winter will release it back into the home in the evening, while external shading prevents summer sun entering.
  • Insulation is a barrier to heat flow, and most home builders include ceiling insulation as standard. Solar Dwellings recommends ceiling, under-roof and some wall insulation to retain winter warmth and exclude summer heat.
  • Intelligent landscaping does a lot more than simply create an attractive exterior  – it can protect a home from summer heat and maximize access to winter sun.

“We can further increase sustainability of a home through additional ‘smart home’ measures,” Griff says. “These can include building materials which have low embodied energy and low environmental impact, meaning a home is environmentally responsible in construction as well as in operation.”

Other measures which will create an even greener home with a smaller environmental footprint include: 

  • Non-chemical termite prevention, so the home and family are safe
  • Rainwater harvesting and other water efficiency measures
  • Low-allergen and non-toxic building processes and products, which are important for young families and anyone with allergies
  • Active solar design, such as photovoltaic power generation and solar water heating
  • Aerobic sewerage and waterless urinals
  • Grey water recycling systems and other technologies. 

Background to Griff Morris

When he designed and constructed his first passive solar home in 1977, Griff’s vision was to create a company which would raise awareness and knowledge of sustainable living throughout the building industry and the community. 

He travelled extensively as he spent years analysing passive solar designs, studying architecture and researching the latest technical information on sustainability. He’s now recognised as a leading national authority, teaching sustainable design  at UWA Extension and the Housing Industry Association, and serving on many committees, including a Commonwealth Government committee on home energy efficiency.  

Griff is also a member of the HIA Environmental Planning Committee, has been chief judge for the HIA Housing Awards, Kitchen & Bathroom Awards and the GreenSmart Awards, is a member of two Disability Services Commission committees and an ambassador for the Disability Services Commission ‘Count Me In Project’ which encourages the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of life in WA.

Further information:

Griff Morris
Director, Solar Dwellings
T: 08 9444 4400
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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