NatHERS Climate Zone 24.
The Mor house is located in a striking landscape, perched at the summit of the Lake George escarpment in Gunning Shire, NSW. The owners purchased the site with their eventual retirement in mind and wished to design the house with potential for use as a low-key bed-and-breakfast guest house.
Given itís remote and difficult site conditions, conventional passive solar design was almost impossible to achieve. As a result, simple active solar methods and unusual building configuration were used to achieve energy efficient heating and cooling, making the best possible use of passive solar principles on a an extremely constrained site.
Because of the narrowness of its building platform - positioned as it is at the edge of a near-vertical incline - the house is laid out along a north-south line with the minor dimension running east-west. To achieve solar gain in winter two east/west aligned wings run across the main line of the house, forming an east-facing courtyard which overlooks the lake basin 150 metres below. The main living wing is substantially overshadowed by a single storey bedroom wing lying to the northern-most position on the site. In order to overcome this problem, a storey-height skillion containing north-facing windows is set above the bedroom wing to allow direct sunlight into the living area.
The house is connected to the electricity grid, however, it has recently had a 4.2kW PV array added to its north-facing roof pitches which should more than balance the power draw to the site. Space heating is mostly by direct solar gain with a heat shifting fan employed to help heat the southern bedrooms. Back-up heating is by slow-combustion wood-fuel heater positioned in the main living area.
Ventilation is achieved by up-draft, night flush cooling, making use of the extensive high-set windows and internal masonry walls in the living zone to purge hot air from the interior and drop the structural temperature at night. High performance Verosol blinds are used throughout to assist the composite-framed double-glazed windows insulate the house at night.
Low-embodied energy materials are used, including radial-cut hardwood cladding boards and eco-ply externally and concrete Besser block masonry internally.
Water supply and waste treatment are independent from the mains lines. Approximately 90,000 litres of rainwater are collected into four steel tanks integrated into the design to provide for service water and an aerated septic system handles sewerage treatment and recycling. Hot water is supplied by a close-coupled solar system.