Michael Mobbs | Sustainable Projects & Design
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Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any case studies of your Sustainable Projects?
There is an office project in Double Bay, Sydney and a strata project in
Belrose, NSW

The Queensland EPA and the Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland have prepared case studies of two recent projects which I have been involved with: Casurina Beach Township and the Agnes Water Beach Club. You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these documents.

So much has changed, is the book still relevant?
All the issues outlined in the book are as relevant today as they were when the last edition was published.  Read the book for your essential guide to the elements that go into making a house sustainable: power, water, waste.

How can I improve the efficiency of my refrigerator?
As outlined in the book, the objective is to maximise the volume of cool air around your refrigeration system.  How you achieve this will vary on a case by case basis.  If you have access to an underfloor airflow then placing the fridge over a grate will work.  For others it may be necessary to use a vent through the wall or ducted air.

Do your SmartFlo gutters still work?
Yes.  We still endorse the SmatFlo integrated gutter and leafguard system as an efficient way of collecting water and reducing the maintenance required by falling leaves.

Why should curtains and blinds be away from the windows?
Glass is a very poor insulator.  Air is more efficient.  By creating a pocket of air between your curtain and the glass you will improve the insulation.  Of course the insulation properties of the curtains or blinds you use will also contribute, as will the efficiency of the "seal" they create.  We recommend box pelmets to limit air circulation around your windows.  Search for "curtains insulation" for many articles about the benefits of blinds and curtains.    Sample article: thermal curtains

Are there any alternatives for PVC insulated wiring?
We listed two possible suppliers in the book: Olex and Triangle.  It appears Olex only operated to supply the Sydney Olympics construction and Triangle does not do domestic wiring.  We usually recommend searching on EcoSpecifier for alternative products.  If anyone can suggest an alternative Australian supplier for non-PVC insulated wiring let us know and we will update this link.

What is it like to live in a Sustainable House?
Life is much the same as it was before we renovated the kitchen and bathroom to make them bigger. The only difference is when the sun shines we make our electricity, and when it rains we make our water. We have 240 volt appliances - fridge, dishwasher, clothes dryer, computers, video games, lights, etc, and we have mains grid quality electricity.

Is rain water safe to drink?
Over 3 million Australians drink water from rain tanks every day. Data from fortnightly monitoring over 18 months at Sydney's Sustainable House showed that the water was safe to drink. This data has been published in Michael's 1998 book
Sustainable House, published by Choice Books.

Is on site sewage a good idea?
About 25% of houses in the United States, serving over 65 million Americans, have on site waste treatment. Over 37% of new housing in the US is using on site waste treatment systems in preference to "big pipes" leading to centralised sewerage systems. There are two main reasons: For over 20 years very robust, affordable systems have convinced developers and house holders that the systems are workable and cheaper. In addition, the US EPA in a report to Congress, having reviewed the systems across America, began a positive program for management, monitoring and raising standards generally. The same increase in on site waste treatment is taking place in New Zealand (which generally has clay soils and so has greater environmental difficulties compared to many Australian soils). The evidence is out there - the choice is yours.

What are your bills like now?
As we sell our surplus clean solar electricity to the grid (during the day when the sun shines) for the same price we buy the dirty coal-fired electricity (during the night or when it rains) we no longer pay electricity bills. In the last bill, for the months July to October 2001, the local electricity company owed us AU$28.10, and we carry that credit over to the next bill.



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email: info@sustainablehouse.com.au
tel: +61 2 9310 2930 fax: +61 2 9475 0613
street: 58 Myrtle St Chippendale NSW 2008 Australia

©2007 Michael Mobbs ABN 80 571 933 970
Last Modified 21 June 2007