Tag Archives: Wise Earth PL

Solar Passive Houses

Here is a link to our recently produced video to show what Ecotect-Architects has been doing recently and in fact for decades….

It is an update on a design approach we pioneered from the 1970s onwards and the services we provide to help you achieve your dream in the most sustainable way possible.

One way to alleviate anxiety over climate change is to build your next houses a well-optimized passive solar house or retrofit your existing house to save energy

Short Video Follow Up

To understand more, please read the script below after watching this video.

And follow up with our educational video made in 2005 to reinforce the knowledge

Or visit the shop on Wise Earth and Ecotect-Architects web sites to purchase useful design manuals.

Comments and Quotes from Garry Baverstock AM, founder of Ecotect-Architects and Wise Earth. 

 “What does it take to make your home naturally comfortable as possible and also apply the latest technologies to help avert dangerous climate change?

“I want to show you that have a home professionally designed makes more sense than ever at this time in history”

“It is not as easy as many in the housing industry would have you believe”.

“It all starts with good design. The aesthetics are important, but also how the house functions is critical. Its use of energy will be an asset or a big liability well after the glow of moving into a new home has long gone!”

“The video is to reinforce the use of passive solar design principles being applied to houses. In temperate climates homeowners pay 60 – 70% annual bills on hot water (23% for Perth, WA), with heating and cooling (40%).

“When considering natural light benefits and energy efficient lights and appliances at least 80 to 90% can be saved using the sun. This reduces the peak load required from 6 – 8 kW to 2 – 3kW of peak power making the application of PV panels far more cost effective”.

“A passive solar design house uses basic principles of orientation, cross ventilation, smart use of materials, shading and insulation to deliver natural comfort most of the time”.

“Solar water heaters will provide a 60 – 70% solar contribution and deliver hot water at 18 c/kWh over the life of the product. This is about half the costs of conventional systems. However our new PV technologies will cost a lot less.”

“Combining passive solar designed houses along with smart controlled PV technologies for hot water, boosting of heating and cooling along with the use of batteries for power and lighting use will allow you to achieve Carbon neutral status in energy use”.

“By the way, it does not make sense to use solar charged batteries to operate hot water or air conditioning at night. It simply is not cost effective and probably never will be for thermal applications.”

“The main principles of solar design are:

– Orient the home to the north in the southern hemisphere (south in the northern)

– Preference given to heavy weight materials for the internal walls

– Design windows and doors to gain good cross-ventilation

– Use double-glazing or install blinds and curtains for insulating windows

– Ensure all windows have adequate overhang or shade device for summer”

“The ideas are simple but the application is subtle. Our longer video ‘Living in a Home that Breaths’ is a good guide on how design should be modified in difference climatic zones. You can find that on YouTube”.

“Builders most often place low priority on planning the home, which is usually a standard plan onto a block as far as climatic considerations are concerned” They basically cut and paste to cheapen the construction but usually leave you with energy bills that will cost you about 10 years of home payments over a 30 year bank loan schedule. Builders seem to be more interested in higher profits than you long term economic benefit.”

“Regulations have forced builders to reconsider their position over the last few decades, but they still to the minimum required for energy efficiency for the same reason”

“Having the right shape facing the right way is critical to achieve good results”

“Understanding the path of the sun and the angles as it hits the walls, windows and roof are very important to get best use of free solar energy in winter and excluding it in summer”.

“When solar radiation passes through window and gets absorbed in the interior walls and flow it re-emits as long wave radiation or heat, from the shortwave radiation of sunlight. This long wave radiation is trapped because it does not pass back out through the glass”.

“In understanding added considerations of using landscaping to enhance the passive solar effects such as wind breaks extra shade in the right position in summer as well as special materials and construction methods all needs an expert to get good results”.

“There is a formula for every climate for the area of glass, rate of insulation, amount of thermal mass, solar performance of blinds and shutters that needs experience”.

“A home is one of the biggest investments most people make”.

“It does not make sense to NOT get it right and add value by good design and planning. Extra design costs are returned many-fold when you sell the property, while enjoying all the extra benefits and energy savings when living there”.

“Staying comfortable, saving money and living in a home that breaths is what an Ecotect-Architects designed home offers”.

“Start the journey with an advisory service on your ideas and go from there perhaps?”

“Those that have done so would tell you it was the best decision made in the journey of having a climate sensible home built that satisfies all aspects of living and economic realities for the 21st century”.

“Have a look at our website and make a booking before you commit too far with your project. Many past clients are glad they did” ……… Garry Baverstock 2019.


Our Team

We have a team of architectural associates of all age groups to suit your style, and all have been trained to be masters at solar and sustainable designed architecture

Design Checklist  (refer to Climate Sensible Designs – ‘Living in a Home that Breathes’)

– What is the goal of this video? To educate the home buyer!

– Start by facing the house the right way

– Create the right kind of shape

– Builders often place houses on a plot of land in such a way to maximize their profit

– They copy and paste the design and fit as many as possible on the land

– By duplicating the design they save expenses and maximize profits

– Solar passive houses use far less energy than ordinary houses

– Therefore they are cheaper to run

– Therefore the largest household expenses are reduced

– You can save 60 to 90% on your electricity/gas heating and cooling bills

– Understanding sun angles and the difference in summer and winter is important

– Sun comes in windows and heats the interior

– The difference between long wave and short wave rays needs to be understood

– Shade windows to stop summer sun and allow winter sun

– Open / Close curtains / blinds / shutters

– The basics are important but it is scientific Therefore the house should be designed by someone trained in the science of architecture

– Who knows how much glass?

– Where to place the windows

– To design open and close windows for breezes

– Use natural vegetation for shading walls and keeping sun off windows in summer

– Deciduous and use ever green landscape

– Concrete Slab – thermally isolated from the ground in cold or hot climates

– Air tightness

– Windows, ceilings, membranes for waterproofing and insulation

– Mechanical ventilation system when needed for release of hot air build-up

– Self-supporting roofing panels

– Retractable shading – Tecto pergola / solar verandahs

– Fresh air supply from northern bulkheads to southern outlets for supplementary AC (for Australia)

– Corridor becomes a transferred air zone

– External walls structured insulated panels

– Thermal bridging

– High performance windows

– Implications of air changes rate 0.1 v. 0.6

– Insulations – polyurethane foam

– Aluminium framed windows

Passive solar house: stringent requirement with guaranteed performance – always comfortable with minimum heating and cooling

– Solar Passive house – broad passive solar design principles, ambient weather/sun but NOT guaranteed though improved conditions


Apartment Buildings in Australia in Disarray: A Response to the Four Corners Expose

Ill-Conceived Economics

Twenty years ago when the builders together with the authorities allowed the construction industry to cheapen buildings and supposedly speeding up the process and avoiding red tape, there was an economic disaster in the making.

They conspired to cut out the architect as leader of the construction industry team. It started with accountants acting as project managers/cost controllers and rapidly spread to the proliferation of design construct companies, who used designer – drafting services and rarely any registered architects. The Governments at the time thought it was a “beaut” idea. It was flawed through ignorance and an abuse of power that did not ever serve the public interest.

As the ABC expose on Four Corners showed, Australia was at that point destined to create problems on a massive scale:


Prior History

Prior to that time, architects traditionally were engaged by clients or developers to certify all payments to the builder. Or professional role was to protect the standards of construction, health and generally urban design quality and standards of finish – Not any more it seems!

Now with an unimaginably large cost burden to strata owners, first in the firing line to rectify defects, it ultimately will end up a burden for the tax burden due to legal loopholes that protect the real perpetrators.

The Cost of Incompetence

The Four Corners program indicates the scale of the issue that has delivered what I estimate at being a $1.6 Billion expense to rectify the compounding problems that are endemic in 70% of apartments built over the last 20 years.  This has happened, all to avoid paying the architects about $100 million in fees to avoid this occurrence.

We have first hand experience in many cases over the last 20 years having to audit process and set up a rectification programs for many design construct buildings after the event. Ecotect-Architects are currently trying to rectify a serious apartment fire escape issue in Perth. The Strata owners in this case will get through a rectification cost reasonably unscathed, but they are much luckier than most.  The building at present does not comply for fire exits for instance.

Superintendence and Certification Roles

Proper superintendence and certification of progress payments by responsible registered and insured architect would have avoided all the current issues and expense to the community.  Also all the buildings would have a better quality of design and finish and reflect higher real estate values.

It is not just a problem based on greed and ignorance from the collusion of design construct builders and developers. It is just plain stupidity that our fellow professionals identified when this new approach became accepted by the relevant authorities.

Action from Architects and Engineers to help Governance

The destruction of real estate values, people’s lives in turmoil has been the result. Some blame can be attributed to banks still living a delusion that ‘A Class’ builders have more credibility than ‘A Class Architects’ in de-risking a finance deal.  How wrong is that belief system proven to be, when it is their capital under threat when quality issues undermine the investment.

The Government now needs to work out a smart way forward with the Australian Institute of Architects, Engineers Australia and the Master Builders to reconsider the legal chain of command and due processes and more stringent compliance procedures. Business as usual is clearly not working!

Housing Industry

The Housing Industry set up checks and balances over 30 years ago to protect the consumer and maintain standards. Surely the bigger end of town should have followed. Alas they didn’t and now Australia is faced with 20 years of eroded economic value!

This unfortunately has fuel NIMBY hysteria over change and giving negative people just cause to attack densification around transport and commercial nodes that in itself is a very good strategy, especially if all developments are designed well on ESD guidelines as well.  But that takes good architects.

Professionalism Re-emergence

Re-establishment of professionalism in Australia is the way forward. It would be easy for industry and governments to blame the victims and exonerate the perpetrators. The opposite is needed. Why have trained architects and engineers sidelined to often un-educated builder/developers to look after the public interest. It is not the architects who have been asleep at the wheel.  Ill-conceived disempowerment of professionals is to blame. The system has worked well for centuries. 

Time to make things right again.  Technical and ethical expertise is what it takes to be an engineer or architect.

Lets use our assets properly!

Old School Architects

We are old school architects at Ecotect-Architects and deliver on all aspects. Project management, supervision of builders and tradesman where needed, as well as delivering excellence in planning, urban design, documentation all combine to deliver high quality innovative ESD projects.

People who think differently clearly do not belong in the 21st century built environment industry, with all its socio / economic / cultural challenges and the ability to recognize how sustainable outcomes are delivered.

Garry Baverstock AM Director of Wise Earth PL and Principal of Ecotect-Architects – August 2019