“Mine is the first nine star,” she said. “I’m happy to say that.”
Designed as a granny flat, her house faces north, the windows are double-glazed and the floor is made of concrete, which cools and heats passively.
Her neighbor’s hempcrete house has 8.8 stars, but she surpassed it.
“The builder said I think we can do it [and increase the star rating], and I said, “Whatever,” and then I realized what a big deal that is. Now I brag about it all the time,” she said.
Every homeowner in Narara must commit to at least seven stars, reduce water use by 70 percent, generate enough solar power to meet their annual needs, and use more sustainable materials.
In contrast, the average star rating for homes built in Sydney this year was 6.2 stars for new homes and 6.5 for new apartments. New homes and renovations must meet a 7-star energy rating from October 2023.
Mozzi bought into the co-op nearly a decade ago, using the proceeds to run a semi-factory in Sydney’s Wentworthville. As property values rose, she realized that the only way she could afford to build would be to sell half of the 6,500-square-foot block.
To make home ownership there more affordable — and to encourage young people to band together and start families — the ecovillage encourages groups of unrelated adults to share plots of land.
When the Herald visited, there was a group of five who met online via Zoom. They plan to buy a block together and build a primary residence, an annex, and a tiny house.
Due to subdivision restrictions, these arrangements are made through a “co-agreement” contract.
Mozzi, for example, sold half of her property to Chris Wenban, who lives in a tiny house on top of a trailer that’s just 7.2 meters long and 2.5 meters wide.
“We each own 50 percent, but it’s not specified which 50 percent,” Mozzi said.
They garden together, grow vegetables. “We love what we’ve done,” Mozzi said.
how it started
Narara Ecovillage started with a birthday wish. When founder Lyndall Parris celebrated her 50th birthday in 1999, she asked friends to listen to her dream of creating an exciting, healthy lifestyle with a country, village atmosphere filled with fun, warmth and caring.
After two friends were widowed, Parris, who was then moving to Sydney from Cooma, wanted to find a place where she and her husband David, a former manager at AGL, could age on the spot.
“I thought if we lived in a village I could get a meal [friends in need],” She said.
Initially drawn to the idea of a supportive community, she realized that sustainability was also important.
Her home looks conventional but has hempcrete walls that insulate and breathe. The hardwood floors are a mix of those salvaged from the house she grew up in. And it was also built with the bedrooms, kitchen and living area all on one floor so the parris could age in place.
It took more than a decade of setbacks for the “pioneers” to settle in the countryside.
Due to the global financial crisis, the property was pulled from the market after the original developer went bankrupt. It was better in the end though, Parris said. They bought the property for less than the original price.
The original plan for Narara was designed by Sydney architect Philip Thalis of Hill Thalis Architecture to achieve higher density in each block than most suburbs with more green common space.
“We live fairly close together because we wanted to keep as much space open for recreation, food production and preservation as possible,” Parris said.
The greenhouse left behind by the horticultural society is used to grow food and native plants to support the village, a playground entertains children, and an old jetty has just arrived to create a swimming hole by the stream.
Almost everyone has a garden. But in Candy Disch’s Earthship home, bananas, papaya, and pineapples grow in the greenhouse that serves as a corridor along the north wall of her home.
The two bedroom house was designed to keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer – and the model has been kept simple to encourage others to build one too.
“It’s a perfect temperature all the time. I don’t have air conditioning or heating,” she said. “My house is 17 to 21 degrees Celsius, never more than 22 or 23,” said Disch.
The south and west walls of the house were built of straw bales on a base of 110 old tires, each of which took three wheelbarrows to fill with dirt. The front of the house is made of straw bales.
To cool the house, underground pipes dug 1.5 meters into the ground and run 20 meters under the length of the house draw in air and cool it. Inside, fans and tall window openings draw hot air out.
The roof on the corridor of the greenhouse is angled so that it gets the winter sun and blocks most of the summer sun.
“Plants think it’s winter in summer, and they think it’s summer and winter.”
Before deciding what to build, Disch visited New Mexico to look at hundreds of earthships being built by architect and author Mark Reynolds. He wanted to design more affordable homes using natural or repurposed materials that were not available on the market.
Earthships are also designed to be built by unskilled workers. That meant Disch’s large family, including her son Dave Tsakalakis, helped out.
Disch is committed to the ecovillage’s green principles and values, but she wouldn’t have moved there without a strong sense of community, she said.
Before moving to Narara, Disch ran many cafes. Now she runs Narara’s Cafe on Wheels, the coffee truck in front of the community meeting hall.
It is described by Parris as the heart of the village. “I want to make a contribution and still be helpful,” said Disch.
Linda Scott’s hobbit house and bamboo house
Not only is Scott building a Hobbit-style house as a second home for an art studio, her house next door is just as adventurous. It is believed to be the first planning permission in NSW for a bamboo framed and roofed house.
Scott ran a series of natural building courses that made it seem easier and less expensive than traditional approaches. Both the hobbit and bamboo houses took longer, and many features like custom windows were more expensive.
“The feedback from visitors is that they love my house. It’s like a fantasy house for many people, but they wouldn’t necessarily want to build it themselves or live in it. I just want it to be done,” Scott said.
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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/hobbit-homes-to-earthships-the-nsw-village-setting-a-green-example-for-australia-20220908-p5bgjg.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national The NSW village is setting a green example for Australia