Our Farrier Lane house is the first #TrueNetZero house in Western Australia, and just the third nationally.

What do we mean by that, exactly?

When Farrier Lane House was nearly finished in late 2022, we were thinking about how to talk about the design and construction decisions we made along the way, and the lessons that we learned about how to build a sustainable and affordable family home.

We did some research to compile and review the claims made by various “deep green” sustainable homes to see how this one fits in to the emerging field of homes that aim to reduce their environmental impact through lower embodied and operational carbon.

Many homes are net zero in operational carbon – the electricity, gas and other power sources used for appliances, hot water, heating and cooling, etc – but few have so far counted their embodied carbon, which is the energy used to make and transport the construction materials in the building.

Farrier Lane aims to reduce its environmental impact on both metrics, and its one of only a few homes to do so, yet.

Our research pointed us to the following precedents:

  1. Zero Carbon House (2013) – Australia’s first designed and built Zero Carbon Home – by TS4 (Paul Hendy) in Lochiel Park, SA.

“Overall it has been calculated that the home will become carbon neutral by 2045. In other words, all of the carbon generated creating the materials, constructing the home and the transport and shipping during this phase and all of the operational energy required to heat and cool the home will be offset by the energy exported from the solar panel installation.”

For more information see:                ZERO CARBON HOUSE — TS4 Living

and 

  1. 10-Star House aka Carbon Neutral House (2017) by Clare Cousins Architect at The Cape, Cape Patterson, Victoria

This one has achieved a NatHERS rating of 10-stars, and we read that: “Through Life Cycle Analysis by eTool, modelling shows that over the lifetime of the home, the 10 Star Home will not only negate its carbon footprint but will positively exceed it,” said The Social Weaver. 

For more information see: Clare Cousins Architects create first carbon positive home in Victoria

And then there is our house, Farrier Lane: just the third such example of a residential project that claims to be carbon neutral in both embodied and operational energy over its projected lifespan, and the first example in Western Australia.

We also found a few other “deep green” houses – such as:

  • Suho’s 10 Star Home in Edwardstown, SA;
  • Wardle Architecture’s Limestone House in Toorak, Victoria;
  • Owl Woods House by Talina Edwards Architecture (now Envirotecture) in Trentham, Victoria; and
  • The Hütt 01 Passivhaus by Melbourne Design Studios (MDS) in Coburg, Victoria.

But as far as we could tell, these houses don’t make claims about being carbon net zero in both embodied and operational carbon.

We also learned that Jeremy Spencer and Chi Lu from Positive Footprints were building a #TrueNetZero at the time of our research, and we look forward to finding out more about that one when it’s finished.

If you know of any others that might fit the bill, please get in touch and share the details with us!

Where does the term #TrueNetZero come from?

There is currently a lack of clarity around various claims related to carbon neutrality in buildings, mainly because the definitions are still being researched and developed by practitioners around the world. 

When we were researching the most appropriate terminology to describe Farrier Lane House – in late 2022 – WA-based architect Ross Donaldson was spearheading efforts to prepare an Australian standard.

See ISO standard will create guidelines for carbon-neutral buildings

A recent search at the time of writing this blog article (August 2023) indicates that an International Standard will be published in November 2023.

You can find more information about that here: ISO/FDIS 14068

So we adopted the term True Net Zero to signify that carbon emissions from embodied and operation energy would be net zero over the building’s project lifespan. In doing so, we referred to this definition:

“A true net zero carbon future is one where all new buildings, infrastructure and renovations are both net zero operational and embodied carbon, just as envisioned in The World Green Building Council’s 2050 target for the industry1.

(Source: Getting to True Net Zero Carbon in the Built Environment)

The reference in that quote is to the World Green Building Council report from 2019 – which defined Net Zero – called Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront.

See that definition on page 8 of the report, below:

https://worldgbc.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/22123951/WorldGBC_Bringing_Embodied_Carbon_Upfront.pdf

Also in 2022, at the time our initial research, Design Matters ran a national competition for teams of designers and energy assessors, called the True Zero Carbon Challenge. It required teams to design a house that would be carbon neutral in embodied and operational energy.

You can find more information about the competition here: True Zero Carbon Challenge Fee per Team

So based on all of those precedents and yet-to-emerge definitions, we opted to use the term #TrueNetZero to define our Farrier Lane House, and now you know how we arrived at the phrase.

We look forward to contributing to this ongoing and important conversation about the way we design and build – and how our decisions and choices impact the planet – in future.

And if you’re ready to explore the creation of your own #TrueNetZero House with us, please get in touch. We’re always keen to have these important discussions with our clients.