Marion House, developed by environmentally sustainable design and construction company Positive Footprints, has taken home a BPN Sustainability award in the category of New Single Dwelling.

The clients have previously been living in Mawson, Antarctica and wanted a house that reflected their experience in efficient resource use and which would suit their young family.

The judges praised the house for the consideration which had been taken in terms of the materials used.

"A well considered property, the designers have thought through the sustainability impact of each and every material and component in Marion House."

They added: "The project tells a good sustainability story. It is elegant with a modesty of scale; each component simply achieves what it needs to do. There’s a little bit of poetry to it.

"Importantly, the energy performance is proven with post-occupancy evidence."

The design sought to take a holistic passive solar approach utilising sunlight, natural breezes and mass stability.

The company list their top innovations as the passive evaporative cooling in living spaces, the automation which allows the house to use passive cooling strategies when the people in the house are inactive or absent. It also incorporates a permaculture garden which reduces food miles and has followed the Asthma Foundation recommendations for a healthy home.


  • The design seeks to take a holistic passive solar approach in making the most of the natural resources and energy flows available to the site. These resources were:
  • Sunlight:
  • Melbourne is a primarily heating climate.
  • Sunlight has been harnessed for:
  • Space Heating
  • The design maximises solar heat gains by placing large northern windows to bring sunlight deep into the house. Eaves allow full winter penetration but shade out the summer sun. A highly insulated building fabric then traps this heat in winter, and excludes it in summer.
  • Evacuated-tube solar hot water provides 80per cent of the hot water needs.
  • A 2.2 kilowatt panel system offsets the house’s energy use, producing more energy than used over a year.
  • Breezes have been harnessed for cooling.
  • The rear inverted veranda funnels these breezes over living spaces all aligned to this breeze path.
  • Night Purging
  • Casement windows scoop evening breezes cooling the house in summer.
  • Opening the large clerestory windows at the ceiling apex encourages warm air to rise and exit, drawing in cool air to replace it.
  • Melbourne has moderate to large diurnal temperature swings.
  • Thermal mass in the slab, enhanced by a dark polished concrete floor, moderates temperature extremes and provides a thermal reservoir for both heat retention in winter and cooling capacity in summer.
  • Flushing toilets and supplying laundry internally, and garden irrigation. Rain supplies 70 per cent of water requirements.
  • Providing bounty.
  • Irrigation from the watertank, combined with full solar access to the front garden.