While passive homes have taken a little while to get off the ground in Australia, the environmental and health benefits are there for all to see.

Pepper Tree, an addition to a brick veneer home in Wollongong by Alexander Symes Architect is one of two passive houses shortlisted for the 2022 NSW Architecture Awards. The home remains between 20-25oC all year round, ensuring mould and damp isn’t an issue.

“I can noticeably feel the difference compared with the humidity in our existing house, and just how uncomfortable it makes my breathing,” says Pepper Tree owner Adam Souter in the Sydney Morning Herald.

pepper tree alexander symes architect

Passive houses save around 90 percent of the energy of a typical home due to increased insulation and double or triple-glazed windows, which regulate temperature over the course of the year. Australian homes’ energy standards rank well below the likes of Sweden, where just three percent of deaths are attributed to excessive cold compared to Australia, where that number doubles to six.

The temperature of a passive house changes 0.6 times an hour, with a typical home’s air changing around 20 times in that period. An air conditioning unit can be run for just 60 minutes a day and keep the house cool for the remaining 23 hours.

There are 40 passive houses across Australia, with that number anticipated to increase exponentially in the coming years. One of the criticisms of passive houses is that they are isolated from weather conditions, like the breeze or the rain, and aren’t as appealing as contemporary homes. Pepper Tree’s design is a clear example of a passive house being aesthetically brilliant, almost counteracting the statement with the singular design.

Read more about Pepper Tree here.

Image: Alexander Symes Architect