Five sustainable homes with serious wow factor

Living Well | Megan Whitfield | Posted on 10 September 2019

Five of the best open houses in Victoria to check out on Sustainable House Day. 

At first glance, bespoke architecture and low-cost living don’t seem a natural pairing. 

But Sustainable House Day on 15 September aims to challenge that notion, with more than 250 homes across the country opening their doors to visitors to showcase innovative design that is both environmentally friendly and affordable. 

It’s the biggest line-up since the first event in 2001. Donna Luckman, CEO of not-for-profit Renew which runs Sustainable House Day, says it’s about giving visitors a chance to speak to and learn from home owners as they experience the architecture first-hand. 

“People are always conscious about how to reduce their bills,” Donna says. “Sustainable House Day is a chance to see and feel what a well-insulated home, designed to reduce costs [while maintaining] comfort, actually feels like.” 

From tiny houses to volume-build homes, more than 80 Victorian properties will be open. We’ve narrowed down five of the highlights across the state.

Sustainable House in Heathmont, Victoria

The strikingly designed Heathmont House in Melbourne’s outer east.


Heathmont House, Heathmont 

Nestled in Melbourne’s outer east, the strikingly designed Heathmont House is all timber-clad angles, with four triangular sections ‘peeling’ up from the roof to create vaulted ceilings inside, and a sawtooth profile along the south-east wall to frame the views to the Dandenong Ranges. 

It pushes the boundaries of passive house design, making the most of north-east-facing highlight windows and integrating the 3kW split system into the heat recovery ventilation system to ensure even distribution and reduce the size of the split system required. 

Bookings required.

Seastar, Cape Paterson

In the gentle beach town of Cape Paterson lies Seastar, which boasts an 8.1-star energy efficiency rating. It was built using passive solar design principles and recycled glass insulation, resulting in a building that requires little energy for heating or cooling. 

The sleek design has warm timber finishes and big windows soaking up natural light, showing how design and sustainability can come together.

Interior view of Seastar, a sustainable house in Cape Paterson.
Interior view of Seastar, a sustainable house in Cape Paterson.

Seastar in Cape Paterson boasts an 8.1-star energy efficiency rating.



The Cape’s Sustainable House Festival, Cape Paterson

Seastar isn’t the only sustainable home making a mark in Cape Paterson. In fact, it’s only one building within Australia’s first truly sustainable residential project, The Cape, with 230 home sites ultimately on offer.

The Cape is so proud of their offerings they’re throwing a street party where visitors can wander through 10 unique zero-carbon homes, along with live music, free wood-fired pizza and local produce up for grabs.

Look out for the 10 Star Home, Victoria’s first home to achieve a 10-star energy-efficiency rating. All its features work together to reduce its estimated annual running cost to $3.

Green Home Build, Ringwood East

Another stand-out in Melbourne’s east, the Green Home Build was constructed using almost entirely renewable energy, down to the energy supplied for the builders’ power tools. Owners Howard and Libby Elston saw an opportunity while waiting for their solar grid to be connected, using the panels they would later install in the property to power the home’s construction.

The home uses Timbercrete blocks made from sawmill waste, and incorporates hardwood reclaimed from the dismantled original house that occupied the site, along with recycled messmate for benchtops and bathroom cabinets, and ash floorboards from a 1920s tram depot for bedroom flooring. 


The Recyclable House in Beaufort is made using almost entirely recyclable or biodegradable components.



The Recyclable House, Beaufort

This property is one of the most experimental and aesthetically unique homes open for Sustainable House Day, standing out for using components that are – you guessed it – almost entirely recyclable or biodegradable. 

The design was inspired by classic Australian corrugated steel sheds, employing a closed-loop design down to the screws and nails used to piece it together. Its one-room width enables serious cross-ventilation, and the natural materials and finishes are a bonus for those with chemical sensitivity.


Head to sustainablehouseday.com for specific opening times.