Growing in Faith

Building a home for God’s glory, good of creation

By Deborah Guess

September 18 2017Rob Castelow, a retired priest of the Melbourne diocese, has built an ecologically sustainable house. He explained how, and why, to Deborah Guess.

It can take a massive 80 tonnes of CO2 to build even a modest two-bedroom house. In the present environmental context designing and building houses well enough to last a couple of hundred years or so has become important.

A house with a low carbon footprint can be achieved by attention to things such as the size of the house (the smaller the better), the types of materials chosen, and the way the building uses energy.

Many of these practical factors were taken into account by Rob when building a sustainable house in Pakenham, which was designed by Rob’s wife Darelle.

A former engineer who once worked at Hazelwood Power Station, Rob explained how his interest in sustainable living came from a deep appreciation of the bush which he acquired growing up in Yallourn where he “came to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of life, yet its fragility was also so apparent”.

Rob and Darelle began their project by selecting the land carefully and with ecologically sound reasons in mind. They wanted it to be close to a train line and it had to be north-facing to capture the winter sun – a classic feature of passive solar design. The house includes many other characteristics of sustainable design: air-locks at the main entrances prevent loss of warmth in winter and maintain coolness in summer; passive heating from the sun heats ceramic tiles in winter; eaves built to the right depth and angle keep the sun out in summer; minimal floor coverings improve thermal mass; all windows are double glazed, and the roof and walls are well insulated...

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