Green design

Fun with thermal cameras, or how you can see your design's insulation performance.. by Julian Rutt

Early in the summer, I had the chance of running a thermal imaging camera through one of the Billabong Houses, to 'view' the thermal range within the internal spaces and across different components of the house, eg the walls, glazing, frames etc.

After the some initial amusement from its resemblance to The Predator's heat-vision of its victims (from the 1980s movie of the same name) you can see how the camera allows you to view the range of temperatures in the frame; the highest temperature (HI) and the general range colour coded.

These images below (from friend Scott who hired the camera to test on his new eco-home) show where ceiling insulation was detected missing there, the last image around a light fitting.

The following are some images taken within the Billabong House with a regular photo beside it for orientation. In the first example notice how the heat outside is visible through the half open door and how the 'Low-E' glazing cuts out transmission of the infra-red heat to inside.

The next image of the lounge room shows the narrow temperature range inside, the window locations being easily distinguishable.

Here the positions of the timber studs are clearly visible behind the wall face - no missing insulation here! Again, the roof windows showing only minor variation in temperature from the surrounding surfaces.

The final image is of a detail of the green wall adjacent the deck area - a much larger temperature range is detected, but interesting of note that the vegetation of the partly grown green wall is shown to be significantly cooler than the surrounding surfaces; this will have some effect on cooling the local micro climate to an area with doors and a large area of glazing and will continue to improve as the green wall gets covered and the vines on the pergola over continue to grow.

Greenwall thermal

Talk at the Alternative Technology Association, Monday 16th March by Julian Rutt

Long time between updates!

This coming Monday I'll be giving a presentation at the Adelaide branch of the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) about sustainability, architecture and the Billabong Houses, and I promise to keep it upbeat and entertaining given no one likes a lecture!

The ATA describe themselves as "...a not-for-profit organisation that exists to connect, inspire and assist people to make sustainable choices in the homes and communities" by providing an advice service to its 5600 members and consultants to the public, organising / co-running the hugely successful national events Sustainable House Day and Speed-Date a Sustainable Designer (both of which I have participated in), engage in research and advocacy for the sustainability sector, provide access to discounted sustainability-related products and services as well as publish the sustainable architecture and design magazine Sanctuary and Renew which deals with some of the more technical aspects and developments in sustainability and the reduction of waste, energy and water consumption.

The Adelaide branch meets monthly with presentations on a range of topics including sustainable design, developments in sustainable products with a Q&A session, with meetings open to the public.

See more on the ATA and its many benefits here and event details for Monday night HERE.

You wouldn't use a Hair dresser for heart surgery... by Julian Rutt

 ... so when it comes to renovating Ask an Architect! (so goes the new branding for the consumer launch of Archicentre as "Ask an Architect")

While many Australians might not see themselves being able to afford an architect, the services offered by Ask An Architect / Archicentre give accessible, independent, affordable professional services to homeowners and prospective buyers alike with:

(click on the underlined links for further detail, tips, fact sheets and videos)

The new site does a great job demystifying what an architect does, what we can do with and for you including the Home renovation and design advice and design and feasibility reports. A home is for most people the single biggest investment they'll ever make and largest asset they will ever own. An architect's help and input shouldn't be seen as an additional expense, think of it instead as 'value adding', with the potential to save time, hassle and cost far beyond the initial outlay with the added benefit of optimised and customised surroundings;

Lifestyle discussion & design options

  • Advice on ways to improve your home to meet current requirements
  • Advice on options to meet your future growth and lifestyle changes
  • Advice on ways you can optimise home running costs
  • Accessibility advice
  • Making your home more sustainable
  • To renovate up, out or both
  • Value for money construction systems
  • Value for money improvements

Budgetary concerns & development alternatives

  • Is the budget enough to achieve what you want to do?
  • What budget is needed for the outcome you want?
  • Tailoring your brief (requirements) to better meet your budget
  • Do your ideas add value to your property?
  • Should you renovate, demolish and re-build or sell and buy elsewhere?
  • Understanding the controls affecting your proposed renovation or development
  • Setting realistic project time lines


Energy Efficiency Audits

Perhaps of more interest now we are into Summer, some AAA/Archicentre architects can provide Energy Efficiency Audits of an existing home / building as well as the drawings and schedules of a proposed home or building, reviewing;

  • The site, orientation, landscaping and specific climatic factors
  • Internal layout and zoning in relation to orientation
  • Internal and external materials, insulation and shading
  • Orientation related to size and proportion of openings and glazing types
  • Heating and cooling, lighting, appliances and water heating
  • Building fixtures and components and items affecting comfort or efficiency
  • Renewable energy options and feasibility
  • Options for rain water harvest, storage and reuse
  • Options for grey/waste water use on site
  • Water related fixtures and appliances
  • And considering this with both aesthetics and costs in mind and appropriate as to whether an urban or rural property

While many of these energy and environmental issues are best addressed as early as possible in a new design project, a proposed project's drawing review prior to seeking Building Rules Consent against the National Construction Code is just as useful as making changes to an existing building to try to cut down ongoing energy and water consumption - especially as we can expect significant energy and water price rises in coming years with has the potential to pay for itself many times over. Design and architecture/building sustainability audits are a service that Julian Rutt and Lumen are particularly qualified to provide.


The new Ask An Architect site is also very useful for its;

  • Active, extensive Q&A section on practical, design and budgetary issues
  • News regarding public events and seminars
  • Tips, fact sheets and short videos
  • Details on the inspection types available for those undertaking developments, needing termite inspections or wishing to get an independent review the work of their home builder

Again, many many more details on the full level of services on the website. As an AskAnArchitect/Archicentre service architect, I was required to undertake an additional training and accreditation process on top of the many years it takes to become a registered architect to be able to provide these services. I've got to say that this new site is vastly improved to get around around and find information easily, its definitely worth having a look through early on and should help ease any concerns and fill in some blanks on what we do and how to get started.

And hey, they're even using one of my designs & interior photos on their landing page!

Adelaide Sustainable Building Network talk + SHD '14 by Julian Rutt

I have the honour of presenting at the next of the Adelaide Sustainable Building Network's 'Spotlight' series events; The Eco Build Experience, specifically regarding my experience during the design process and build of the Billabong Houses. Co presenting will be Terry Dolman who is a lecturer at TAFE in the school of Building, Design & Drafting and has his own project underway.

Registration, presenter & event details here:

It's being held at the Institute of Architects SA office, 100 Flinders Street, Adelaide, from 6:30 pm on Wednesday 27th August, with a Q&A session following the presentations.

The ASBN on Facebook here:

And a video archive of many previous ASBN talks can be found here:


In related news, one of the Billabong Houses will again be open for tours on Sustainable House Day, in early September. A quick link is here, though there will be another post about this closer to the date(s):

ASBN Flyer

ASBN Flyer

The Adelaide Sustainable Building Network is a small, locally based, not-for profit business group with the aim of connecting professionals and community members passionate about building sustainable living environments. Our organization aims to connect many different fields and branches of society.  This exposure to other local professionals and community members is what we believe will foster collaboration between businesses, other organizations, and individuals to make a sustainable future a reality.