ReNew Issue 132

Building materials special

In this issue, we go a little bit Sanctuary, with our theme of building materials! We consider the many approaches to building walls and explore innovative new building materials, such as the solar windows featured on our cover. We also look at guides to sourcing sustainable materials, designing buildings that last, thermal mass in action, using SIPs in a build and just what is life cycle analysis. Plus we cover adding batteries to grid-connected solar, a sustainable farm conversion, collaboration in building design, the ever-expanding world of community energy, a DIY roof heat capture system, a micro-hydro buyers guide and much more!

Issue Contents:

Issue 132 is hot off the press and full of advice for your sustainable home this winter. As always, ReNew comes overflowing with articles to satisfy both the technically and the not-so-technically minded. Regardless of whether your interest is sustainable building, batteries for on-grid or off-grid systems, organic farming or DIY heating systems, there is something for everyone in this issue.

ReNew 132 has ‘building materials’ as its focus. Inside you’ll find:

Special feature: building materials

Bricks, blocks and panels

What’s in a wall? Lance Turner takes us on a quick tour of the different systems, materials and their sustainability credentials. Case studies highlight some real-life applications.

Mullum Creek: building guides

This project is forging a new path in residential development. Eva Matthews explores the project and the materials guides developed to help owners meet important sustainability criteria.

SIPs in the tropics

With thoughtful design, it is possible to live sustainably and comfortably in the rainforest. Paul Michna describes his ‘trapezoidal mountain habitat’, built from structural insulated panels.

Mass effect

Alan Pears untangles the messy realities of thermal mass.

Designed to last

What would our houses look like if we designed them to last 100 years, or longer? Ande Bunbury, designer of the award-winning Double Century House concept, examines the issues.

Emerging materials: more than brick veneer

Lance Turner explores the ever-evolving world of building materials: what’s new and what’s on the horizon.


Go with the flow: micro-hydro buyers guide

Lance Turner looks at what’s available and what to consider in setting up a micro-hydro system.

Other Features

Going hybrid: solar + storage

Andrew Reddaway explores the options for adding batteries to grid-connected solar.

Farming renewably

David Hamilton explains his farm’s conversion to sustainable farming that’s also commercially viable.

Many hands make light work

The Green Swing sustainable developers discuss the value and process of collaboration.

Local, clean, green

Ashleigh McMillan fills us in on some of the latest community energy projects driving change in Australia’s renewable energy mix.

The Pears Report: The policy bizarre

Is Australian energy and climate policy beyond rational discussion? Alan Pears reviews recent developments and presents his recipe to improve the effectiveness of appliance Star ratings.

Member profile: Shaping the built environment

Long-time ATA fan and more recent member Natasha Palich discusses her combined passion for architecture and advocacy with Eva Matthews.

Book review

Review by Alan Pears of Global Warming and Climate Change: what Australia knew and buried…then reframed a new reality for the public by Maria Taylor.


Cooking challenge

ReNew asked readers to share how they reduce energy use in the kitchen. Get some inspiration from these ideas!

Low-cost solar heating

After reading an article in ReNew, Alan Cotterill decided to design a closed-loop heat exchange system to supplement his home’s heating with free heat from the roof cavity. A couple of iterations later, he describes the resulting effective system.

Resurrecting discarded power tools

Julian Edgar shows us how to assemble a recycled electric power drill for nearly nothing.