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Solar key feature of Australia's carbon neutral eco-village

29th Nov 2011

The increasing costs of owning a home makes the development of Australia's first zero carbon dwelling project a cost effective housing option, according to a study backed by a state government agency.

Analysis of the proposed $100 million eco-village at Cape Paterson, Gippsland found that hundreds of thousands of dollars could be saved over a 25-year mortgage by investing in green housing.

A review by energy consultant Anthony Szatow - funded by government agency Sustainability Victoria - highlighted the decreasing cost of solar panel systems and other sustainable appliances as contributors to offsetting rising energy and water bills.

Looking to operate as a carbon neutral estate, the 220-house Cape Paterson looks to achieve a minimum 7.5 green star rating by utilising solar photovoltaic systems, high-efficiency lighting, heating and cooling as well as rainwater tanks and electric vehicles.

According to the review, this carbon-neutral approach could save an owner more than seven years and $120,000 in mortgage payments compared with a new six-star house, with savings on utility bills expecting to top $200,000 over 25 years.

Project director Brendan Condon told the Fairfax Media source that the results suggested that the shift from costs to financial benefits for green homes had been reached.

''Previously, the cost of sustainable residential development could not be justified on financial terms and buyers paid more for high standards of environmental performance," he said.

"Our study shows this is no longer the case and smart home buyers can save hundreds of thousands of dollars by investing in an eco-friendly home ...There are significant findings here that are applicable to the whole housing industry.''

According to the project's website, the eco-village will "insist on housing that is built to environmentally sustainable principles", including appropriate insulation, renewable energy, internally isolated thermal mass, low energy electrical fit-out and zoning within each house to reduce energy consumption.

The Cape Paterson project has been an ongoing battle for developers since it was announced eight years ago.

While attempting to set a new benchmark for sustainable development and architecture, it was eventually approved by state planning minister Matthew Guy in May after community concerns were addressed - including that of integration with the rest of the township.

The minister announced the eco-village would go ahead due to its "considerable merit as an exemplary example of sustainable residential development".

Construction is due to commence in early 2012.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent 

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