About Our Building Projects – A short history
Piney Lakes Environmental Education Centre
Andrew Abercromby and Mark Swann joined forces in the year 2000 and formed Consortium Builders (Builders Reg # 10779). The first of many building projects was the Piney Lakes Environmental Education Centre which was built for the City of Melville. This multi-award winning facility is a model for sustainable design and construction. It is totally “off-grid” – meaning that all power is generated on site by photo-voltaic panels and a wind turbine. Water is collected from the roof, stored in tanks, sanitised and used for drinking. Waste water is treated on site and used on the gardens.
In 2001 we formed a joint venture to design and construct a new Research and Exhibition Centre for the Environmental Technology Centre at Murdoch University.
Being a research facility we were able to incorporate many technologies new to Perth including:
- roof-sheeting with integrated photo-voltaics
- rammed earth from recycled bricks
- polished concrete with recycled commercial glass aggregate
- phase-change sub-floor heating
- grey-water system
- composting toilet
High Quality, Low Energy Homes
When Government funding for public building projects evaporated in about 2002, opportunities for new green buildings dried up. So we quickly established a reputation with some of Perth’s best architects for building high quality homes in Dalkeith, Cottesloe, Mosman Park, Peppermint Grove, etc.
Fast forward 10 years and these homes had grown from $1m builds to $5m projects taking several years to complete. We decided we wanted to focus on more modest homes designed for liveability, with low embodied energy, that we could build quickly.
Light-weight Building Projects
Our new focus means less double brick, hard-wall plaster and roof tiles.
We also used more light-weight construction and high-quality pre-fabricated elements such as;
- Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) for in-ground wall construction (with bonus insulation)
- SIPS wall and roof panels (Structural Insulated Panel Systems)
- alternatives to concrete for suspended floors
- dry-wall plastering and
- windows and doors that can be fabricated to a high standard while the walls are going up
In late 2014 we were approached as the builder of choice to help detail and construct the first ultra-low energy, high comfort “PassivHaus” in WA. This project, combined with a smaller rapid-build we were planning at the same time, brought together all our ideas, captured by our new catch-phrase…
High comfort, Low energy, Rapid construction !
The path we’d been following turns out to parallel that taken by the developers of PassivHaus; by creating a home with high insulation, tight construction and a Heat Recovery Ventilation system (or HRV), we can build a home with the highest levels of internal air quality and comfort that is also an incredibly low energy home – and it can be much quicker to build than a conventional double brick Perth home.
Read more and hear my interview about building homes with SIPs on the SIPS website.