Sustainable House Day 2014

Open the door to sustainable living by touring some of Australia’s most environmentally progressive homes on show at Sustainable House Day. This Sunday, 14th September, you have the opportunity to tour an amazing array of everyday Australian homes all built and created around the ideal of reducing their footprint on the earth.

By partaking in Sustainable House Day you can tap into local knowledge to learn how to successfully integrate renewable energy, recycling, and other sustainable practices into your home and lifestyle. This unique event is a valuable resource for anyone looking for inspiration, ideas and the key to sustainable living.

Homeowners, sponsors and local sustainable groups look forward to sharing their knowledge with you, plus I'll be volunteering at the Harrisdale home in WA for the day. There are homes and gardens open to the public throughout Australia. You can find more information about each house and its features on the webpage. This is a national event, but since I'm volunteering here in Perth, I've just highlighted a few WA ones below.

Carla & Bens House, part of #Sustainable #House Day 2014.
{Carla and Ben’s House, 128A Roseberry St, Bedford WA}


Gravity Light

I came across this project and just had to share. Sure, it's not pretty, but how innovative and what a great humanitarian effort. Well done Deciwatt and everyone that contributed through their Indiegogo campaign.

The GravityLight was the result of wanting to help solve the unreliable and unsafe lighting issue for the poverty-stricken 21% (more than 1.5 billion!) of the world's population. Deciwatt's mission is to provide affordable, sustainable and reliable light, anytime, that enables people to break free from the economic, health and environmental hazards of kerosene lamps.

The GravityLight is an innovative way of generating light and low levels of power from gravity. It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight that powers GravityLight, creating 25 minutes of light on its descent. Can be used over and over again, anytime without the need for sunshine or batteries, therefore having no running costs and being extremely long lasting.

The sustainable gravity powered #LED GravityLight by Deciwatt.
{The human-powered, Gravity-run LED GravityLight by Deciwatt. Image source}


DesignEX 13

I’m going to have to apologise again for taking so long between posts, but when you see the mountain of pics below from the show, (and I have drastically culled from those taken on the day) then you’ll understand. Celebrating 25 years of DesignEX, Melbourne hosted this trade only event for professionals working in either the architecture & design, building & construction or hotel & hospitality industries, or students of the same. But don’t dismay, I took loads (and loads and loads) of pics and can hopefully sum up the best bits for you now.

The Hives exhibition was the stand-out for me with its gorgeous collaborative pieces. “When designers, interdisciplinary practitioners and leading industrial enterprises put their heads together, the results can be exciting, unexpected and intriguing. Curator Anne Maree-Sargeant returns the popular Hives exhibit to designEX 2013 with a highly considered display of products that bring together covetable objects from visionaries and brands under the themes of Innovation and Collaboration”.

My favourite for years has been the WebLight by Design By Them (along with everything else they do!). I fell in love with the gentle image of the aptly-named wispy-looking light set amongst a bright green forrest on their webpage years ago. “WebLight is the result of an exploration into the potential possibilities of reusing plastic bags. Made from recycled content, each WebLight is individually hand made and features an intricate pattern of texture and holes that are the direct result of its unique forming process.”

Weblight by Design By Them at DesignEX13, Melbourne. More on the RSD Blog.
{Weblight by Design By Them}

Another creation I was looking forward to seeing in person was the precise Hoshigame by Artemide. Developed with Japanese fashion designer, Issey Miyake, the sustainably designed, foldable lampshade explores the intersection of creativity and mathematics.  Made from fabric derived from recycled PET bottles, “Miyake's unique folding technology allows a single piece of fabric in a flat 2D shape to be unfolded into a 3D shade of statuesque form. The structure of the recycled material, together with an additional surface treatment allows 'Hoshigame' to perfectly keep its shape without the need for an internal frame, and to be stored flat when not in use and then re-shaped when needed.” Although smaller than I expected, it was still a thing of beauty.

Hoshigame by Artemide + Issey Miyake at DesignEX13, Melbourne. More on the RSD Blog.
{Hoshigame by Artemide + Issey Miyake}

Here are a few other highlights from the Hives exhibition and lots more from the show.


Now that's efficient

Sorry for the long break. I was going to say I’ve been slack, but the reality is far from that. Blogging just happened to slide down the massive list of things-to-do over the Easter break. Hope you all had a great one and here is a cool little apartment run-through that’s worth the watch when you have a spare ten minutes. Very efficient use of space and storage through innovative design.

“Located in Barcelona's hip Born district, the tiny apartment is a remodelled pigeon loft. Christian [Schallert] says its design was inspired by the space-saving furniture aboard boats, as well as the clean lines of a small Japanese home”. I personally love that the bed slides under the balcony and converts to a step, chair or lounge. Great work by architect Barbara Appolloni. Enjoy!

xo Romona

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A Spot of Paint

I’ll take any technological advantage to convince my husband that it is not that difficult to repaint a room a new colour (or finally paint over the god-awful cream in my office-slash-laundry, the only room left to repaint). He recently came home marvelling at his great new discovery on a Bunnings trip. Paint that lets you know if you’ve missed a spot and when its ok to paint the next coat! Taubmans EasyCoat Ceiling Pink to White changes from pink to white as it dries. I’ve since found that there are a few others out there, such as Dulux NeverMiss One Coat Ceiling White so you have a few choices.

The only problem I’ve found with this is the high VOC levels, a staggering 105g/L compared to low-VOC ceiling white paints that have around 5g/L.

Since a friend asked the other day, and I realised that not everyone has a background in Architecture and Sustainability, I thought I’d share a few simple tips for paint selection. The type, that is, not the colour - thats waaay too personal and subjective and depends on soooo many factors.

Its handy to know what to ask for when you get to the paint counter. Here are a few things to look out for:

Low or No VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). I am astounded that this is not standard by now and you have to specifically look for it, but fortunately it is getting a lot easier to find. Apart from these products reducing your greenhouse footprint, they also provide instant benefits to you and your family, for example a decrease in asthmatic reactions and allergic sensitisation through less off-gassing, that nasty paint smell.

No Formaldehyde
- yes that stinky stuff that they preserve bodies with (at least they did during my former life in the medical field, but have hopefully ceased using now) and is carcinogenic as well as thought to cause allergies, headaches and numerous other health issues. This can also be found in adhesives, particleboard (like MDF), linoleum, disinfectants, and some nail polishes - eek! Best avoided.

Here are some to keep your eyes open for:
* Any Dulux paint with the Eco Choice symbol on the label is low-VOC. This includes most of their Wash & Wear wall paints, EnvirO2 and ceiling white.
* Taubmans Pure Performance with Microban is a low-VOC, mould resistant Acrylic.
* Porter's zero VOC or low VOC paints
* ecolour’s entire range
* Resene’s Environmental Choice approved paints
* Wattyl interior design i.d Paint System using Ecotint for colouring.

When in doubt, check out Ecospecifier for more responsible product selection. Greenpainters also have this (a bit long) vid that explains low VOC paints, if you want to know more.

A few cool bits of paint tech and terminology I can’t resist throwing in there:

* Thermochromic paint - Changes colour with the temperature. I think I could have endless fun pressing up against the wall like a hyper colour t-shirt.

* CoolColour - reduced Total Solar Reflectance (TSR), that is, the colours work by reflecting energy in the near and far infra red region of the spectrum even though they absorb strongly in the visible region. Put simply, dark colours reflect more light than normal but look the same, so you don’t have to stick to white for most reflectance.

* SolarPaintTM - a solar paint that may be printed onto plastic, integrated into tinted windows and other building materials, making the whole structure itself a source of power. How awesome!

And I realise I said I wouldn’t touch colours, but in honour of Christmas and the end of the year, why not have a bit of fun and paint Pantone’s colour of the year for 2013, Emerald 17-5641, somewhere in your house.

2013 Colour of the Year Pantone 17-5641 Emerald.

We are on break for a bit, so this will be my last post until the new year. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all the other reasons in the world to celebrate with family and loved ones.
Cheers and Go nuts!

xo Romona

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Sexy and Smart - LED Tech

The self-proclaimed smartest light globe in the world to date has gone viral. By the time I saw it, a few days into the Kickstarter backing process, it had already sold out. This sexy and smart product is bound to get the creative juices flowing of both designers and tech-heads alike.

LIFX is a WiFi enabled, multi-colour, energy efficient LED light bulb that you control with your smart phone. Developer’s boast “LIFX gives you unprecedented control of your lights, reduces your energy costs, lasts up to 25 years and delivers an amazing range of experiences we think you’ll love". They couldn't be more right - the response has been phenomenal. The innovative use of energy-efficient LED technology, combined with responsive smart phone tech that is so ingrained in our lifestyles now is irresistible, as evident by the amount of money raised, in such a small amount of time, from people wanting to get a hand on this new and exciting product.

Simply switch out your existing light globes and pop in these innovative new globes. Set your colour to any shade via your iPhone, to suit your mood or decor. Endless fun could be had with this feature - think of the parties, romantic evenings or even just for relaxing. With this, you are able to turn your lights on and off without getting up, or even being home - a plus when travelling. You can program the lights to a time schedule, as a wakey-wakey in the morning or to fade out slowly after an unnerving night of horror movies. I do also love the idea of a fading night light for the kiddies. An added brag, it has been designed, developed and manufactured right here in Melbourne, Australia!

I’m very impressed by the colour versatility, the programmable dimming and lighting up, not to mention being able to receive all your social media alerts with a flicker or colour change of the lights - say hello to the future! I'll take my drink in the VR room thanks, robomaid!

Unfortunately, the future doesn’t arrive until 2013 - and possibly a bit longer for those of us not lucky enough to have got in the early bidding. Maybe, with its popularity, the price can come down somewhat and it could be in stores next year.

LIFX - Visualise your music through smart phone controlled LED lighting. Read more on the RSD Blog
{Image via Kickstarter}

For a full explanation, and some cool demonstrations, watch the clip below or for more info see the LIFX or Kickstarter websites. Enjoy. 

xo Romona

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