In Australia, it has never been easier to live in a net-zero home. Also known as “carbon neutral homes,” pure eco-living is no longer reserved for ‘tree huggers’ that live completely off of the grid, as there are dozens of developers building sustainable houses in urban and suburban across the country.
Below, we will explore a heaping portion of Australia’s most exciting net-zero homes before looking into the components of carbon-neutral living and answering frequently asked questions about today’s most common terminology.
The Best Net Zero Home Developers in Australia
While the space is exploding, net-zero and green-star home developers are at the forefront of Australia’s eco-revolution. If you’ve dreamed about living without a carbon footprint, here are some of the best companies out there to help you achieve your goals in style:
Key facts about Stockland’s Newport community:
- A coastal community in Queensland
- Prefabricated homes, custom builds, and land available
- Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) – 5 Star Green Star Community
Out on the Redcliffe Peninsula, about 38 kilometers from Brisbane in Queensland, Newport is an earth-friendly community brought to us by Stockland, a residential real estate developer serving Australia for over 70 years. After receiving its 5-star green star community rating in 2016, the development has been one of Australia’s most sought-after residential areas.
Around its Green Star-certified homes, Stockland features a 2.9-hectare eco-corridor and a 23-hectare lake, where residents can enjoy motorized boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and more. The community is rated as safe, great for families, and has been recognized for its livability and potential resident prosperity.
And while Stockland is not technically net-zero quite yet, the company’s accelerated carbon-neutral goals are projecting total emission offsets by 2028. To reach this goal, the community will continue to rollout electrification infrastructure alongside renewable energy development and other unique sustainability efforts.
What to know about Mirvac:
- Australia’s first net-positive residential developer
- Many existing properties to choose from
- Purchasing, rental, and build to rent options
Since 2002, Mirvac has been developing residential and commercial buildings in Australia with the planet in mind. With an average 3-Star Green Star Performance Rating across over 40 developments in their portfolio, Mirvac has a lot to choose from in finding the perfect property.
Best of all, in 2022, Mirvac reached its net positive target way ahead of schedule, meaning it’s not only a carbon-neutral developer, but it actually has a negative emissions footprint. Mirvac is Australia’s first property development company to reach this ambitious goal, which was originally set for 2030.
Following its achievement as net carbon positive, Mirvac also plans to be net water positive and zero waste by the end of the decade. In addition to offering a unique build-to-rent option, Mirvac also has a large existing collection of homes, apartments, townhouses, and land for sale and lease.
Introducing Metricon display homes:
- Fully contained net-zero living facility
- Energy-efficient design with airtight insulation
- Solar PV and solar hot water systems included
While many large developers can offer a completely carbon neutral living space within a community that uses shared resources, there are some builders that can help you secure an independently net-zero home. Based in Victoria, Metricon has introduced a completely net-zero home design called the “Delta 29MR.”
At an estimated going rate of $364,265 as displayed, the 232 square meter home is projected to save Australians an average of $1,522 on energy costs every single year. The home has a 6.6 stars NatHERS rating and a Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard of 7.
Designed to be south-facing, the timber-framed homes include energy-efficient light bulbs, double glass windows, and plenty of insulation. Powered by a 6kW PV system and a gas-boosted Chromagen solar hot water system, the future of Metricon has been gathering attention since its debut Delta model in late 2020.
What to love about the Newlyn at Ginninderry:
- Brought to you by a longstanding local builder
- A great option for large families and dual occupancy
- Net-zero energy home within Canberra’s 6-Star Green Community
On the outskirts of the growing city of Canberra, the Newlyn model from Rawon Homes offers a zero energy lifestyle in the community of Ginninderry. Recognized as the newest frontier in housing development, Ginnniderrry’s impact on the local environment has raised some local controversy, which makes builders much more inclined to develop with sustainability in mind.
As one of the leading home builders in NSW and the ACT, the Rawson Homes Newlyn model is the answer to modern living with practical design. While the brickwork, cladding, and wooden beams look great, the spacious interior shows us that you don’t have to sacrifice building size when developing sustainable homes.
With five bedrooms, a garage, and plenty of other living space, each home comes with a net-zero energy rating within the 6 Star Green Community at Ginninderry. The community is also filled with many other land and home design options in Ginninderry, Strathnairn, Macnamara, and other new, nearby developments.
What to know about Ingenia:
- Affordable residential housing for Australian seniors
- Growing luxury travel accommodation developers
- Large, investment-backed efforts to achieve net-zero
Primarily serving the retirement and holiday housing markets, Ingenia Communities house over 7,000 Australians with affordable prices and the planet in mind. As one of the leading developers of independent senior living homes in Australia, Ingenia helps those later in life live comfortably in urban and coastal areas throughout Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria.
After a $75 million investment from Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), Ingenia communities are now on their way to complete decarbonization. Rolled out across over two dozen separate properties, the developers are installing PV solar and storage that is expected to save the communities hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on energy expenses.
Currently advertised as “Eco-pods,” Igenia’s holiday tourism sector is also seeing a bit of a green revolution. The passive houses are now installed at their Byron Bay holiday park with the help of Gold Coast locals ModsnPods.
With their toes in a few separate industries, Ingenia is one of the most exciting eco-builders to watch over this next decade. The company will be building its first 30 certified Green Star Homes at the Ingenia Plantations community in Woolgoolga, NSW.
Fast facts about Chatham Homes
- Fully customizable homes with a modern feel
- Knock-down rebuild and wide installation range
- Piloting GBCA’s Green Star Certified program
For another eco-builder with a lot of flexibility, Chatham Homes develops custom living spaces for Australians in Melbourne, Geelong, Surfcoast, Ballarat, and beyond. With one-storey and two-storey options, prospective customers can choose from a wide range of home styles, shapes, and sizes with all of the necessary upgrades to live comfortably.
Designed for minimal energy consumption and temperature stability, Chatam’s sustainable custom homes are built with energy-efficient and eco-friendly building materials and outfitted with appliances to match. The developer is a good choice for Australians seeking a knock-down rebuild option on their own existing parcel of land.
Chatham Homes is now a proud part of the Green Building Council of Australia’s efforts to build a zero-energy future. Over the next few years, Aussies should be on the lookout for Chatham Homes’ Green Star Certified models to be commercially available.
Landcom – Green Square Town Centre
What Landcom is building:
- Planned to be an entertainment and cultural hotspot
- Easy connection to Sydney and other NSW destinations
- Former industrial land transforming into a village of the future
Finally, recognized as one of the most significant urban renewal projects Down Under, Green Square Town Centre is NSW’s most exciting new property development. Now in partnership with our friends Mirvac mentioned above, the sustainable and affordable community developer Landcom has been working with the City of Sydney to create Green Square Town Centre since 1996.
So what makes Green Square so green? Well, it has a 6 Star Green Star Communities rating from the Green Building Council of Australia and is being built with a sustainable future in mind. In addition to energy-efficient homes and buildings, Town Centre connects people to a sustainable overall lifestyle with bikeways, walkways, and easy access to shared public transportation.
As one of the fastest-growing communities in NSW, Green Square Town Centre expects to have 30,000 new residential dwellings created by 2030. To follow along at home, the City of Sydney maintains an interactive Green Square construction map to connect spectators and future residents with the project.
Things to Consider when Buying a Net Zero Home
When buying a net-zero home in Australia, there are a handful of things that need to be considered in finding the perfect living space. While you’ll obviously have to think about all of the ordinary property search variables (i.e. number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc), net-zero living brings a few unique elements in the decision making.
Net-zero homes vs. carbon-neutral communities
If you’d like to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle, there are essentially two ways to achieve it: 1. On your own or 2. Within a community. In this article, we featured both net-zero home builders and community developers to help a wide range of people achieve a green lifestyle.
With an existing plot of land already purchased, Aussies anywhere in the country can now find an eco-home builder to help lower their energy use and expenses. In the dense and growing cities Down Under, however, the country’s newest Green Star communities are a great way to live comfortably without the carbon guilt.
Even more so, by pulling together shared resources, Australia’s net-zero communities are much more likely to be net-positive, while standalone homes are generally designed to consume and use the same amount of energy. Within a Green Star Community, rental options are also usually available.
Inside and out, amenities are also extremely important in finding the right net-zero home. While independently operated houses may have you sacrificing certain luxuries to achieve net-zero, large green communities are more likely to have bonus amenities like nearby parks, event spaces, and connections with local transportation.
On a home, net carbon living is almost always paired with PV solar. WIth a battery-backed system, residents can gain even more grid independence, and water heating systems can also utilize solar hot water or heat pump technology to stay green across the board. Beyond carbon itself, many of today’s net-zero homes also have water-saving features and other sustainably minded extras.
While fortifying for the future, Australians should also keep in mind their electricity use for years to come. If an electric vehicle is a real possibility, homeowners will want to ensure that their net-zero home will have enough electricity to provide an efficient charge. Thankfully, in urban developments, more and more EV chargers are being utilized to support widespread electrification.
Frequently Asked Questions about Net Zero Homes
Finally, if you’re still scratching your head about how net-zero homes really work, below, we’ll take a look at some answers to the most frequently asked questions on the subject.
Are net-zero homes worth it?
Yes, although they may be a bit more expensive than an ordinary house, net-zero homes are 100% worth it both for your budget and the planet. With efforts to reduce carbon emissions and increase sustainability, net-zero homes minimize energy use and create a better future for the next generation.
In terms of everyday living, net-zero homes are designed to save owners money on monthly and annual expenses. From lower water bills to virtually extinct electricity charges, net-zero homes are an investment in the future in more ways than one.
What is the difference between a passive house and Net Zero?
While the terms are very similar and often used together, there are a few key differences between a passive house and a net-zero home. A passive house is designed to use as little energy as possible, to be completely independent, and run on its own systems. To achieve this, a passive home utilizes smart building materials and design, insulation, and other sustainable practices.
On the other hand, a net-zero home is any building that produces as much energy as it uses. Passive homes can often achieve net-zero, but net-zero homes can also be located within a large community or collective energy grid.
What are the components of a net-zero energy house?
Except when they are being built by the same developer side-by-side, there is no “standard” net-zero energy house design or list of components. However, there are a few main principles that most net-zero energy homes and communities share. They are as follows:
- Alternative energy source – Like PV solar, wind, or heat pumps
- Passive building design – constructed to keep interior temperatures stable
- Energy-efficiency efforts – such as a high-performance building envelop and smart appliances that reduce overall consumption
How does a building become net-zero?
A building officially becomes net-zero when it consumes the same amount of energy that it produces. While “net-zero” is most often used to describe energy neutrality, buildings can also become “net-zero” for water consumption with rainwater harvesting and other conservation techniques.
If you’re attempting to retrofit your building to become net carbon zero, conscious efforts should be made to increase energy efficiency wherever possible. Once this has been completed, home and owner builders should then seek out on-site or virtual renewable energy production to achieve an overall net-zero rating.
What is a Green Star rating?
Green Stars are an internationally-recognized Australian sustainability rating and certification system pioneered by the Green Building Council of Australia. There are a few different kinds of Green Star ratings including those eligible for single-family homes, shared occupancy buildings, and communities alike.
Eligible buildings will receive a 4, 5, or 6 Green Star rating depending on a wide set of criteria. Beyond the efficient use of energy, water, and waste systems, highly rated Green Star Homes and Communities are evaluated on the buildings’ and developments’ overall environmental and social impact for years to come.
What is a NABERS rating?
Separate from Green Star ratings, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (or NABERS) is also used to help sustainably develop large shared spaces. Primarily, NABERS ratings are used as a sort of “green energy certificate” for developments like shopping centers, office buildings, and other large commercial spaces.
Like the Green Star system, NABERS ratings are given on a 6 point scale and account for things like energy, water, waste, and interior spaces. Awarded by independent assessors and audited by local governments, NABERS ratings can also be trusted alongside net-zero and Green Star certifications for sustainable living.
Ultimately, over the past 20 years, Australians have made a large amount of impressive efforts to lead a more suitable future of living. With so many new and existing Green Star homes and communities on the way, it has never been easier for Austiralsn to move into a net-zero environment.
On your way to achieving net-zero on your own? We’d love to help you get there. Feel free to check out all of our guides on eco-conscious home upgrades that are available in Australia today.