A&L appears in 9-star energy efficient display home.

When we think of ‘sustainability’, people often immediately think of the environment. While we’re proud of the environmental performance of this display home at Yarrabilba in Brisbane, the project is highly sustainable in more ways than one.

This NatHERS rated 9-star display home is highly energy-efficient, highly affordable, and even helped create jobs and opportunities for marginalised community members.

Having opened in July 2018, the 9-star display home—as rated using  NatHERS—was created for the Yarrabilba community development located south of Brisbane, which features over 17,000 homes.

NatHERS ratings use a range of measurements to determine the potential thermal comfort of Australian homes, on a scale of zero to 10 stars. Houses with higher star levels are less likely to require heating or cooling to maintain comfortable conditions; the higher the rating, the better the energy efficiency of the home and therefore the less impact on the environment through side effects caused by heating and cooling.

The project has been a highly collaborative effort and made possible thanks to a long list of contributing partners, including Lendlease Communities, Access Employment Services, and more.

We spoke with Luke Rowlinson,  an architect for the project, to find out how this incredible home came together.

The background: building for the triple bottom line

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home at Yarrabilba features innovative products and materials that decrease energy use for heating and cooling requirements dramatically, all while keeping costs down.

For Luke, the Yarrabilba sustainable display home consisted of three major considerations from the outset.

“From very early on, we wanted to impact positively on as many lives as we could.”

“We focussed on the ‘triple bottom line’, to make this project perform environmentally, financially and socially.”

“Ultimately, this home ranks highly in environmental performance, but it was critical that it ranks highly in affordability too.”

“A&L Windows came into the project because we were looking for innovation in every component of the home.”

“Anyone can throw industry-leading technology at a building and create a product that is expensive and energy efficient. But that’s never going to help the average homebuyer or create any positive impact on the wider housing market.”

“We chose A&L products to make the home as affordable as possible, but also to create something that is aspirational and beautiful, with excellent light levels, an impressive energy rating, and high-end fit and finish.”

Bedroom with large windows

Energy efficient products throughout the home

“One of the main reasons we used A&L windows in designing and developing the 9-star house is because they have quite an innovative way of doing their reveal.”

The inline reveal is one key factor in contributing to the home’s impressive energy efficiency qualities.

“The unique design of the A&L products means you get slightly higher insulation from the window, and as a result, a slightly higher energy rating for each of the windows used throughout the home.”

“With A&L windows, I’ve found that the reveal is better than anyone else in the competition. It’s a unique feature from A&L windows which is something I have always admired.”

“With the A&L inline reveal, you realistically get more of an actual window, from the same apparent opening in the wall. There is less frame exposed. The accumulative effect is that the inline reveal creates a window design which seems less obtrusive in the home.”

“The other significant factor for us is that when viewing the building from an external perspective, the A&L (flat-trim system) design meets the cladding very well. You can ultimately make the fit and finish of the window much nicer than other brands.”

Innovation off the shelf

“We used the standard, off-the-shelf A&L window to keep the price accessible to new home buyers. We’ve also got a standard A&L Sliding Door, which we used as the main door to the home because it offers a perfect level threshold and is perfect for cross ventilation.”

“What we were trying to achieve, ultimately, is an affordable house, and a house that’s affordable over the longer term thanks to the energy efficiency. But an affordable house that comes with a much better finish, or a general level of quality that is better than anyone else can make.”

“While the energy efficiency of the home ranks highly, this is still the most affordable house in the entire Yarrabilba area, which will house around 17,000 houses by the time it is completed.”

“The A&L components of this house, and their contribution, meant that we can provide all of the windows at an affordable price point for the highest energy rating possible.”

“When we talk about the performance of the windows, we were typically providing a single glazed solution throughout the home: not all windows were double glazed. It’s actually possible to achieve a 10-star rated building just by ensuring the majority of windows are an A&L double glazed window.”

Small windows bringing in light at top of room

A flourishing partnership to be proud of

The Yarrabilba sustainable home project has been a huge success, thanks to the dedication of all contributing partners and an ongoing commitment to quality across the board.

“My experience of working with A&L is that you’re not buying a window, you’re actually buying a partnership, and that’s very much a part of what made them an integral collaborator within this project.”

“This project saw us collaborating with some highly skilled builders and a lot of complex documentation to make things work.”

“One of the key drivers throughout the project was working with partners who could contribute to making the overall experience easier, and A&L Windows was certainly one of them.”

“You’re not dealing with a culture that is largely focusing on price point—even though they’re still incredibly competitive in that regard.”

“There really is a heartfelt need to make a meaningful difference, and that’s true of A&L Windows from the top down.”

Exterior of house looking down driveway

Wrapping up

Luke Rowlinson is a registered architect in Queensland, currently leading innovation with the architecture practice Wladyslaw Obod Architects and a is a founding director of Creating Positive Futures Corp (a housing company that focuses on social enterprise procurement, looking to change lives with each and every home built).

For more innovation on sustainable projects, take a look at a previous sustainable housing partnership, as featured on Healthy Homes Australia.

Or, find out more about energy efficiency ratings and requirements throughout Australia, including  the importance of WERS  codes, SHGC values and U values, and how A&L is committed to making life easy when it comes to high-quality energy efficiency.