Sustainable home in Sydney Australia

This is a good example of a sustainable home located in the middle of Australia’s largest city, Sydney. Located in Chippendale this sustainable home creates and stored its own power, water and reprocesses its sewerage.

People often think that sustainable living is very difficult to achieve in urban environments but when Michael Mobbs decided to renovate their home in 1996 they decided to invest approximately $48000 into sustainable ideas and practices for their home. By incorporating water collection, solar power, waste water processing, chickens and some vertical gardening Michael Mobbs has demonstrated that you can live sustainably in an urban environment without sacrificing your lifestyle.

Solar Power

sustainable house kitchenThe sustainable house is still connected to the grid but during the day it collects energy from the sun using solar panels on the roof, saving 8 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. The solar panels also work on another level by creating an extra layer of insulation between the panel and the roof of the house. This helps to insulate the roof and keep it cooler.

Innovative use of windows and reflective surfaces allows the inside of the home to be well lit by natural light and prevents the need for electrical lighting to be on during the day.

Water Collection

The house is not connected to mains water or sewerage. Water is collected from the roof and the house drinking water is actually cleaner than mains water. The use of self cleaning gutters limits the amount of pollution and leaves contaminating the rain water. The self cleaning gutters are also safer than the conventional gutter design, requiring less manual cleaning which means less time spent dangling over the edge of the roof. The incorporation of a dead end gutter and a float means the first initial rainwater than runs off the roof doesn’t end up in the water tank. The rain water is then stored in an underground concrete tank. Overflow from the tank is stored in a garden pond.

Waste Water Treatment

Grey water is treated in a separate tank using filter beds of sand and peat. Air is circulated through the grey water allowing bugs and worms to thrive and treat the water. Once the water has been treated by this process the recycled sewerage water is used again for toilet flushing and garden watering. Surplus water is absorbed by a small garden.

Food Production

sustainable house vertical gardenMichael has also incorporated food into his backyard to reduce the impact of food transport and waste. By growing some food and housing a couple of chicken in his backyard he has reduced his family’s reliance on transported food and food production. The small amount of outdoor area he has is maximised through using vertical gardening.


It is estimated their energy and water costs have gone from $3000 p/year to $200 per year – saving them $2800 per year.
The great thing about what Michale has done is that it is all achieved using equipment and off the shelf products that are readily available.

Further Information

Michael Mobbs has held an interest in sustainable design for over 20 years, advising about technology, design, environmental law and policy to government, the private sector and community groups. He has written a book covering his experiences called ‘Sustainable House’ which is designed for people without any engineering, building or design skills – just practical ideas and experiences that can help with your own sustainable house. Special tours of the sustainable house can be orgainsed. For more information checkout his website here:

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