CASE STUDY – Athel Road, Woodlands

Athel Rd Sustainable Home Design Woodlands

CASE STUDY – Athel Road, Woodlands

Designed and built by Custom Green, the Athel Road residence will bring together style and clever passive solar and energy efficient solutions for a multi-generational family.

About the Client – Our Brief

Custom Green was approached by our clients in mid-April 2016 with a brief to design a home that was to cater for a family of 3 generations. Being a larger 2 storey home of 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 3 living areas, there was a need for utilizing the whole of the block, allowing ample private space internally as well as externally with big open plan areas where the whole family can congregate comfortably. The idea is that this family will spend the next 15 years in the home, seeing their children grow up here.

The Challenges & The Solutions

The block is a larger sized, suburban lot on a gentle slope with sandy soil. The suburb of Woodlands is in the close vicinity of the Perth CBD and is an older, well established and treed suburb by the edge of a lake and is sprinkled with café’s and shops.

Passive solar design, insulation, thermal mass & materials selection – Custom Green is committed to actively pursuing sustainable practices to the way we design and develop eco homes in our communities. To this end, we have chosen mainstream, cost effective materials such as a fly-ash filled concrete slab on ground with insulated double brickwork to both the ground floor and the upper floor external walls. The thermal mass will help offset heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. The upper floor sits securely on a suspended, in situ poured concrete slab. The cooling afternoon breezes, also known around Perth as “the Freo Doctor”, will help cool the thermal mass on both floors from the heat that slowly will accumulate inside of the home throughout the day during Perth’s warm summers.

With an energy rating of 7.7 stars, in this case, single, clear glass will be used throughout the home and importantly so for the northern aspect of the living to maximise the solar ingress in winter. The glazing throughout has been located to connect the whole of the block visually. As such, it is important that the openings will be protected internally as well as externally by various means applicable to each of the locations of the openings, taking into consideration how they will operate throughout the year. The exposed concrete floor in the living area and hallway will help keep the home cool in summer and alternatively the concrete in the living area will help maintain comfortable temperatures in winter.

The door linking the hallway and living will have a significant bearing on the home’s passive solar performance as it isolates the stairwell from the living space. Keeping the door closed in winter will prevent heat disappearing up the stairs, whilst keeping the door open in summer will help flush the heat up and out through the windows on the upper floor.

The internal courtyard behind the garage was designed to provide solar ingress to the open plan living area in winter but also to be a focal feature of the home. Our clients will plant a mature deciduous tree in the middle to allow shade in summer for the living as well as the exposed hallway.

Perth is experiencing localised warming due to a lack of trees and large amounts of paved and dark-coloured surfaces, which has led to the so-called ‘urban heat island’ effect. With this in mind, the Athel Road property has been designed with a steel roof cover instead of tiles. Just like a clay pot keeps baking after it has been taken out of the oven, a tiled roof will continue to radiate heat hours after the sun has set. The steel roof cover will cool down as soon as the sun sets, instead of adding heat load to the roof volume and the surrounds like a tiled roof would. We have nominated R4.0 ceiling insulation in the roof as well as Anticon under the roof cover for extra protection.

Energy efficiency – a photo voltaic system with a storage battery will be added to the roof in the future. For water heating a heat pump will be installed to cater for the bathrooms. For efficiency, an instantaneous gas water heater will cater for the kitchen area due to the distance between the wet areas.

Universal access – the home has been designed with recessed door sills as well as wider doors and passageways in strategical locations which will allow for independent living for the older generation. The decision was made early on by our clients to keep the ground floor slab to the same level. On this sloping block it meant that we had to build up the rear of the home with dropped footings. The result is a ground floor that is fully accessible for the whole family, everybody can operate the home independently and with ease.

Health & wellbeing – consideration has been given to minimise VOC off-gassing by using low to no VOC paints and furnishings, to create a healthy living environment. Floors in the hallway and living areas will be kept as bare, lightly polished and sealed concrete floors, reducing building materials and toxic glues.

Athel Rd Woodlands Sustainable Home Design Plans Perth


The owners of Athel Road came to us with a strong sense of what they wanted to achieve with this home. The result was a brief that was easy to follow. Apart from giving our clients what they wanted in terms of layouts and locations of spaces, our focus was to provide a year-round comfortable home that our clients will love living in.

The design and planning of this home has been an enjoyable process for everyone involved, and together with the client’s decisiveness we aim to have them living in their finished home well before Christmas 2018.

For advice on how to get started on your sustainable dream home, contact the Custom Green team on (08) 9479 6828.