Beautiful, Sustainable Building Design

Little Pot of Gold

Created for the Design Matters National True Zero Carbon Challenge competition with our colleagues at Talina Edwards Architecture and Detail Green, this design looks deeply into the health, comfort and carbon impact of single family homes in Australia and finds our nation lacking!

We designed one home (the “Little Pot of Gold”) in every State capital, built four different ways to show the interactions between health, comfort and carbon impacts. The premise was to explore if True-Net-Zero was possible, or was it just a fairytale?

Project Details

Three versions designed to the international Passivhaus standard and one optimised for the local NatHERS (National Home Energy Rating System); with the Passivhaus options deliberately modelled with varying levels of upfront/embodied/‘here and now’ carbon.

The full designs, details and data can be found on its own website here along with a lovely story explaining its origins.


We presented our Little Pot of Gold findings in a keynote at the 2023 South Pacific Passive House conference, and did an encore performance for Builders Declare which was recorded and can be watched here too:


The key takeaways are:

• Any carbon reduction trajectory based upon our current regulatory system is at serious risk of underdelivering.

• The current NatHERS systems favours high upfront carbon buildings with longer carbon payback periods

• We’re stuffed if we don’t change very soon!

• Passivhaus is an accurate and reliable global standard

• NatHERS is no guarantee of a comfortable, healthy home

• Poorer performance can be offset more photovoltaic panels however this increases upfront carbon

• Offsetting is not the answer. #efficiencyfirst is key – with proven performance of a home that is lower in operational-energy and lower in embodied-energy

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