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Best Green Houses


Rugged Individualism: A rammed-earth house accommodates a farmer mentality.

Sustainable Built Environments (SBE)
April 2011

By David Sokol

Hong Kong Apartment
Photo © Rob Hamer
Click the image above to tour this month’s Best Green House.
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The Mornington Peninsula, located near the southernmost point of the Australian state Victoria, was once a place of wind-whipped cattle ranches. Now wineries account for most of the peninsula’s agricultural activity, and barn structures have been replaced by the weekend homes of upper-echelon Melburnians.

Retired headmaster Peter Wilson’s farmer ancestors owned significant property on the Mornington Peninsula, of which he inherited 31 acres. And while over the decades Wilson and his wife Michelle have witnessed the transformation of the peninsula, they have not adopted the hyper-consumptive attitude that characterizes it. Indeed, the Wilsons approached design studio Sustainable Built Environments (SBE) with “a farmer mentality—that we’ll make do with what we have,” says SBE graduate architect Bernardo Cuter. In July 2009 the Wilsons took up residence in a 2,960-square-foot house that SBE designed according to the owners’ self-sufficiency: A 10,500-gallon rainwater cistern furnishes almost all water, and the house’s superior passive-design performance is largely unaffected by exposure to the maritime climate…


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