About

Hello and Guten Tag,

My name is Simone and I’m the owner, founder and certified passive house designer at Gruen Eco Design.

I’ve always been passionate about sustainability and our environment. I’m a little bit of a hippie at heart.

Growing up in Germany I would watch nature documentaries with my mum. I couldn’t understand how people could be so wasteful of energy or water. Or how anyone could harm our planet, the earth or the animals.  

The PassiveHaus movement started in Germany in 1990. So, energy efficient design was a big part of my architectural studies.

On moving to Australia in 2007, I was shocked at how cold our rental place got. People kept telling me that you don’t need double glazing in Australia. But I wasn’t buying it.

Something was just not right. I felt it was my mission to educate people about the benefits of the German way of designing and building homes. I felt the industry needed a shake up and I was game to question how building was done here.

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Over the years I’ve designed over 300 homes for Australian clients.

I’ve helped them achieve their comfortable and energy efficient dream homes. By creating spaces that are safe, resilient and unique to their individual needs.

The most important thing for me is that the home is as energy efficient as possible and is within the client’s budget. It is more important that the build is affordable and exactly what the client needs then coming up with an extraordinary design that could win awards but would break the bank.

Don’t get me wrong, I love, love a beautiful design. And we’re designing beautiful homes. Yet, when building on a budget, you must pick and choose your features. Not everything can be a feature. You must use as much off-the shelf products and materials as possible and concentrate on a few wow factors. Otherwise a budget can blow out.

Even a million-dollar budget can jump to 1.2 Million in a heartbeat.

For instance, changing Caesar stone to natural stone? Sure, no problem. But this can add $20,000 – $50,000 to your build cost…

Small decisions can have a huge impact on the build cost. 

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However, nothing makes me happier than getting a call from a former client. Or even an email from someone who followed our blog post. Telling me how well their home performs. What a difference it has made.

This is why I started this journey in the first place. To help others live a more sustainable life.

I’m passionate about sustainable design. Because sustainable design can and must be affordable for everyone. As a matter of course this needs to be integrated throughout the whole design process. Rather than designing something and trying to make it sustainable later.

Our mission is to make energy efficient homes a staple in the Australian landscape. Everyone should have the right to live in a comfortable house that does not cost the earth!

I surround myself with a great team and consultants who have the same goal. We also team up with great builders. Right from the design through to the construction documentation.

Making sure that our designs are beautiful and energy efficient, but also affordable.

 

 When it comes to building an energy efficient and healthy home, there is no way around the passive house standard.

If you haven’t heard about it yet. I can recommend watching this video on YouTube called Passive House in 90 seconds.

Once you’ve looked into it, there is almost no turning back. It makes so much sense and you will wonder why everyone is not building to PassiveHaus standards.

Most of our current projects are passive houses. Some of them going for certification, others following the same passive house principles.

But we are also doing some small renovations and retro fits and town house developments. 

No matter how big or small a budget, you can always improve the efficiency of any home.

We always try to incorporate as much of the good things into each project as we can. We go as far as the budget allows. 

As you’ve gathered by now: Affordability is important for us.

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We know that building a new home or doing an extension can be daunting. It can be scary to sign up a designer or builder.

Because you don’t want to end up paying lots of money in fees to find out that what you want is way above your budget.

Over the years I’ve spoken with so many families who wanted to build their dream home or do an extension. But they were too scared that they couldn’t afford what they wanted to achieve.  

Keeping them stuck in limbo, often for years.  

To overcome this uncertainty and give you some peace of mind we now offer a Feasibility Design Review.

We first prepare some simple concept sketches. According to your needs and requirements.  

We then get estimates from a few builders or from an estimator.

Once we have feedback about the potential build cost, we come up with a masterplan. 
A summary of the things you can achieve, in cooperation with you. A rough sketch and scope of works on what you can do within your budget. Before embarking on the full design and build journey.

This process ensures you can afford your dream home. Instead of wasting money and time. Only to find out after the tender process that you can’t afford your home.

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My family is also on our own journey to building a passive house / our family home.

We call it The 20/20 House.
I’ve started a blog post, so you can follow 
along.

Please check out my latest posts below.

The 20/20 House Part 23 – Covid & Other Disruptions

The Gruen Eco Design blog about how to convert your dream of an energy efficient home into a reality. Just when we Melbournians thought we were through the worst of it and life was resembling some kind of normal, we find ourselves back in lockdown 2.0.  Our Gruen Team...

Because I’m going through the motions myself, I get it. Designing and building your home can be very overwhelming and scary at times.

So, I hope this can inspire you, while informing you of the highs and lows of building your dream home. 

When you have a look at our own home and our project page you can see a wide variety of projects and styles.  

We have come up with lots of different solutions and designs. Depending on your individual tastes. Ultra-modern, Hampton Style, Eco-Shacks. You name it.  

Because we believe in design flexibility. No matter what style or finish you are after. We can handle any style and turn it into an energy efficient, sustainable and healthy home.

We are here to help guide you through the building maze. To make sure your design is not only beautiful and energy efficient but also affordable. 

We would love to do the same for you. 

Do you want to get started with your dream home?

Or do you want to know more about our design philosophy? Want to have a chat about whether we can help you to achieve your dream home?  

Please follow the link below and book in a Free Discovery Session with me. (valued at $150). 

Would love to hear from you.

book in a free discovery session

Simone Schenkel, Degreed Engineer (Architecture), Germany
Diplom Ingenieur Architektur

dipl ing (eng + arch) Germany

Certified Passive House Designer
Registered Building Designer with the Building Commission
Registered Building Designer with BDAV Victoria

Australian Passive House Association Member

Our Team

OUR COMPANY VALUES ARE:

We are passionate about Sustainable Design.

We love what we do. We are creative and embrace a design challenge.

There is always a way, you justhave tofind it.

We are innovative and embrace new ideas and philosophies.

We are not afraid to make mistakes, but we learn from them and grow.

We don’t need to know everything, but we must know where to find the answer or who to ask for help.

We focus on the client’s design brief and budget constrains and involve them in the design process.

We are family.

We are making a positive impact on the environment.

Our Gruen Eco Design team at the BDAV Awards night

AWARDS

Media

 

Build Architecture Awards 2020 – Passive House Designer of the Year 2020

Designing the Future: Melbourne Weekly Cover Story

LEG Preis 2006: Architecture Competition

Case Study: Energy Renovation: Sanctuary Magazine issue 43

Berkley College of Music (Valencia/Spain): e-architect

Our Gruen Renovation featured by The Fifth Estate: Sustainable House Day: Comfort doesn’t have to come at a big cost

Outside the Box: An Energy Efficient Addition: Sanctuary Magazine issue 33

BDAV 10 Star Winner Announced2018 BDAV 10-Star Sustainable Design Challenge Winner Announced

The Fifth Estate: :10 star design comp winners putting sustainability theory into practice

Renovate on any budget – Sanctuary Magazine issue 46

How to avoid common sustainable design mistakes – Sanctuary Magazine issue 38

Built Environmental Awards 2019 Winners – Whitehorse News July 2019

SBS Radio German – Passionate about Sustainable Design

Avoiding the Winter Cold – Sanctuary Magazine issue 52

Winner of BDAV (Design Matters National) 10 STar Sustainable Design Challenge – Green Magazine 2018

Box Hill South Residence by Gruen Eco Design – Architectue & Design

How to avoid common sustainable design mistakes – Renew

Podcast Interview – Passive House Podcast

 

Our partners

Offering Australian householders and business, services and products to make your environment more energy efficient and sustainable.
Sustainable renovations, energy and thermal efficiency retrofitting: The Ecocraft team bring a wealth of experience in carpentry and building and a passion for ecologically responsible craftsmanship. We have sourced the best products and techniques so that you can improve the comfort and energy efficiency of your home or commercial building.
“Healthy Interiors” evolved as a consequence of a young Interior Designer mum renovating while simultaneously struggling with her childrens health issues. Pieces of a puzzle emerged over time to reveal that many of the materials and finishes used in the building industry and household practices have the potential to impact on the health of homes and the health of occupants.

reviews

Ecocraft
 Simone and the team at Gruen Eco Design are highly knowledgeable where it counts in terms of good solar passive design and the ability to achieve the highest possible star rating of 10. 

We have worked with Simone on several projects to date and she takes a very customer focused approach by engaging the client and their design brief and is happy to further develop client sketch ideas into a cohesive structure. This pared with expertise in the use of highly efficient building materials sets Gruen Eco Design apart as a unique design business. The use off 3D CAD modeling is highly effective and really helps each client to visualise their project above and beyond a standard 2D elevation. 

I have also engaged Simone for a personal project being the development two dwellings on a highly challenging sloping block in Eltham. Having tackled the challenge of driveway cut, retaining walls and dwelling orientation to follow the fall of the land as well as take advantage of the solar passive benefits of a North facing rear yard, Simone rose to the challenge and we are currently working through the complexities of planning law.

It is without hesitation that I recommend Gruen Eco Design for your new home or renovation, especially is you seek the benefits of good solar passive design, energy and thermal efficiency.

EcoMad
If your after a sustainable house both in design and materials then Gruen Eco Design will help. Really passionate and knowledgeable about homes designed to be eco-friendly. As we are an eco business who assess and retrofit existing housing stock to become energy efficient, we needed someone who was as passionate about energy efficiency as we are to look after our clients who want to build new or add extensions to their homes.

K. Lau
I can’t say enough of the quality of service and work provided by Gruen Eco Design. 

As per the name of the company, the key focus is on energy efficiency and self sustainability, without the compromising the design and your personal taste.

Gruen Eco Design is also very creative in providing solutions to the complex building designs in order to meet your requirements.

The director of the business is extremely professional and quick to answer all your questions and concerns.

I give a 5 star to this company and if we build again, without any doubt will not use any other company but Gruen Eco Design.

C. Sandford
At this stage through our project Gruen Eco Design have lived up to their high reputation. Their knowledge in thermal efficient design is what we were looking for, and we are very happy so far with their advice, design and planning. We look forward to our continued relationship as building gets underway.

Custom Home Designs
Simone and her team (at Gruen Eco Design) have been associated with and working with my company, (Custom Home Designs) for the past few years In Victoria, and in this time I have found her to be meticulous with detail, always returning emails and calls on time and assisting my clients with all facets of design and consultation work. She specializes in the best use of thermal and solar applications to help maximize the homes comfort and yet decrease the use for artificial energy into the home.
I have no hesitation in recommending Simone and her team and look forward to continuing our ongoing business association.