Our mission at Gruen Eco Design 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!

 There is the idea that building an energy efficient home or a passive house is unaffordable. 

And yes, as sad as it is, most people will not be able to ever afford their own home. And many will not be able to afford a custom designed home and have to go with a volume builder. 

Which is one of the reasons why we have to educate and change the entire construction industry. To make sure all homes are built to a better standard. But that’s a subject for another day.


But, I’m a strong believer that if you have enough money to build a custom designed home: You DO have enough money to build a highly energy efficient home. Even a Passive House.

Often, when building a home, it’s the architectural features that do cost a lot of money.

 When you build a house on a budget, even more so if you are aiming for a passive house, you have to pick and choose your features. Not everything in your house can be custom built and bespoke.

This does not mean the house cannot be beautiful and look bespoke. Rather the opposite.

But you can’t have it all.

You can’t have natural stone benchtops. And curved walls. And built-in joinery everywhere. Natural stone cladding or solid stone or rammed earth walls can also cost a lot.

Nor can you have corner windows in every room. Same goes for sliding doors. When using high performing glazing a sliding door is expensive.

Of course. Your living and dining room are the most important space in your house. So, it makes sense to have some beautiful big doors here. But if you add sliding doors to every single room your window quote can go through the roof.

 You have to pick your features wisely. And be smart with your selections:

  • Standard claddings
  • Incorporate ceiling heights according to plasterboard sizes
  • Stick to simple roof forms
  • Try to avoid steel
  • Use off the shelf products wherever you can
  • Use hinged glazed doors or French doors if possible
  • Use flat pack cabinetry
  • Create multi-functional spaces (rather than having rooms you barely need)
  • Keep it simple

In theory, a passive house can cost the same or even less than a passive solar designed home.

 There are some things your passive house won’t need:

  • hydronic heating
  • evaporative cooling
  • fire place
  • ducted heating
  • split systems in every room
  • not as many openable windows (the openable part is the expensive part, so the more fixed glazing the better)

Also, when living in a passive house you won’t have any monthly bills. Or barely any.

The HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation System) only uses as much energy as a light bulb. That is all you need to keep your house comfortable.

How much money do you currently pay each month for your heating and cooling?

What could you do with this extra money per month?

Potentially extra payments towards your mortgage?

 There you go. It does not have to cost more.


If you want to know more about our approach and how we design our passive house projects, please get in touch.