In Australia, buildings are responsible for one quarter of all greenhouse gases. The Research Node for Low Carbon Living investigates new technology, systems and behaviours to help curb greenhouse gas emissions and make housing and developments environmentally friendly.

Research Projects

  • Guide to Low Carbon Households minus-thick plus-thick

    Project Title: Guide to Low Carbon Households
    Authors: Dr David Whaley, Dr Cathryn Hamilton
    Project Fact Sheet: Guide to Low Carbon Households [PDF 1MB]
    Publication: Guide to Low Carbon Households [PDF 10MB]

    The Low Carbon Households guide is one of six designed to summarise CRC LCL projects and offer best practices in various building typologies and phases of the building lifecycle. The aim was to deliver a ‘user-friendly’ guide to reduce energy usage and carbon, within all types of dwellings, such as detached homes and apartments for owners and renters, across all Australian climate zones.

    UniSA Video
  • Photovoltaic/thermal system for off-grid zero energy homes minus-thick plus-thick

    Project Title: Photovoltaic/thermal system for off-grid zero energy homes
    Research Student: Sleiman Farah
    Supervisors: Professor Wasim SamanDr David Whaley
    Publication: Farah, S., Liu, M., Saman, W. 2019 “Numerical investigation of phase change material thermal storage for space cooling”, Applied Energy, Volume 239

    The use of separate photovoltaic (PV) and thermal collectors for sufficient energy production for off-grid homes requires a large area of collectors, which increases the cost of energy supply systems and limits their implementation to locations where other sources of energy are either unavailable or expensive. The efficiency of such solar energy supply systems can be increased by integrating the PV modules with thermal collectors to form photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) collectors. This integration cools the PV cells; consequently increases the electrical efficiency and provides useful thermal energy simultaneously. Although PVT collectors can improve energy production, they have not been implemented in energy supply systems for off-grid homes. This research aims to use PVT collectors to develop an energy supply system for an off-grid home and to compare the system performance to that of separate PV and thermal collectors. This energy supply system will not only be useful for houses in remote areas but also for houses in areas where electricity grid exists, increasing the utilisation of renewable energy resources.

  • Carbon reduction from composting food waste for food production minus-thick plus-thick

    Research Student: Charles Ling
    Project Title: Carbon reductions from composting food waste for food production – modelling GHG reduction and abatement in urban recycling models
    Supervisors: Professor John BolandDr Julia Piantadosi
    Project Partner: Sustainability Victoria, Renewal SA, Melbourne Metropolitan Waste Management Group
    Project Fact Sheet:  'Transforming food ‘waste’ into compost: reducing GHGs, landfill and fertilizers'
    Project RP2019 Carbon reductions from composting food waste for food production – fitting recycling models to urban forms. [PDF 1MB] 

    Food waste constitutes roughly half of municipal waste that is landfilled. Of all the strategies for diverting food waste from landfill, composting for food production achieves the highest GHG reduction. The full project will trial and model GHG reductions of scalable, socially sustainable and economically viable ways of producing compost for local food production from precinct food waste and assess the appropriateness of composting systems for different urban precincts. The project involves the modelling of the uptake of carbon by the soil via various composting routes, and will use input-output analysis to estimate the whole of economy effects of diverting food waste through composting, quantifying the total carbon reduction including soil carbon.

    UniSA Video
  • Urban Micro Climates: Retrofitting Australian precincts for heatwave resilience minus-thick plus-thick

    Project Title: Urban Micro Climates: Retrofitting Australian precincts for heatwave resilience
    Research Student: Dr Gertrud Hatvani-Kovacs
    Supervisors: Professor John Boland
    Project Fact Sheet: Retrofitting Australian precincts for heatwave resilience [PDF 0.9MB]
    Publication: Hatvani-Kovacs, G., Belusko, M., Pockett, J., Boland, J. 2018 "Heat stress-resistant building design in the Australian context", Energy and Buildings, Volume 158

    In Australia, heatwaves are the deadliest natural hazard and a major driver of peak electricity demand. The disproportionately high peak demand due to air-conditioning increases electricity prices, causes occasional blackouts and exacerbates energy poverty.  This is further exacerbated by poor building design which can decrease household heat stress resistance.

    This paper demonstrates that the current settings in the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) does not fully encourage heat stress resistance in new homes and by allowing design trade-offs can even deliver buildings with worse heat resistance and increased reliance on air conditioning than traditional, energy-inefficient buildings.  The outcome of this research is the integration of heat stress resistance in the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme.

    UniSA Video
  • Informing the next generation residential energy assessment tools minus-thick plus-thick

    Project Title: Informing the next generation residential energy assessment tools
    Authors: Associate Professor Martin Belusko, Mr Lachlan Mudge, Dr David Whaley, Dr Rehnuma Parveen, Prof Wasim Saman
    Report: Informing the Next Generation Residential Energy Assessment Tools [PDF 7MB]

    The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme, commonly known as NatHERS, has become the predominant pathway for complying with energy efficiency requirements within the National Construction Code of Australia. Current energy efficiency regulations have remained unchanged for a decade and there is an intention to increase these requirements, through mandating a higher minimum star rating for buildings. Furthermore, existing energy efficiency regulations only cover the building envelope, through the energy needed for space heating and cooling, plus separate consideration of lighting and water heating efficiency.  The research was designed to (a) provide the evidence base for updating all the assumptions in NatHERS and provide an evidence base to support a broadening of the scope of NatHERS towards a ‘whole-of-house’ energy assessment.

    UniSA Video
  • Transition to zero carbon housing minus-thick plus-thick

    Project Title: Continuing Professional Development Module: Transition to Low Carbon Housing
    Project Leader: Dr Alemu Alemu
    Module Presentation: Continuing Professional Development Module: Transition to Low Carbon Housing [PDF 0.5MB]
    Course Registration (required)
    Online Module (course)

    This is a high quality and high impact CPD module for building designers, assessors, architects and quantity surveyors. It was initiated by Barbara Hardy Institute, UniSA STEM and CRC for Low Carbon Living, targeted at national and local participants. It provides participants with scientific knowledge and best practice cases in low energy housing design. The module is built around existing research and addressing existing industry needs.

  • Optimising thermal comfort for two and three storey residential buildings minus-thick plus-thick

    Project Title: Optimising thermal comfort for two and three storey residential buildings
    Research Student: Sormeh Sharifi
    Supervisors: Professor Wasim SamanDr Stephen Berry
    Project Partner: Renewal SA, CSIRO

    In Australia, the response to the shrinking of residential block size was going up. Two story homes have become the norm for new housing, yet there is growing evidence that residential designs do not provide adequate levels of thermal comfort, particularly in upstairs zones. Monitored data from Lochiel Park has found that zones on the second floor are significantly warmer in summer as compared to the lower level, and beyond reasonable levels of thermal comfort as defined by ASHRAE Standards. This heightened level of discomfort is increasing the need for air-conditioning and associated energy costs, with further impacts on peak energy loads and anthropogenic climate change.

    The project aims to identify cost effective architectural and technological solutions to optimise temperature distribution and comfort for two-story detached/attached homes or apartment buildings. Drawing on monitored data to establish a detailed energy model of household thermal comfort, and local construction cost data, this project will develop strategies that can be readily implemented by the Australian housing industry. The thermal comfort model will be generated using an enhanced version of CSIRO’s AccuRate software, which will facilitate the examination of various mechanical ventilation devices and design strategies not currently available in the commercial software release. Outputs from this research will result in improved thermal comfort for householders, lower energy bills and reduced net greenhouse gas emissions.