Ipswich's own grand design

Is this the greenest home in Ipswich?

Esther James at her at her new sustainable living house in Ipswich. Photo: Sarah Harvey / The Queensland Times
Esther James at her at her new sustainable living house in Ipswich. Photo: Sarah Harvey / The Queensland Times Sarah Harvey

IT'S Ipswich's own grand design. A sustainable house that will never pay a power bill or, short of another massive drought, for a litre of mains water.

Esther James's Ipswich home has been built to be as sustainable as possible and it's the first of its kind in Ipswich.

The house, built by her brother David James, includes 16 solar panels, tanks to store 15,000L of rain water and a brick wall that heats the entire house.

The wall, running through the middle of the house, has been placed to be heated by the lower winter sun but avoid the higher sun in summer.

The bricks retain the heat from the sun shining on it and keep the house warm in the cooler months.

It can also be supercharged by a fireplace.

"We had the fire going the other day, and the place just got so hot we had to put the fire out and open the place up," Esther said.

"Our goal was to built a sustainable house that's aesthetically pleasing and on a reasonable budget."

The north-facing house has been built to make the most of the block it's on, oriented specifically to take in sun and breezes.

It has extended eaves to protect the house and the central brick wall from the sun in the summer, and is connected to a grey water system that immediately waters the gardens.

Sixteen solar panels on the roof provide 4.2 kilowatts, nearly triple the average small house uses.

David James said the house was designed on four principles that separated it from traditionally built houses: its orientation to make the most of the block; the materials used including of 20% recycled products; designed for all stages of life and to be easily made disability accessible if needed; and as energy efficient as possible.

With the construction costing $320,000 and taking nine months, the Jameses admit it costs more initially to build a sustainable house but in the long run the house will see huge savings.

"Over a lifetime, or even 10 years, the extra money spent to build the house will easily be made up," James said.

Esther James at her at her new sustainable living house in Ipswich.
Esther James at her at her new sustainable living house in Ipswich. Sarah Harvey

Green thinking

Esther James's sustainable house has:

  • Sixteen solar panels on the roof providing 4.2kW of electricity;
  • Three tanks holding 15,000L of rainwater;
  • A central brick wall designed to heat the house in the cold.


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