Benalla property open for sustainable home day

By Simon Ruppert

An eco-friendly property in Benalla will be open to the public as part of Sustainable house day on September 20.

Howard Bartlett and his business partner Bernie moved to the Rural City 12 years ago with the idea of developing an eco-friendly homes concept.

The Solar Skillion Sleep-out, which is a much nicer way of describing what many might know as a "granny flat", is on Barkley St, is the result of years of hard work.

“We both moved here from Melbourne and found a couple of 100 year old terraces on a block that hadn’t been loved for many years,” Howard said.

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“Our first step was to buy it and worry about the next steps later.”

And those next steps have come incrementally in the ensuing ears.

The property has already featured on the Benalla Sustainable Future Group (BSFG) website, which explains some of its innovative features.

“Howard and Bernie had an energy-efficient sleepout designed and built that is attached to the existing house in Benalla by a covered walkway forming part of a complex of four buildings,” a BSFG spokesperson said.

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“New buildings are solar oriented and follow the four golden rules of good design related to sunlight, open spaces, access and privacy.

“All roofs are skillion and oriented to the north, which shade the buildings in summer and omit the winter sun.

“They are all 10-degree-pitched, with a cantilever pitch to the north side.

“One building is rented from time to time, and three are used by the owners as sleepout, artists studio and house under renovation.”

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With the idea of promoting eco-friendly property design, Sustainable house day is a national event that has been running since 2001.

It aims to inspire people to live sustainably, showing them how to lower energy bills, live comfortably and help the environment through good home design, practices and technology.

Howard will join more than 150 homeowners nationwide in opening their home to the community to pass on tips and advice, including on solar power, home batteries, off-grid living, innovative building materials and design, and more.

In light of COVID-19, this year’s event is completely virtual.

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Participating homes have created video tours and can be asked questions about their homes on the Sustainable House Day website.

Selected homeowners will also be taking part in information sessions happening throughout the day, accessible to anyone through Zoom.

These sessions will be hosted by sustainability experts, designers, and architects, and allow a valuable opportunity for participants to seek guidance from those who have already completed their home.

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The program for these sessions can be found on the Sustainable House Day website:

A profile on the Sleep-out listing its sustainable credentials can be found at:

In the week leading up to the event, participants registered for the event will be able to view a house tour video as part of this profile, and ask Howard questions.

To view house tours and take part in the sessions on the day, registrations to the Sustainable House Day website are necessary.

You can register to take part at

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