31 May 2023
As a forward-thinking company helping to revolutionise home building techniques in Australia, CarbonLite was quick to join us as a Future Homes Partner in 2020. We recently caught up with Tom Davies and Burkhard Hansen to find out more about CarbonLite's award winning, ultra efficient, prefabricated homes and hear why homes like this could be part of the solution to Australia’s looming housing crisis.
1. Tell us about the CarbonLite difference. What is it about a CarbonLite home that makes it unique compared to other homes on the market?
CarbonLite is a vertically integrated developer, manufacturer and builder that enables us to control the process and deliver homes twice as good in half the time for the same price compared with a conventional build. We are a purpose driven team aiming for a net positive impact on people, planet and profit. The baseline for our home performance is health and we are proud to deliver what we believe are the most energy efficient homes on the planet; they are passive house, all-electric, Green Star certified and equivalent to 8.5 stars NatHers. That means every project is guaranteed to be tested as airtight, mechanically ventilated and fitted with high performance glazing and insulation. Our precision fabricated system enables us to deliver consistent, reliable quality at scale. Beyond building healthy, resilient, and comfortable homes we are also aiming to collaborate, not compete with volume builders, to enable an industry transformation towards net zero.
2. Australia is facing a housing shortage and we have the opportunity to address this now. How could pre-fabricated homes be part of the fix?
Yes, we continue to increase the housing deficit – more people but fewer new homes being built – this is a problem, but there is a layer of dysfunction in the industry that is exacerbating the problem, that can’t be fixed by the incumbent systems and process the building industry employs. The industry is in the perfect storm driven by increased material costs, lack of skilled labour, more stringent energy efficiency regulation, the economic conditions (increasing interest rates, inflation), archaic building methods and an increasing natural hazard events due to climate change. The building industry is disrupted but there is a golden opportunity for transformation, and it’s going to require bold steps, collaboration and some hard work.
Productivity in the construction industry has decreased since 1990 - the same year the first Nokia mobile phone was released – but the two technologies have not continued the same trajectory. The reality is that construction is a victim of its own success and decades of uninterrupted economic growth has created complacency that prevented innovation and change, but a transformation is underway and in the near future homes will be mass manufactured in exciting facilities using robots and modern technology. That will open up a new labour market, create a shift towards gender balance and allow a new generation of tech-savvy young minds to build a new generation of homes.
3. In its recent budget. the Albanese Government allocated billions to make existing homes more energy efficient. What are some of the energy efficient measures already built into a CarbonLite home?
As many Australian households feel the winter chill set in, we are working to create healthy, comfortable energy efficient homes that are built for the future and affordable. CarbonLite homes are ultra-energy efficient, electric homes with a NatHers 8.5 stars baseline. Complete with Solar PV and batteries these homes deliver energy positive outcomes and up to 90% energy savings while eliminating drafts, discomfort, mould and condensation. Our energy efficiency and carbon reduction measure translate across the manufacturing process and lifecycle of the home through efficiencies in the factory and onsite during the build, right through to the operational life of the home. This is what Australians should expect in their homes, today and into the future.
4. CarbonLite recently won a Telstra Business Award and was shortlisted for a Banksia award - congratulations! Why was your work recognised?
We were recognised for promoting sustainability and particularly our vision and direction for future homes. It was humbling to be pitched against the leaders across all industries and achieve what we did. Most importantly it reinforced for us that there are many change makers and leaders across all industries who are tirelessly working for our ecologically sustainable future. We are certainly in the midst of the ecological revolution, which we need to believe, otherwise what’s the point. It was good to have that validated. Awards are good for recognition and promotion, and we used the process to check in n our strategy and have it validated – we’re confident we’re on the right track, and the awards embolden us on our journey. And in a humble acknowledgement to our co winners and finalists – keep on keeping on.
5. What is next for CarbonLite?
Net positive, resilient homes for all Australians; we are going to be/continue to be relentless as we work towards this vision. We will achieve this by standardising passive house and refining our volume manufacturing processes, collaborating for scale and playing our part in transforming the Australian home, particularly continually refining RubikHaus.
We have partnered with Chatham Homes and are currently collaborating on the delivery of their next generation of homes incorporating our PanelLite product. Further to this, CarbonLite is working with Chatham Homes and Australian 3DCP (3 Dimensional Construction Printing) company Fortex incorporating prefabricated components into 3D printed homes, with the first 3DCP pilot project commencing print in Victoria later this year.
We are delivering our own land and are streamlining the home delivery process; we have started with a development of around 20 RubikHaus in Victoria; we expect this to be an iconic development showcasing how we can live and thrive in our climate changed future.
Finally but importantly, we are striving to be net positive for both carbon and biodiversity. On the carbon agenda, this is something we must do as an industry and we are working collaboratively with MECLA and GBCA on this. On biodiversity, we have secured a land asset for biodiversity improvement and intend to use this as a project that enables RubikHaus homes to be biodiversity net positive. We must all strive for net positive, be kind and respect each other as we transform our economy and societies during this ecological revolution.
Did you know that on average, 90% of our time is spent indoors? And 2/3 of that time spent is in the home? It's no wonder the home is considered the most important purchase you will ever make, and certainly the most expensive. By choosing a Green Star Home, you can be sure your home meets high standards in health, energy efficiencies and comfort. Learn more about Green Star Homes here.