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You can live with water and power from your roof – and treat your own sewage!

October 6, 2010

Bob Carr and Michael Mobbs

A terrace house in Sydney’s Chippendale has shown in the last 14 years how to live without water and sewage connections and without taking power out of the grid.

Today Bob Carr launched the book in which Michael Mobbs – a consultant of sustainable projects and urban farms who has worked as a lawyer, specialising in environmental law  – describes the technology, materials and systems he used to build his own sustainable house 14-years ago.

In launching the book at the house today, former Premier Bob Carr said his Governments BASIX’s initiatives of 2004 mandated reductions of forty percent in energy and water use in all new New South Wales housing. “It was a world first,” Carr said, and was part of the Carr Government’s major initiative on greenhouse.

“But Michael Mobbs example shows how much more there is to be done and tells us how it can be done.”

In 1996 Mobbs decided to make some changes to his family’s bathroom and kitchen.  He wanted more space for his growing family.  More importantly he wanted to stop household sewage and greenhouse pollution and find a way to use rain water and sunshine to create a sustainable living environment.

So began a three month renovation that would change the course of his life.  The book details those experiences.  Easy to read and full of useful tips Mobbs demystifies the process. He tells you what works, what doesn’t and what it will cost.  For example an inefficient fridge will use 50% or more of your households’ energy, whereas a water-efficient showerhead will use only one-third the water of an inefficient guzzler.

“These 14 years I’ve been getting my drinking and cooking water from rain on my roof, reusing all my treated sewage for toilet flushing and clothes washing, and getting my energy from the sun,” says Mobbs.  “Unless visitors are told it’s a sustainable house, they don’t see any immediate difference.”

Over 14 years his sustainable house has:

  • Stopped over 112 tones of greenhouse gases polluting the air
  • Left over 1.5 million litres of water in the dams
  • Stopped over 1.5 million litres of stormwater polluting Sydney Harbour
  • Stopped over 56 tonnes of coal being burnt
  • Saved over $42,000 in water and energy bills

Anyone can do this says the author.  “You need no building, engineering, design or house-building skills to achieve your own sustainable house.  The book is not intended to replace expert advice, but to help experts and home-builders alike to work together and alone to achieve a sustainable house.”

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