Cathy and I have an open house on Sunday 12 September as part of Sustainable House Day. Details about our house can be found here. This year there are 265 house open nationally and in the Hunter there are eight.
In our case, Cathy has done a lot of work into the design and renovations to make the house more environmentally friendly. We are also making behavioural changes (and deciding against some changes) which have an impact on our carbon footprint. For example, not only have we installed better lights, but we also think about how we can reduce their use. We have made decisions about jobs and lifestyle to ensure we only need one car. We don’t have big plasma TVs.
As a community engagement strategy I think Sustainable House Day works at a number of levels. First it is gives people the opportunity to visit homes where people are trying to make their lives more sustainable. They can see various design ideas, they can see what products are available, they can ask questions, and they can see how it actually works in practice. The hope is that it will inspire them to implement some changes in their own lives. In a way it provides a fairly non-threatening way for people to become involved in that it isn’t about politics, the science of climate change or protesting. It involves normal (or fairly normal) people showing what they are doing and entering into conversations with people who want to know more.
It encourages media coverage – the Newcastle Herald had information in today’s paper and Cathy is being interviewed on 2NC on Friday.
From our experience is is also encouraging us to make finishing touches to our house – things we have been planning or have half done are now finished. Our back deck is the cleanest it’s been; probably since it was built!