This Christmas we were at Mum's place. It was a great holiday all round, but the bit that excited me the most was seeing how her permaculture design implementation was coming along.
I'd put together a design for the new place just before her renovations started last year, so I was keen to see it in action. You can see the design here. The site is on the Gold Coast, QLD. A tropical climate compared to the cool temperate of home in the Blue Mountains, NSW.
The Problem: the heat gained in the house by the westerly sun.
That side of the house was totally exposed to the sun for most of the day. As you know, in Queensland the last thing you want is more heat. She was finding the air conditioning needed to be on more than she was comfortable with, and the western wall was noticeably warmer during the day.
Solving This Problem:
We designed a trellis system that would create shade for that aspect of the house, and provide delicious fruit for the family. The trellis will allow passionfruit and grape vines to grow up and over.
Soon they'll give this side of the house plenty of shade in summer, and really reduce the heat of the sun hitting the house. The trellises are big enough that access is still easy underneath (and a much more pleasant walk!)
It is estimated that shading windows with awnings or foliage can reduce the amount of solar heat gain by up to 77%. This can translate into saving up to 33% in cooling costs, or even make air-conditioning unnecessary.
We also set up Mum's worm farm. It was breaking my heart to see all those Christmas food scraps going into the bin, so off we trooped to Bunnings for a worm farm. No more food waste here!
This is one example of 'the problem is the solution'. The hot westerly sun was diverted from heating up the house (which might have been appropriate in another climate), to growing food and creating shade.