Work on the Illawarra's first "passive house" is beginning, with those behind the project lauding the energy-efficiency and health benefits.
Passive homes are a popular building standard in Europe, and are also growing in popularity in parts of Australia.
Adam Souter, director of Unanderra-based builders Souter Built, said his family's situation influenced his decision to pursue this type of construction.
"After our twins were born my partner, Ame, and I noticed they both had a cough they couldn't get rid of," he said.
"It wasn't until my son had an asthma attack that we realised their room wasn't the healthiest environment for them to live in.
"So after researching passive house construction, I learnt that the health benefits for the occupants were greatly improved.
"Having fresh filtered air 24 hours a day in your house while maintaining a comfortable temperature should be standard in every home in Australia."
Passive house design principles are met via a specific criteria; a series of minimum performance requirements to achieve certification.
Key principles of a passive house are having excellent thermal insulation, completely airtight, high-performance windows, comfort ventilation and thermal bridge-free construction.
The Australian Passive House Association says passive houses rely "on building physics and carefully integrated, minimal building services and technology".
Wollongong-born architect Alexander Symes said this approach is about "making a really high-performance thermal envelope, so you don't have to rely on air conditioning to maintain a comfortable internal environment".
The Illawarra's first certified passive house, the 'Pepper Tree Passive House' is a collaboration of Mr Souter and Mr Symes.
The project has been in the works for a couple of years, and has DA approval.
Mr Souter opted to use space on his own property at Coachwood Drive, Unanderra to build the 60sqm house as a secondary dwelling.
The project's groundworks have begun, with an aim for construction to be completed by July/August.
"It'll be our company office, as well as a display home for clients to see what a passive house is," Mr Souter said.
"And some of our clients will be able to spend a few nights in it to experience a passive house before they purchase one, because people need to understand the difference.
"There's health benefits and comfort of living in this type of dwelling, as well as the environmental impact.
"You're using 90 per cent less energy than a standard Aussie home."
The name of the house is derived from the 50-year-old pepper tree in the backyard.
"I'm an architect who's interested in environmental design, and he's a builder who's interested in environmental construction and living," Mr Symes said.
"Doing it as a secondary dwelling, in terms of keeping the footprint of the building small aligned with my interests in sustainability and affordability.
"(The size requirement) is what used to be called a granny flat under the secondary housing/affordable housing legislation. So under that it has to be a maximum of 60sqm."
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Read more: Top tips for using passive design
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