Owner Builder Home wins Built Environment category prize at 2015 Qld Premier’s Sustainability Awards

Article by Nathan Johnson

Architecture and Design

An owner-builder residential project that surpassed one of the toughest sustainable building performance tests in the world has been awarded the Built Environment category prize at 2015 Qld Premier’s Sustainability Awards.


Over a 12 month period Robert and Tracy McVicker, owner-builders of Vicker Ridge in Logan Village, Qld put their home to one of the most rigorous tests of building performance which measured its energy and water collection and use.

And the result? Their new residence surpassed zero net energy and zero net water measurements, achieving net positive for both.

This means that over 12 months the house exported more surplus electricity than it used, harvested more rainwater than it consumed and treated and reused all its wastewater on site without chemicals.

On top of that, the couple also got the result they sought at the recent 2015 Premiers Sustainability Awards, named as one of the 11 category winners announced at a gala dinner on 5 November, all of which received a trophy and a $2,500 prize.


The home is the McVicker’s first attempt at a new build and the couple note that it took a lot of research and evalutation of building design, materials and construction techniques.

“This was our first new build and we attempted it as novice owner builders,” they explain.

“Almost every element of design, construction, materials, fixtures, products had to be learnt, understood then rigorously evaluated before proceeding. We rarely accepted the norm, because we didn’t want a normal performance home.”


The lodge is powered by a 3.8kW SMA solar inverter which generates 105 per cent of the electrical energy consumed by the building. It has three water tanks which amount to 81,800 litres and produces 105 per cent of the building’s water needs via rainwater harvesting.

The house is also not without comfort and amenity. It features multiple fridges (one with with ice maker), an under bench water chiller, multiple TVs and an electric heated floor. It also has inside and outside air conditioning a 90,000 litre pool and a massive backyard.

After one year designing and four years building, the end result for owner-builder couple Robert and Tracy McVicker is an award winning sustainable residence that has eclipsed one of the most vigorous testing standards in the industry.