Civil engineering

Build an Energy-Efficient House.

By Jackie Craven, About.com


The most energy-efficient houses function like living things. They are designed to capitalize on the local environment and to respond to the climate. Australian architect and Pritzker Prize-Winner Glenn Murcutt is known for designing earth-friendly homes that imitate nature. Even if you live far from Australia, you can apply Glenn Murcutt’s ideas to your own home-building project.

1. Use Simple Materials

Forget the polished marble, imported tropical wood, and costly brass and pewter. A Glenn Murcutt home is unpretentious, comfortable, and economical. He uses inexpensive materials that are readily available in his native Australian landscape. Notice, for example, Murcutt’s Marie Short House. The roof is corrugated metal, the window louvres are enameled steel, and the walls are timber from a nearby sawmill.

  • 2.Touch the Earth Lightly

    Glenn Murcutt is fond of quoting the Aboriginal proverb touch the earth lightly because it expresses his concern for nature. Building in the Murcutt way means taking special measures to safeguard the surrounding landscape. Nestled in an arid Australian forest, Murcutt’s Ball-Eastaway House hovers above the earth on steel stilts. Because there is no deep excavation, the dry soil and surrounding trees are protected.


  • 3. Follow the Sun
  • Prized for their energy efficiency, Glenn Murcutt’s houses capitalize on natural light. Their shape is long and low, and they often feature verandas, skylights, adjustable louvres, and movable screens. Notice the linear form and expansive windows of Murcutt’s Magney House. Stretching across a barren, wind-swept site overlooking the ocean, the home is designed to capture the sun.
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    4. Listen to the Wind

    Even in the hot, tropical climate of Australia’s Northern Territory, houses by Glenn Murcutt do not need air conditioning. Ingenious systems for ventilation assure that cooling breezes circulate through open rooms. At the same time, these houses are insulated from the heat and protected from strong cyclone winds. Murcutt’s Marika-Alderton House is often compared to a plant because the walls open and close like petals and leaves.



    USE 1 Completed Action in the Past

    Use the Simple Past to express the idea that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes, the speaker may not actually mention the specific time, but they do have one specific time in mind.


    • I saw a movie yesterday.
    • I didn’t see a play yesterday.
    • Last year, I traveled to Japan.
    • Last year, I didn’t travel to Korea.
    • Did you have dinner last night?
    • She washed her car.
    • He didn’t wash his car.

    USE 2 A Series of Completed Actions

    We use the Simple Past to list a series of completed actions in the past. These actions happen 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on.


    • I finished work, walked to the beach, and found a nice place to swim.
    • He arrived from the airport at 8:00, checked into the hotel at 9:00, and met the others at 10:00.
    • Did you add flour, pour in the milk, and then add the eggs?

    USE 3 Duration in Past


    The Simple Past can be used with a duration which starts and stops in the past. A duration is a longer action often indicated by expressions such as: for two years, for five minutes, all day, all year, etc.


    • I lived in Brazil for two years.
    • Shauna studied Japanese for five years.
    • They sat at the beach all day.
    • They did not stay at the party the entire time.
    • We talked on the phone for thirty minutes.
    • A: How long did you wait for them?
      B: We waited for one hour.

    USE 4 Habits in the Past


    The Simple Past can also be used to describe a habit which stopped in the past. It can have the same meaning as “used to.” To make it clear that we are talking about a habit, we often add expressions such as: always, often, usually, never, when I was a child, when I was younger, etc.


    • I studied French when I was a child.
    • He played the violin.
    • He didn’t play the piano.
    • Did you play a musical instrument when you were a kid?
    • She worked at the movie theater after school.
    • They never went to school, they always skipped class.

    USE 5 Past Facts or Generalizations


    The Simple Past can also be used to describe past facts or generalizations which are no longer true. As in USE 4 above, this use of the Simple Past is quite similar to the expression “used to.”


    • She was shy as a child, but now she is very outgoing.
    • He didn’t like tomatoes before.
    • Did you live in Texas when you were a kid?
    • People paid much more to make cell phone calls in the past.

    May 20, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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