Sustainable House Day 2018 Report

Jonathan WrightNews


Since inception back in 2001, Sustainable House Day has given the public a chance to inspect properties that have been designed, built or renovated to enhance sustainability, comfort and performance.

In our region, the popular annual event has evolved into a community learning festival where homeowners and experts share their knowledge, insights and expertise with others - showing them how to live well!

Geelong Sustainability (GS) was delighted to coordinate Sustainable House Day (SHD) in 2018 with support from the City of Greater Geelong for the tenth year.  SHD is Geelong Sustainability’s signature event, which aligns closely with our mission, which is to inform, inspire and connect communities to create a sustainable future and to protect our natural environment. It aligns with many of the One Planet Living principles.  

This major community event has evolved into an authentic and effective learning experience, which inspires Geelong residents to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and energy efficiency practices and technologies.  The SHD2018 program had 13 diverse properties open to the public for four hours on Sunday 14th October. Homes within and around suburban Geelong opened from 10am to 2pm and those on the Bellarine from 1pm to 5pm. To maximise learning outcomes, the Event Coordinator worked with the homeowners to organise onsite technical experts at all properties.  To offset some event expenses, adults were asked to pay an entry fee of $2/house.

Snapshot of SHD2018

We are delighted to report that SHD2018 was a recording breaking year. The weather was perfect and it proved to be another fabulous event during which much information and knowledge was shared.  For a recap, check out this snapshot video of SHD2018.

We fulfilled all our event goals:

  • We offered a diverse program that showcased exemplar new and renovated buildings, renewable energy technologies, DIY retrofitting techniques, productive edible gardens and water harvesting solutions.
  • We informed Geelong people about how they can make smarter choices and inspire them to live more sustainably.
  • We connected visitors with technical experts and local businesses that could assist their transition to greener living.
  • We delivered a high quality, professionally run event in which homeowners, volunteers and technical experts were briefed and supported and had enjoyable, rewarding experiences.
  • We promoted the event widely through multiple media channels including print, online and social media. Our snapshot preview video was viewed over 8500 times on Facebook.
  • We recorded over 2300 visitors to the 13 properties which were supported by 117 volunteers of whom 58 were subject matter experts.

We want to publicly acknowledge the generosity of the homeowners, members, volunteers, experts and sponsors who helped to make SHD2018 our biggest and most successful event yet!  

GS is delighted with the growing public interest and thirst for sustainable living information. Increasingly more young people are visiting homes seeking advice about their own renovations or future new builds. We are currently conducting a comprehensive visitor survey, which will provide rich data for us to better understand the community’s learning needs and interests.

SHD 2019

Next year SHD Geelong will be held on Sunday 13 October. With growing public interest in the event, we are delighted to already have a list of over 20 possible properties. For more information contact Geelong Sustainability’s SHD Coordinator by email.

For anyone interested in more information about event planning, publicity or statistics … read on.

Event publicity

This year, Geelong Sustainability was responsible for all aspects of the event including publicity:

  • We created informative web pages with technical information, listed onsite experts and uploaded photos to our SHD webpage -
  • We heavily promoted the houses via our Facebook sites plus our sponsors through our GS page and our special SHD Geelong site -
  • We ran adverts in the Times News Group suburban papers in the four weeks before SHD and received editorials.
  • Councillors Mason and Mansfield did photo shoots for us and stories ran in both "The Addy" and the Times News Group papers.
  • We produced an A6 postcard with property details. The 5,000 copies printed were widely circulated including through Council service centres.
  • We emailed info to our 2000+ subscribers several times in the lead up to the event.
  • Geelong Media produced videos that we boosted with Facebook adverts. The preview slideshow had over 8300 views. We also made several live Facebook videos for the first time, which will enable the event to live on.
  • We encouraged people to pre-register for SHD and by the day had over 850 registrations!
  • We held a SHD Preview: Meet the Homeowners Green Drinks event on 26 September.
  • We did 2 special SHD radio show on the Pulse The Sustainable Hour and Mik released podcasts.

SHD2018 Outcomes and Statistics

Geelong’s SHD day on Sunday 14 October had over 2300 visits to the 13 open houses, averaging 177 visits/house ie. 44.3 visits/hr. The national SHD event organised by Renew held on Sunday 16 September, had another record year with 33,000 visits to 224 open houses. Their patronage averaged 147 visits/house with 6-hr opening time ie. 24.6 visits/hr. By comparison, our Geelong event had an extra 20 visits/hour or 80% higher visitor rate.


The record attendances and in-depth conversations clearly demonstrate the growing interest in SHD and the value it provides to the community.

Our top prize went to Annie’s home in Drysdale with over 310 visits.  She had an impressive array of onsite experts including: building designer Tim Adams, builder Shamus O’Reilly, solar installer, Phil Hapgood, worm sewage supplier, Alex and UPVC window manufacturer Colin Mills. Everyone was kept busy with three concurrent tours running with up to 30 people in each group! There was considerable interest in the two quite different tiny homes on display and people enjoyed exploring the rehabilitated farm and productive permaculture gardens.

We also supported the opening of two houses in our region on the national SHD day on 16 September organised by Renew. The tiny home in Norlane and a rammed earth house at Bells Beach had a total of 180 visitors bringing our 2018 total to over 2600 visits.

All homeowners and onsite experts reported having a rewarding day sharing their knowledge and insights. A debriefing event was held on 23 October with homeowners, lead volunteers and event partners to share stories, review event logistics and plan for SHD2019.  A debriefing event was held on 23 October with homeowners, lead volunteers and event partners to share stories, review event logistics and plan for SHD2019.


SHD is Geelong Sustainability’s signature event and we received wonderful support from our committee, members and supporters plus local businesses and other groups.

  • Homeowners: First and foremost we salute our wonderful homeowners who presented their homes so well on SHD.  Without them there is no event.

  • Experts: We sincerely thank the many technical experts who provided in-kind support and were kept busy all day giving tours, sharing info and answering questions. Phil Hines again provided pro bono photography services.

  • Sponsors: GS acknowledge our strategic partnership with the City of Greater Geelong and our event sponsors: the Gordon, Barwon South West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, APHI Projects, SO’R Construction, A&A Worm Farm Waste Systems, and Thermosmart Windows who brought their caravan up from the Western district for the day. ATA (now trading as Renew) again provided us with Sanctuary and ReNew magazines to give away.
    This year Geelong Sustainability had a strategic partnership with CoGG. For their contribution of $12,000, we delivered an event with a value of over $52,000 for the City. While CoGG is currently reviewing their strategic partnerships scheme, we are hopeful of their continued support for this important community event.

  • Community: This year we received support from several community groups including: Geelong & Bellarine Tiny Homes Ltd, Bellarine Landcare, the Scouts, Cycling Geelong, City Harvest and ResourceSmart Schools. Going forward, GS has committed to work with Geelong & Bellarine Tiny Homes group and Deakin Uni to advocate for an exemplar micro village of affordable small homes in Geelong.
  • Volunteers: GS appreciates the continuing support of our amazing volunteers who help to make SHD our most popular annual event!

  • Subcontractors: Vicki Perrett was contracted as the Event Coordinator for the sixth year through Salty Solutions P/L.  Jonathan Wright and Mik Aidt from Geelong Media organised the website, comms and social media. A new graphic designer, Kathryn Junor was brilliant and Fleetwood gave us great service printing the postcards.