Sustainable House Day 2021: Was COVID a Show Stopper?

John PearceNews

We’ve just completed this year’s Sustainable House Day! How did it go? Did the community like it? What did we learn? Find out below.


Um, what is Sustainable House Day?


For the uninitiated, Sustainable House Day (SHD) showcases exemplary sustainable homes across our region. By doing this, GS hopes that people can learn how they can live happier, healthier lives in homes with more thermal comfort, fewer carbon emissions and lower running costs.


Check out the program options



Some of the things we wanted to achieve:

  • To provide quality information and practical advice that assists people to make smarter choices regardless of whether they’re planning a new home, looking for ways to retrofit or renovate their current home or renters trying to lower their power bills or live more sustainably

  • To connect people with local experts (designers, builders, solar experts, energy efficiency & retrofitting experts, etc.) who can assist them to achieve their goals

  • To educate people about the importance of orientation and passive solar design

  • To inform people about contemporary building techniques and materials

  • To promote all-electric homes and the imperative to get off gas

  • To raise awareness of energy and water efficient principles and products

  • To provide a forum whereby people can listen and talk to: 
    • homeowners - to hear their stories and insights 
    • technical experts - to hear their advice and answer their questions.




Building on our 2020 COVID-safe experience, we ran SHD2021 online whilst trying to retain the wonderful peer-peer knowledge sharing and expert advice of the traditional event. This year, we held 8 seminars over 16-17 Oct weekend involving 11 homeowners, 19 experts, 28 GS volunteers and over 1235 participants.


How did we go?


  Despite COVID, it seems like we did a pretty good job:



Results of the Geelong Sustainability Good Car Co EV Bulk Buy


  • Registrations were up 26% on last year

  • Almost 60% of participants said they were able to attend because the event was online

  • Over 86% of attendees attended more than 1 seminar

  • Over 96.5% of attendees rated the program as good (45.5%) or excellent (51%)

  • Best of all, 92% of people said they’d engage in more sustainable practices as a result of the program!


What did people think?


“Thanks to the GS team, these seminars are so inspiring!” Cr Belinda Moloney, City of Greater Geelong.

Feedback from other attendees:

“Many thanks to the presenters. And GS, I’ve watched every session over this weekend and loved the whole lot! Many thanks and well done.”

“Loved it! What a great weekend. Am now a Geelong Sustainability member and look forward to more events and learning more.  Love the connections through such a group.  Congratulations.”

“Your efforts in organising SHD are invaluable and you should be proud of creating a legacy that deals with one of the most confronting issues facing us.”

“I think the house tours were a good mix of discussion and information, some good questions were asked and answered and the owners' stories and experiences were valuable.”


What did we learn?


Using surveying during and after the event, we discovered more about what people need and when they need it.


  • Finding ways to offer people access to networks and resources without having to wait for the next Sustainable House Day is key. In addition to ongoing engagement and access to SHD resources, attendees requested advice about: 
    • costing out sustainable house upgrades
    • ongoing networking with like-minded people, experts and suppliers
    • practical interactive workshops


  • Insulation was the most popular theme identified by attendees. Future SHDs should have seminars explicitly covering this particular topic.

  • One of the biggest barriers to action was finance and managing high upfront costs. There is an opportunity for GS to provide a finance seminar for building upgrades that walks people through the process of spreading out the cost of sustainability upgrades.

  • Attendees have a high level of interest in retrofitting existing properties, so more retrofitting case study content should be offered.





We’ll be using these insights to shape and deliver future projects and Sustainable House Days.


I missed it!


Not to worry, we’ve got good news! You can access all the resources  24x7 from our website at:




SHD is Geelong Sustainability’s signature event. We greatly appreciate the wonderful community support and contributions to this innovative virtual event. We could not have delivered such a successful event without them!


  • Homeowners: who prepared their homes for filming, narrated their video and participated in their SHD seminars. 

  • Experts: who generously shared their expertise in preparing content and during the SHD seminars.

  • Volunteers: who helped with event planning and as co-hosts during the numerous Zoom sessions.

  • Sponsors: whose financial support enabled GS to deliver a professional event, including our strategic partner: the City of Greater Geelong and our platinum/gold sponsors: BSWWRRG, Barwon Water, Powerpal, Homes with Integrity, Pickering Windows, SO’R Construction and RACV Solar.

  • Subcontractors: whose professionalism made the program hum along - thanks to Geelong Media and our other regular subcontractors.