Buildings & Technology

Solar panels on the roof at Djanbung
Education centre at Djanbung Gardens
Education centre at Djanbung Gardens

Djanbung Gardens buildings are designed according to passive solar principles to be energy efficient and reduce use of resources. Likewise, a diverse range of technologies have been selected to reduce energy and resource consumption.

Djanbung is self-reliant for its water supply with rain water harvested in tanks for the buildings and in dams for the gardens. All toilet waste and wastewater is treated and recycled on site. The gardens do not have a municipal waste collection service, so all waste is minimised and recyclable materials that cant be reused on site are taken to the local recycling and resource recovery centre.

Solar panels on the roof at Djanbung
Solar panels were installed at Djanbung in 2009 as part of the Nimbin Solar Group Purchase initiative

Electricity Conservation and Generation

While the Gardens are connected to grid electricity, energy consumption is minimised through solar design & use of energy efficient and alternative appliances & technologies together with energy conserving behaviour. In 2009 an array of solar PV panels were installed as a grid-feed system, which now generate a substantial amount of the electricity used on site and feed any surplus back into the grid.
Building & landscape materials are sourced as locally as possible, with consideration to durability, maintenance and lifespan.

Technologies at Djanbung include:

  • Rainwater harvesting in tanks
  • Water conserving appliances & fittings
  • Wood-fired Cob Oven and B-B-Q, T-LUD biochar cooker, solar oven
  • Zeer pots for storing vegetables use evaporative cooling and save on refrigeration costs
  • Composting toilets & biological wastewater treatment systems
  • Solar water heater and heat exchange hot water system
  • Use of hand tools & non electrical appliances where practical
  • Solar clothes drier, otherwise known as a clothes line!
Hand tools used in the gardens
Students learn to use and care for a wide range of traditional hand tools for the gardens and production systems

Djanbung Gardens location within comfortable walking distance from the village was a conscious decision to reduce motor vehicle use and fossil fuel consumption. The average Australian household uses almost as much fossil fuel with motor vehicle usage as with electricity consumption, hence reduction of motorvehicle use is an important factor in reducing our personal ecological footprint and greenhouse emissions. The use of bicycles is actively encouraged at Djanbung Gardens for local transport. Robyn also has a motor-assisted trike for extra carrying capacity for shopping and collecting supplies from the village.
Education & Resource Centre

The hub of Djanbung Gardens, this building houses the resource & training centre with administration office, seminar/training room and library, canteen kitchen and generous veranda spaces. Designed by Robyn Francis the structure features passive solar design & natural building techniques.
The hexagonal main training room uses pressed earthbricks for the walls and floor. Over 80% of the soil for the pressed earth bricks came from the property. Natural renders are made with sand, clay and cow manure. The earthbrick floor is saturated with linseed oil for durability.
The main room has a natural air-conditioning system for summer, which ducts cool air into the building through underground pipes, drawn in by the high clerestory windows.
Packed sawdust-sand-cement panels for office & canteen walls utilise sawdust, a waste product from local timber mills, as a durable and energy efficient building material.

the education centre building at Djanbung Gardens
The education centre building at Djanbung Gardens features passive solar design, natural building materials and functional spaces

A key consideration in the design and construction stage was reducing building waste. The 240 square meter building generated approximately 1 cubic meter of waste that required off-site disposal, plus several wheelbarrow loads of reusable off-cuts which have all been recycled and utilised on site.
The surrounding edible landscape supports the passive solar design with deciduous trees to the north and windbreaks to the south-west. Soil removed for leveling the site and excavating drainage has been incorporated into the landscape design as raised beds and planting mounds. Garden themes include cottage & culinary gardens.

 Railway Carriages – Residential Area
Three weatherboard camp wagons (ex-Qld Rail, built 1930’s) are placed in a U-formation with verandas and decking, creating a suntrap for winter and provide protection from afternoon summer sun & cold southerly winds in winter. The verandas face into a central courtyard which provides ambience and privacy for residents. The outdoor entertainment & cooking area features a fire pit, wood-fired B-B-Q and cob oven. A Closet Deposit Composting Toilet is installed at the end of the western veranda. The carriages  provided accommodation for full-time students until 2016 and have now been renovated as the family home.

Images of the railway carriages at Djanbung Gardens
The railway carriages combine charm and a piece of history with a great living environment

Greywater Wetland Treatment System
This Rivercare 2000 Award-winning system treats greywater from the railway carriages kitchen sink, shower, handbasin & laundry tub, as well as excess urine from the composting toilet.  The reedbeds are filled with gravel and planted with high-performance wetland plants. Treated waste water flows into the holding pond where aquatic plants and Duck Weed are grown for mulch and livestock feed.

 Blackwater Reedbed Treatment & Flow Forms
This system treats waste water from the main building canteen kitchen and disabled-access flushing toilet (this uses dam water for flushing). All waste initially flows into a septic tank for the solids to settle out and waste water gravity feeds through the reedbed system planted with wetland plants to take up nutrients and eliminate pathogens. The holding pond is fitted with a set of flow forms for aeration and oxygenization as the final treatment.

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