We caught up with CarbonLite Director, Burkhard Hansen, to learn more about his journey in the building industry and the formation of CarbonLite.
Have a read of our Q&A below
Q: When did you first get interested in building?
A: I grew up doing all sorts of jobs with my Dad around the farm. I loved it. So by the age of 10, I had decided that I was going to be a carpenter. All these years later, my passion for carpentry still remains with me today.
Q: How did you start your building career?
A: I completed an apprenticeship in Germany. The apprenticeship training system there is very different to our system here in Australia. From day one we were trained in the basics of building physics. We were trained to understand how healthy buildings should perform including the basics of heat and moisture transfer, which is all part of the foundation of good building carpentry. As the training went on, I felt like I was ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and as I kept going deeper into the rabbit hole I discovered more and more that excited me.
Q: When did you first get interested in ultra efficient homes?
A: After qualifying as a Master Carpenter, I was fortunate to work with leading building companies all over Europe. The experience I gained in the Passiv Haus concept, prefabrication and high-performance building was invaluable. I could see where the market was going. What started as my hobby on the family farm became my obsession, my career and is now a major part of my life.
Q: What differences have you seen in Europe compared to Australia in this industry?
A: To be honest Australia may be a little behind in terms of industry standards, however my prediction is that this will not be for long. The demand from local home owners for more comfortable, healthier and resilient homes is growing at an incredible rate. When you combine that with the push from our Governments for more energy efficiency in our building codes, Australia is hungry and ready for dramatic change. In my opinion it is the perfect environment to create a new pathway for a sustainable future in the housing industry.
Q: How did CarbonLite begin?
A: When we moved to my wife’s home city of Melbourne, I discovered a very different construction industry and very different building standards compared to what I was used to. I thought if people are colder in their homes in Melbourne than people would be in cold climates in Europe there is something wrong with the current methods. During my Certificate IV in Building & Construction and my Victorian builders registration process, I realised that the methodology of house construction had barely changed here in decades. We could see the market potential in combining the Passive Haus concept with precision prefabrication, so we decided to bring the European energy efficiency standard to the Australian market, using locally sourced materials of course.
Q: How has Carbon Lite grown over the years?
A: CarbonLite has been very successful to date. We have grown rapidly but in a controlled and sustainable fashion in step with market demand. CarbonLite is now considered an industry leader in the precision fabrication of ultra-efficient, high performance homes. Our production capacity has expanded over the years to keep up with the ever-growing demand driven by home owners’ awareness. We now employ a large team of specially qualified tradesperson all of whom get a genuine ‘kick’ out of building our high performance homes. But we are not complacent. As a team, we are always looking for new ways to increase efficiencies, be it in the performance of our homes, in the production process or in the way we work generally.
Q: From a personal perspective, what do you enjoy most about working in this industry?
A: On a personal level I enjoy that through simple but effective construction methods we can change people’s lives. Anyone that lives in a high-performance home can confirm that (including my wife). A healthy indoor environment is fundamental to a family’s wellbeing. Through this Coronavirus lockdown period, everyone has felt this more than ever.
From a professional perspective, I love working with the ‘movers and shakers’ and those who are pioneering the push for better standards. I am also very fortunate that I am able to share knowledge and experience through teaching the Passive House tradesperson course through the Box Hill Institute. When I stand up to teach a room full of builders and tradespeople ready to change the world – that is very inspiring, and I feed off the energy in the room during the course.
Q: What makes you passionate about energy-efficient construction?
A: We only have one planet and each one of us is only on this planet for a short time. So, we will have to do everything in our power to leave this place in better condition than we found it. I do believe that we are consuming more energy than there is available whilst creating unhealthy living conditions and houses that are not fit for purpose. Simple implementation of correct, fault-free construction details can fix all of these problems at the source rather than band-aiding it with aircon systems etc. Energy savings and a dramatic reduction of our energy consumption becomes a very useful by-product of creating healthy homes. Our aim is to deliver a better, healthy, extreme weather resilient and ultra-energy efficient building standard to anyone.
Q: Why should people consider building ultra-efficient homes?
A: In very simple terms, you cannot afford not to! A lack of insulation, airtightness and ventilation creates an unhealthy indoor environment and can put you and your family’s health at risk. It is like buying a car without an airbag, seatbelt or brakes that only work in dry conditions. To build homes like those from CarbonLite is better for your pocket AND your health.
To find more information on CarbonLite, please click here. https://carbonlite.com.au/about-us/