As a partner with local real estate agency Cunninghams, Georgi Bates is often asked for advice on house builds, layouts and renovations. Should we put on solar? Should we have a battery? Do they affect the value of our home?

When I drop by to talk about sustainability trends in real estate, the answers are clear. From the street, Matt and Georgi Bates’ house looks much like its neighbours: a weatherboard cottage with a picket fence and a bullnose verandah. But walk out the back and it’s all happening. There’s a new garage going up on the back boundary, complete with solar panels to heat the new pool. There’s an electric car charger, batteries and a green wall, ready to plant.

“We’re pretty much off the grid,” says Matt. “The oven’s running off the battery and we’re feeding to the grid. We have about 6kW [of panels] on the roof, providing about 5.5kW per hour. We realistically only need about 3kW per hour for our charging and usage.

“We’ve got a Tesla [car]. We’re putting in a pool, and that’s going to have heating costs, but we’re not going to run it on gas. We’re putting more solar and another battery on. We’re going to run it on the sun and the battery.”

Matt and Georgi’s top TV tips: Ewen McGregor’s Long Way Up, a rollicking adventure through South America on *electric* Harley-Davidsons!

A self-confessed sustainability nerd, Matt has driven the research and design of their renovation. Georgi, meanwhile, has driven the Tesla.

“I’m not a car person. But particularly during Covid, working from home, the Tesla is another office, another workspace. I recently got into a petrol car and it felt like a dinosaur. It was a nice car, but it’s amazing the difference of the sound and fuel compared to battery operated.”

Beyond their own home, Georgi is seeing interest in solar power, sustainable building and energy efficient housing growing.

“It starts with someone [putting on solar] in the street then everyone is curious. They all speak to Matt and ask about the benefits. And I’m starting to see more of a shift with people wanting to put green gardens on their garage roofs, or looking into rooftop gardens.”

This trend is set to strengthen with recent developments in the building codes. At the moment the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme – aka NatHERS — requires new houses to score at least 6 out of 10 for energy efficiency. In 2021, NatHERS is set to be extended to existing homes, so that when you buy or sell, just like household appliances, each property will come with an energy efficiency star rating. At which point it’s not just about saving money on a power bill: it directly affects the value of your house. So Matt and Georgi are not just champions for sustainability: they’re smart investors.

“I think sustainability is the future of real estate. It will become one of the must haves.”

Georgi Bates is a partner at Cunninghams Real Estate. Whether you are looking to buy or sell, or just to find out more about the market, she’s happy to hear from you.