How to design a sustainable and affordable home | Interview with Jenny Edwards and Sarah Lebner, Light House Architecture + Science (ACT) - Episode 4 (Season 10 - INDUSTRY INSIDERS)


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Is it possible to design a sustainable AND affordable home? Well, most homeowners I speak to say ‘No!’ … it’s always more expensive to build sustainably!

Jenny Edwards and Sarah Lebner from Light House Architecture + Science disagree. They believe you can have a sustainable home that is affordable to build as well. And one that uses traditional building methods, done smartly and efficiently.

And they have 77 completed projects that prove it’s possible.


Light House Architecture and Science is a unique architectural practice based in Canberra, and they are founded on a philosophy of simplifying the sustainable design process to create comfortable, clever, energy efficient homes. Homes that are light-filled and light-footed.

Light House Architecture and Science design space-efficient and energy-efficient homes to suit Canberra’s climate.

Through excellent design and scientific testing, they create homes that feel spacious and comfortable, and function beautifully, on a smaller than average floor area. Many of the homes they design achieve an energy efficiency rating of 8+ stars (6 stars being the current minimum standard). These houses require half as much energy per year to heat and cool them to comfortable temperatures compared to a 6 star home.

Their vision is to make energy efficient housing mainstream and be a beacon for positive change in the residential construction industry. As a result, they are committed to helping people with a ‘mainstream’ budget achieve their dream of an excellent, comfortable and affordable home.

Light House provides a unique integrated service with an experienced team of architects, scientists and cost estimator. This collaborative approach means you can expect clear and consistent communication from the outset about the design of your home, energy performance, time frames and costings, materials, finishes and inclusions.

JENNY EDWARDS is an ACT licensed Building Energy Efficiency Assessor, and is the owner, managing director and lead scientist for Light House Architecture + Science … and I think this is one of the unique factors of this business as an architectural practice - in that a scientist is at the helm. It completely reframes the business’ focus, practice regime and design methodologies to be aligned with their core philosophy.

Jenny has personally been awarded for her work in the industry, and her businesses and projects - including her own home - have also been recognised and awarded for their design and sustainable performance.

SARAH LEBNER is Lead Architect at Light House Architecture and Science and describes herself as a country girl who only wants to change the world!

Sarah originally joined Light House to focus on developing a modular housing design approach with the aim to make affordable, beautiful, energy efficient homes more accessible to the general public. The business evolution of Light House during Sarah’s employment has given her valuable insight into collaborative approaches and unique practising models for architects.

Sarah now leads the architecture and design team at Light House, maintaining a highly collaborative and collective group approach to design, documentation, advice during construction, professional development, and integration with the science team.

She’s also added another project - a business and resource called “My First Architecture Job” - and it was through this avenue that I first encountered Sarah. My First Architecture Job is Sarah's latest project, allowing her to bring her mentoring skills and energy for helping students kick-start their career to a wider audience.

My First Architecture Job is a resource to help bridge the gap for graduate architects between university and practice by providing knowledge, resources and connections, and to help them find employment, learn the basics of architecture practice, and fast-track the first five years of their career.

When researching this interview, I read a quote by Steve Baczek, an American architect, that said:

“It’s not that High-Performance Houses cost too much; it’s that our idea of a fairly priced home is based on a history of building houses to meet embarrassingly low performance benchmarks. Clients don’t realise the difference between built to code vs built to last”

Jenny and Sarah share some incredibly valuable advice about how you can build a home that is built to last, comfortable and sustainable - and gives you the best living environment in an affordable way.

I know this will be a seriously game-changing interview.

Listen to the episode now. And be sure to get in touch with Jenny and Sarah to let them know you heard them on Undercover Architect, and to thank them for all they share!

This podcast is an edited version of the full interviews with Jenny and Sarah. My full interview is now featured inside my online course “How to Get it Right in Your Reno or New Home” for Australian homeowners.

Head to to learn more about “How to Get it Right in Your Reno or New Home”.

Wondering how to build or renovate your family home without the drama, budget blowouts or costly mistakes?

The “How To Get It Right in Your Reno or New Home E-Course” gives you access to all of the information and knowledge you need to create the home you want.

My years of experience with homeowners just like you, has shown me that making mis-steps in the early planning days ... and then continuing to make them ... can fundamentally impact your reno or building project. And send you in the wrong (and expensive) direction.

“How To Get It Right” is designed on the system I’ve followed during my own, and my clients', renovation and building projects. It is a framework for your journey from start to finish.

I arm you with the tools and knowledge you need to save time, money and stress.

And get it right the first time.

This detailed, step-by-step framework, will simplify your entire project journey

and give you the tools to ...

> Feel confident about the steps you need to take in your project.

> Know how to keep everything on budget and on time.

> Avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that lead to disaster stories.

> Be in control, keep your sanity and enjoy the journey!

"How to Get it Right in Your Reno or New Build" will transform your renovation or building experience - and the finished home waiting for you at the end of your journey.

Head to to learn more and join us.


Learn more about Jenny Edwards, Sarah Lebner, Light House Architecture + Science and My First Architecture Job here >>>

Find out about “The Welcome Home Course” for American homeowners here >>>

And “How to Get it Right” for Aussie homeowners here >>>

160 episodes