The Perth woman reinventing sustainable living through design

Scott Print Environment and Sustainability Award winner Tanya McKenna.
Scott Print Environment and Sustainability Award winner Tanya McKenna.

PERTH resident Tanya McKenna is challenging the norm when it comes to sustainable living and design.

The 29-year-old recently received the Scott Print Environment and Sustainability title at the WA Young Achievers Awards for her unique and influential vision to transform inner-city living in Perth.

Ms McKenna, who appeared on television with partner Peter Chadwick for their Nature Inspired Eco House, said the home was on an inner city infill block and demonstrated liveability on a smaller scale, which challenged the norm.

Tanya McKenna on the green biophylic roof of the Nature Inspired Eco House.

“Overall the home demonstrates that sustainable design in housing can be achieved with a really beautiful, stylish and individual home – it isn’t just a ‘hippy’ culture,” she said.

“The green roof is definitely a unique feature rarely seen on residential homes, particularly with solar panels and a solar hot water system sitting on top of the greenery.

“The use of recycled materials is influential – demonstrating that beautiful homes can be constructed and styled with building materials that have less embodied energy, which is key to sustainability.”

Ms McKenna and Mr Chadwick previously renovated three other homes that followed a similar design ethos, with their last project the Plywood Box, a small 38 sq m apartment in Mount Lawley they turned into a minimalist studio space they now manage as an AirBnB.

Tanya McKenna with partner Peter Chadwick in their Nature Inspired Eco House. Picture: Heather Robins of Red Images Fine Photography.

For the former Woodvale resident, creating sustainable living options was common sense, and the only viable way forward for Perth.

“It’s evident that the world can’t sustain mass consumption and fossil fuel emissions at the rate that we are developing, and therefore reduction, minimalism, clean energy and eco-design pave the way forward,” Ms McKenna said.

“Perth is one of the (unfortunately) worst planned cities in the world due to it’s urban sprawl.

“Sustainability is essentially about efficiency – large houses, long journeys in cars and the removal of native vegetation for continued urban development is an inefficient use of energy, resources and our time.”

Ms McKenna said the most sustainable homes were the smaller and more compact ones.

“If we design more sustainably, we use less, and evidence shows that with less ‘stuff’, people thrive,” she said.

“Overall the world needs to consume less, and housing is a major form of consumption.

“I think everyone gets it, we just need people that can demonstrate how it can be done.”

Tanya’s sustainable living and design tips:

– Consider renewable energy

– Water recycling is a must

– Maximise natural light and minimise air-con use

– Use second-hand/recycled materials and furnishings

– Plant natives and water wise plants

MORE: Teen charged after car crashes through Heathridge property

MORE: US fashion designer Kate Spade found dead in New York

MORE: Police charge man over alleged diving hood armed robbery