Virtual Sustainable House Day Tours in Australia and the United States

29. September 2020

ISES Board Directors Paulette Middleton ( ISES Member at Large Representative USA) and Monica Oliphant ( ISES Member at Large Representative Australia) are happy to share an overview of the 2020 Virtual Sustainable House Day Tours in the US and Australia.


Sustainable House Day (SHD) started as Solar House Day in Australia in 2002 and was jointly managed by the Australian and New Zealand Section of ISES (ANZSES) and the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) now called Renew. In 2015 Renew took over sole management of SHD.

SHD, is generally held in September, which is Spring in Australia. Volunteer homeowners and a few housing developments open-up some of the best sustainable homes and gardens in all parts of the country.  This enables the public to visit and learn, in their local climate area, best practice sustainable solutions in building design, how to live comfortably at low cost, efficient appliance use, water-saving gardens, permaculture etc. Often specialists in solar systems, architecture and energy efficiency are available on-site to support the homeowners in answering questions and special talks are given.

When questioned, people who attend SHD usually go to learn how to live more sustainably, get tips for renovations, ideas before they start building and new appliance trends.

This year, because of Covid-19, for the first time SHD became a virtual tour. Over 100 homes opened around Australia and videos were prepared, (click on a house in any of the 8 States or Territories  - NT Tropical and TAS cool- and then click on “View Featured Video” ) On the day, 27th September, homeowners answered questions via “zoom chat” and there were several special online talks. The day turned out to be a great success with several thousand people “attending” both from within and outside of Australia.

United States

The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) will be presenting their tour virtually this year.  For 25 years, ASES has organized and delivered the largest grassroots solar event in the U.S., the National Solar Tour. In light of COVID-19, the National Solar Tour is all virtual this year. The tour is being extended to fit in virtual events beginning on September 28 running through the official weekend, October 3 and 4. National Solar Tour week showcases live programming focusing on electric vehicles, schools, homes, businesses, and community building through solar along with virtual tours of solar and sustainable homes, businesses, schools, religious institutions, and more. These events and tours aim to empower people to learn about solar technology and the process of going solar from their neighbours and people nationwide, all from the safety of their homes. The advantage of being all virtual this year is that many more people, worldwide, have access to the tours and information about going solar and being more sustainable.  ASES plans for its future tours to continue being virtual along with in-person tours when possible.

Other Country Tours

ISES plans to develop a Tour page that highlights tours from other countries, along with those in Australia and the US. Please let ISES know about activities in your country by sending

--Links to sites and contacts for the tours and/or

--Other related information such as best-case examples, low-cost innovations in energy-efficient homes, monitored data for research or links between Institutions for possible joint research activities, and suggestions for additional information to share widely.


Photocredit: Renew SHD