We’ve always had a passion for sustainability. For me, I think it started with my dad.

Dad was always collecting rainwater and laundry water in drums and barrels, right through our life. He had this whole system set up to save water and reuse it throughout the house. Even though we lived in suburbia, where it wasn’t a very common practice to think sustainably, it was just what we did.

When I started in the building industry, I was an apprentice carpenter for a commercial firm, then I ended up as a site manager running large million dollar plus projects. I did that for a fair number of years, but I always wanted to do my own thing.

So I left, put the nail bag back on and started Joe Mercieca Constructions (as it was called back then). As people got to know me the business started to grow, I put on some staff and we steadily got bigger and better jobs.

Even though I aimed to be sustainable with Joe Mercieca Constructions, my wife Merylese and I also had a passion for something more focused on providing sustainable homes.

We’re not tree huggers, but we think if you build a proper sustainable building then you’re going to do justice to yourself and the environment.

So we bought some land here in Winmalee and started planning our prototype sustainable house. This was maybe 15 years ago when sustainability was still just a word. I had to do a lot of adjustment of stuff that had been made for the commercial industry but wasn’t really available for residential. So because of all that no one wanted to help us, they said we were totally crazy, but we persisted.

We built it.

We got it to work.

Then we launched Blue Eco Homes.

Before we launched, Merylese was working as a clinical nurse consultant.

We had three young kids and wanted to make sure we could provide for the family while I built up the business. When we launched Blue Eco Homes Merylese moved full-time into the business and it really became a family business.

Our kids have also been a part of the journey. When they were in primary school, they would be standing up advocating for sustainability and arguing with their teachers. Now as adults they’re all involved in different ways, living out their passion for sustainability both in and out of the business.

Personally, as a family, we know the impact of a sustainable home first hand.

Two of our three kids used to get asthma and croup and the like every winter and suffer badly. Once we moved from our first house, which was a fairly new house, to our newly built sustainable home in Winmalee – they never had another attack.

This is one of the reasons we’re so passionate about sustainable homes, it makes a huge impact on your health, as well as on your pocket, your comfort and the environment.

Living sustainably doesn’t mean living without comfort, and we’re trying to show people that with our homes.

Our own house and office are fully solar-powered and we recycle 100 per cent of our water, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy comfortable temperatures or use our appliances at our leisure.

Once we’d been building sustainable, comfortable homes for a while we were looking for something more. We started researching and found the concept of passive homes, which is a European design that’s been around for about 30 years.

It’s a growing movement that we wanted to be involved in. We wanted to tackle a new challenge and keep improving the way we can build sustainable houses.

Passive houses can be built in any climate and provide you with filtered, toxic-free air that maintains a comfortable temperature all-year-round with minimal need for heating or cooling.

They use insulation appropriate to the climate and other building techniques that result in no mould and other nasty things in your house and up to 90% less energy than conventional homes.

You probably won’t get a more comfortable, healthy home than a passive house or one that is more friendly to the environment.

It’s been a real challenge to get our passive house to certification; there are lots of boxes to tick.

But I’m excited that at Blue Eco Homes we can bring certified passive houses to the Blue Mountains and beyond. In Australia, there are only 15 other certified passive houses and we hope that we can help there be more.

We’ve always
been about pushing the boundaries with our homes. But we still aim to maintain a focus on bringing people’s dreams to life.

Not everyone is going to want a truly passive house or even a solar passive house, but we will continue to provide options for people to build and live as sustainably as possible.

We know that living in a sustainable home has changed our lives as a family, and we want to help others experience the same.