When you read the words “sustainable building design” do you see a composting toilet in your dream spa bathroom, the walls of your new home packed in straw bail or your child playing in their room made from reclaimed shipping containers?
Whilst those are some pretty cool ideas, many of the clients at our architecture practice aren’t able to achieve all that when designing their new property. Even if you can’t get completely free of the grid there are so many smart choices you can make with your architect to improve the ecological footprint of your home.
Stubbs Design Tribe’s Top Ten Passive Design Tips:
Insulate the slab, walls and ceiling to cut cooling and heating bills by up to half while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Look at the path of the sun and prevailing wind patterns to best orientate the design for your property to make it more enjoyable to live in and less expensive to operate.
- Thermal Mass
Use high density materials like concrete, bricks and tiles which have a higher thermal mass than lightweight timber as they will absorb and retain heat energy more effectively.
Using deep verandas, courtyards, articulated roof forms creating internal sun and shade areas and fixed shadings above windows will reduce your need for heaters and air conditioners throughout the year.
- Reuse Materials
Have your architect take an inventory of materials that could be incorporated into your new project design. Source suppliers of recycled building materials or other pre-used materials such as the recycled barnyard timber used by one our clients as flooring in her Paddington Terrace home.
- High Specification Glazing
Up to 40% of a home’s heating energy can be lost and up to 87% of its heat gained through windows. Using good quality windows with high specification glazing will reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Water Tanks
BASIX requirements in Australia mandate the use of water tanks for most new builds in urban areas. While they reduce water consumption, water bills and contaminants in our waterways, they can be a pretty cool design feature when embraced by a good architect.
- Cross Ventilation Paths
Air movement is central to passive cooling; capturing breezes and increasing evaporation of heat. Many original Sydney properties have poor air flow due to fragmented rooms but an architect can creatively open up the existing envelope to encourage air movement central to cooling but also central to a more contemporary way of living.
- Strategic Landscaping
Landscaping can improve the aesthetics of your space and form part of the views that make living in it enjoyable. An architect can orientate the space to an existing landscape or design for new vegetation; providing shading for courtyards and window spaces while improving air quality and keeping your space cool.
The use of solar technology and home battery systems is not new but Australia has recently been granted access to the Tesla Powerwall; a highly efficient and more affordable lithium-ion-battery for residential use.
Many of the tips mentioned here are further described at: www.yourhome.gov.au
And for more serious ways of living green check out Michael Mobbs the “off grid guy” at: www.sustainablehouse.com.au