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Did you know that 23% of the household emmissions of the average Australian home comes from water heating? A solar hot water unit with gas boosting (rather than electric) will go a long way to reducing your overall greenhouse gas emmissions. Websites for further information, & rebates for sustainable living are: 

Your home technical manual,  www.yourhome.gov.au


Alternative technology association,  

What does 'sustainability' mean for my project?

These terms refer to the idea that we should design and build in a way that meets our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The environment is one aspect of sustainability, some others include the economy and society. On a building project, being environmentally conscious means that we should be aware of things like: where materials are sourced from; that the design is energy efficient; that waste is reduced and/or recycled.

Some aspects of sustainability have already been incorporated into current building standards. All new homes and additions which are worth over $50,000 must meet minimum energy performance standards. This is determined by the BASIX assessment process, which looks at: the building materials being proposed; window sizing, type of window/door glass; sun shading; insulation levels; water use, etc. At the end of this process, you are given a BASIX certificate on your proposed building design, which must be adhered to during construction.

What do I need to consider to make my house into a 'Green building'?

A 'green building' is one that incorporates sustainable design practices. On a practical level, reducing energy consumption and making an energy efficient home makes sense due to the rising cost of electricity, which is what most of us use to heat/cool/power our homes.

  1. Passive design strategies: these are built-in features of your home design to provide thermal comfort and amenity by naturally heating or cooling the internal environment. These features include: building orientation and daylight (reduces power use); thermal mass (reduces internal temperature variation); insulation (reduces the rate of heat transfer through the building structure); external shading (reduces heat gain especially through glazing); cross ventilation (natural cooling effect); solar heating. It's important to remember that a 'passive' home requires an active occupant, meaning that the design works best if the occupants know when to open or close windows etc. The extent to which your home incorporates passive solar design depends largely on the decisions you and your architect make during the design process.

  2. Overall energy consumption: energy consumption can be reduced by lifestyle adjustments (e.g. not leaving appliances on standby mode & switching them off at the powerpoint), or by selecting appliances with high star ratings for energy efficiency.

  3. CO2 emissions: reducing CO2 emissions is desirable in order to minimise man-made global warming and climate change. Consideration of building design measures that can cope with anticipated higher average temperatures or increases in the occurrence of natural weather events or disasters, e.g. storm/flood/inundation, is a cost-effective approach over the life of a building by reducing the cost of repairs after such events. 

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