By the beginning of this century, building trends, consumer demand and an abundant supply of land saw the size of the average Australian family home balloon to among the largest in the world. With the threat of climate change now closer than previously thought, home owners are looking to reduce their footprint on the planet and to embrace sustainability when designing and building new homes.
Can Traditional House Plans Deliver a Sustainable Dwelling?
With all the best of intentions, just how does someone without the funds to engage an architect go about designing a sustainable dwelling? There are several relatively simple ways to do that while still working with traditional house plans, resulting in an energy-efficient home built around renewable resource principles such as passive design.
How Does Passive Design Work?
In this model, the building utilises local climate and site conditions to keep the home at a comfortable temperature, reducing the need for artificial heating and cooling. The placement and orientation of the home on the block of land is critical. For example, a house design utilising the northern aspect harnesses the power of the sun, with shading and overhangs to limit sun exposure in summer, while allowing for the sun to flood into the rooms during winter.
Here at Bunbury Real Estate, we are seeing many examples in new housing estates of this type of thought and care now being taken. With home buyers looking to buy existing houses, we get regular enquiries regarding features such as rainwater tanks and the possibility of using grey water for lawns and gardens.
Solar Power Still a Favourite
Renewable energy is the next obvious choice for a sustainable dwelling. Solar power is the most widely consumed renewable energy source in Australia and with the cost of storage batteries falling rapidly, it will soon be affordable for the excess solar energy to be stored in household batteries. Even without batteries, householders are already selling their surplus power back to the grid reducing their energy costs.
Don’t Waste – Recycle
For an even more sustainable home, some builders are using recycled building materials in new home construction. Materials such as aluminium use large amounts of energy to create but can be recycled time after time and fit well with modern décor. Home owners are also requesting that only plantation timber be used in their dwellings, keeping old growth forests intact.
Getting Used to Smaller Homes
There are many more techniques being used, but the most interesting one for Australians is the trend to building smaller houses. Not only are these more affordable, but they consume less building materials, are less expensive to run in terms of energy costs, and with clever design, can still give us the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.