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Designing sustainable homes

The creation of sustainable homes can be achieved to varying degrees, depending on client requirements and choices, availability of materials and technology, location and size of section, and statutory requirements of local councils.
With accumulated design experience, specially trained builders and other service providers, and a wide variety of sustainable materials now available we are in a position to routinely achieve a high degree of sustainability.
For a home to be sustainable it needs to perform well in two areas: its creation should avoid harmful effects on the environment and it should provide a healthy indoor living environment. In order to achieve these aims the following aspects need to be considered:

Taking care of the environment includes:

  • Selecting renewable or recyclable building materials as well as
  • Materials that don’t create environmental problems during their production, installation, demolition or disposal
  • Sourcing local materials where possible to avoid excessive transportation
  • Avoiding or reducing waste and unnecessary packaging
  • Using renewable energy sources and energy-efficient devices
  • The use of rain-water and the re-use of grey water in combination with efficient water saving devices
  • Environmentally friendly and self-sufficient waste water disposal where appropriate

A quality indoor living environment can be achieved through:

  • Using building materials of natural origin, that are non-allergenic and non- or low-toxic, that allow water vapour and air diffusion to regulate indoor humidity
  • The use of high insulation levels
  • Building materials and finishes that avoid harmful vapours, particles, bacteria, viruses and fungi
  • Avoidance of electro-magnetic radiation
  • Good use of natural lighting
  • Natural ventilation
  • Use of passive solar energy for space heating

Sustainability and costs

For clients it is often a matter of weighing up higher initial costs (which result in long-term savings) against short term cost savings (which result in higher running costs in the long-term). While the calculation of the financial implications is important to most of us, there are additional benefits derived from a sustainable home that are harder to express in dollar terms: a healthier living environment will have a beneficial effect on the emotional and physical wellbeing of the occupants. And everybody benefits in many ways from looking after the environment, i.e. in terms of climate conditions, energy generation, water and air quality and nature conservation.

A sustainable home can save you money through the:

  • Use of the sun’s power for water heating
  • Application of passive solar design principles for space heating
  • Incorporation of energy and water efficiency features
  • Use of healthier and more durable materials

Click here to enlarge the image showing a selection of features of a sustainable home.