What is good sustainable design?

Passive design is one of the best sustainable design that you can use to plan the construction of the home. This concept focuses on the orientation of your home so seasonal weather patterns are constantly used to heat and cool the property. The best situation is facing north to maximise winter sun for heating so that your property requires minimal cooling in summer and heating during winter. 

However, if you have a home that doesn’t have a northerly-facing aspect, there are other passive design concepts that you can incorporate into your renovation project. You can look into the shading and ventilation of your home, its layout, and its use of thermal mass and insulation.

To reduce the impact of summer heat, which decreases your home’s thermal performance, consider using a verandah around your property, planting trees in the certain positions and using blinds for your windows.

Well-positioned windows and doors will also allow you to capture any breeze to increase the cooling of your home in summer. Window fixtures, such as louvres, will also help to direct the breeze where you wish, so your home has maximum ventilation all year round. 

A 10-star eco renovated home that utilises an effective passive solar design.

 

The layout of your home is essential to its passive design. Areas used less, such as bathrooms, the laundry and garages, should be on the westerly side of your property. These then help to protect your home from the harsh summer sun. Areas used frequently, such as the lounge and family rooms, as well as the kitchen, should be situated on the northerly side of the home to make use of the winter sun for heating, and avoid the intense summer heat. 

Thermal mass is the ability for building materials to store heat during the day, and then release this heat when required. Some building materials are more energy efficient than others, so make sure you consider ratings before selecting products. Another thermal consideration, is the type of insulation you use in your home. The installation of windows and doors that are high in performance, and filling in roof and wall cavities, will insulate your home better and make it energy efficient.

Two roof windows with wooden frame to let light inside the room

Sustainable building materials

There are many eco-friendly building products that you can use when renovating. Some popular choices are mud brick, rammed earth and straw bales, along with recycled steel and timber. All of these building materials enable you to use raw, natural materials that are durable with minimal environmental impact. Other sustainable building materials include lightweight paneling made of recycled paper or straw, and Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC), which weighs about a fifth less than traditional concrete.

Waste management 

According to renovation experts, around 40% of waste comes from construction sites. The best way to reduce this waste when building, is to reuse products in your build or to make sure you recycle reusable materials, for example wood, concrete and metal.

If you’re looking for excellent home waste management, consider installing a greywater and blackwater system. These are standalone systems where all greywater and blackwater waste is pumped into a holding tank and then recycled for use in the garden.

Insulation

There are new types of green insulation coming on to the market frequently. Some innovations include denim or cotton insulation and a spray-on foam called Icynene. However, recycled paper or cellulose insulation has been around for years, along with natural wool. These sustainable insulation methods are considered some of the best available on the market, as they have low toxicity, are environmentally-friendly and have excellent soundproofing capabilities.

Water usage 

There are a number of ways that you can make better use of water in your home. Green home designs take this opportunity to figure out how best plumb your house so that water, which is scarce, is used well throughout your property. This concept means using mains water as little as possible, collecting rainwater, and recycling greywater and blackwater.

Mains water should be used as a backup when rainwater is not available, or greywater and blackwater are not useable. For instance, if you install several rainwater tanks, these can then be plumbed to your kitchen and bathrooms for use; when your rainwater is low, you can then switch back to mains water. Greywater for bath, sink and washing machine water can be pumped onto gardens or used to flush toilets after recycling, as can blackwater or sewerage. Effluent treatment tanks are used to break down any harmful greywater and blackwater waste to produce useable water.

A greywater system installed in home making it more eco-friendly.

 

What is an Australian GreenSmart certification?

GreenSmart is an accreditation course that the Housing Industry Association (HIA) of Australia has implemented to raise builder and designer environmental awareness and to recognise more sustainable practices in residential design and construction. After completion of the professional training course, a builder, designer or renovation specialist is then GreenSmart certified. So before you start your renovation project, ask your renovation specialist for a GreenSmart build to ensure that your home renovation is sustainable and eco-friendly.

For more information and estimates, check out How much does a basic eco-renovation cost in Australia? 

 

Get in touch with Refresh to discuss your home renovation project

If you would like to discuss eco-friendly options and ideas for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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