Better Buildings

Elements such as passive design to heat or cool your home, insulation, building materials and ventilation can all make your house more sustainable - and save you money on utility bills!


Tips on design

  • Passive design means using the sun's heat to warm your home and natural ventilation to cool it down. Key things to remember are aspect, window orientation, shade, plant selection and thermal mass ie. materials that hold heat in winter and release it in summer.
  • Insulate your roof, ideally when your home is being built. Look for the R value when purchasing - the higher the R value, the better the insulation. In Sydney experts recommend an R value of 1.5-3.0. Check also whether your insulation is bio-degradable and made of recycled materials such as paper and PET plastic (commonly used in drink bottles.)
  • Maximise ventilation with high ceilings and windows, plus roof and ceiling vents.
  • Shade windows in summer and east and west-facing windows all year round.
  • Orientate living areas to the north and bedrooms to the south.
  • Create wide opening doors and windows that are well sealed. This allows maximum air movement from breezes in summer but prevents heat loss in winter.
  • Avoid fixed glass panels and install louvred or casement style windows.
  • Surround your home's exterior with shadecloth or suitable plants such as tall-growing ferns. This will help cool the ground around the house.
  • Install a water feature or pond in outdoor living areas such as courtyards to promote cooling.
  • Install ceiling fans.
  • Look for building materials that provide thermal mass, such as polished concrete for flooring and cavity brick for walls.
  • Materials such as timber and plasterboard allow rooms to heat up and cool down quickly

Vist the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability in Waverton and see how an historic building was retrofitted to make it more sustainable.

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