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. Good design avoids the need for mechanical heating or cooling, and costs the same as poor design.
  • Design renewable energy systems to be installed when renovating or building- it will be cheapest then and provide unbeatable energy costs. This includes renewable heat from heat-pumps (RCAC) for space heating and heat pumps for hot water, and solar electric (PV) panels for your freestanding home, apartment or business.
  • Insulate your roof if not already- it is among the very best measures to help you stay comfortable and have low energy costs. In Sydney experts recommend an R value of at least R3.0 blanket, and reflective foil sarking under the roof sheeting or tiles. Blanket will work to keep the interior both warm or cool, while reflective foil works best to keep the suns radiation out They work well together, especially under a dark coloured or toiled roof.  
  • Shade your windows in summer – especially to the east and west, while casement style windows maximise breezes.
  • Orientate living areas to the north and bedrooms to the south if possible.
  • 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.
  • Carefully position trees, shrubs and vines to shade your windows balconies and building during the summer- especially to the East and SE, and West and SW.
  • Install ceiling fans for lowest cost cooling effect.
  • Materials such as timber and plasterboard allow rooms to heat up and cool down quickly, while thermally massive materials stabilise temperature.

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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