Better Buildings

Building design

  • Passive design means using the sun's heat to warm your office or premises 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. 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.
  • Consider installing skylights with double glazing to increase natural light but also giving added protection from summer heat.
  • Shade windows in summer and east and west-facing windows all year round.
  • Orient working areas to the north.
  • 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 premise's exterior with shadecloth or suitable plants such as tall-growing ferns. This will help cool the ground in summer.
  • Bring the outside in. Potted plants help cool office areas and dispel air-borne toxins.
  • Install a water feature or pond in outdoor 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.