Whether building from scratch or renovating an existing home, taking environmental concerns into consideration has never been more important. Style Insider - and resident Block architect - Julian Brenchley talks us through the basics of turning your home into an environmentally sustainable living space.
Hire an architect
I’m only being a little bit facetious here. They know what they are doing - and are up to date on the latest technological developments. Gone are the days when I would have to try to convince clients to put photovoltaic cells (solar panels) on their roof - most clients take it as a given that that is how it is going to be. Don’t make any compromises when it comes to thinking about handing the keys over to your kids - they are going to need their house to be environmentally friendly, far beyond what we can even imagine now. It is as simple as that.
Especially if you are renovating an older-style home, it’s all about insulation, insulation, insulation! And when you think you haven’t got enough - there will be a whole raft of other insulation you can do. There are plenty of products on the market for retro-fitting insulation to panelled walls. One of the best things for older houses - and I am dealing with some of those in Melbourne now - is retrofitting underfloor insulation. All of this will minimise the need to have to use artificial heating and cooling.
It’s almost about designing as though you’ve got no air conditioning. Because, really, there will come a time in the future where air conditioning will not be a feasible option because of the cost of energy prices. There are lots of basic things you can do - create north-facing living spaces, make sure there is a buffet of western sun, try and orientate windows so you are not getting too much solar gain, but also not too much heat lost in winter. These are really simple passive sustainable measures.
Think about ‘active’ solutions
These might be solar panels in the roof, solar-boosted gas heating, battery storage for power, geothermal heating and cooling systems or grey water recycling - they are all active systems. It might be initially expensive, but the long-term gains can’t be underestimated.