Beyond green…..other reasons to build a sustainable home
It's a common misconception that building a sustainable home costs more money, and that it's all about saving the environment.
A sustainable home may not cost you any extra if you design features in right from the start - and it may even cost you less by making some clever design decisions and reducing excess space. You may be surprised to find out that a sustainable home will give a lot of other benefits too!
Save money upfront
Sustainable home design is first and foremost about clever design. Many people are surprised to discover that they can save money by asking the right questions upfront about their own needs. For example:
- Think carefully about the rooms that you need and will use, and avoid excess floor space. Through clever design, you may find ways of reducing the number of bathrooms, bedrooms and the size of living spaces by making sure these are multi-functional and well suited to your actual needs. It will be less to look after and clean, and will dramatically reduce your construction costs!
- Consider whether facing your home in the right direction, including extra insulation and ventilation, and making sure you have a white or cool roof can avoid needing to install air conditioners. Good design will keep your home naturally cool, and you shouldn't need air conditioners at all, saving you thousands up front.
- Preferencing locally sourced materials, will reduce both transport miles and costs.
- Designing for your long term needs, and thinking about how you will use spaces over time (such as when you have children and/or they leave home, whether you will need a home office in the future, or how you would use the space if you become less mobile) will reduce the likelihood of having to make expensive renovations and retrofits over time.
Save money and protect against energy price rises
Good design can save you money from the moment you move in, by reducing your energy and water bills - as well as reducing the need for future renovations and repairs.
Incorporating passive design elements can reduce the amount of time you need to use air conditioning - if you even need it at all - and when it's on, will ensure it doesn't have to work as hard. As one of the largest energy consumers in the home, reducing the energy demand of air conditioners is the best investment you can make in protecting yourself against power price increases!
Designing for hot water system efficiency, by choosing the most efficient system possible as well as reducing the distance between your hot water system and any hot water fixtures will add up to big savings on your bill. Water efficient shower heads, taps and appliances will also mean you use far less hot water!
Considering these design elements from the start will reduce the likelihood that you'll have to make more costly renovations down the track - the cheapest and best time for good design, is right at the beginning!
Better resale value
As power prices and summer temperatures rise, research suggests people are becoming more energy conscious - and that this translates into looking for more energy efficient, sustainable homes.
Having a well-designed, sustainable home may result in it holding its value better and selling for more. It will likely also reduce the need to make more expensive retrofits to your home, to improve its performance after you've moved in.
Healthier indoor living
Sustainable homes that have good ventilation, maintain comfortable indoor temperature naturally and that use low-emissions products and finishes all contribute to a healthier home.
It's commonly not know that the 'new home smell' can actually be a sign of toxic gases, which can continue to impact the air inside your home for years. Paints, glues, varnishes and many other finishes on building products and furniture can contain 'volatile organic compounds' (VOCs) that are known to be harmful to human health. Choosing low, or VOC-free products as well as ensuring your home is well ventilated will keep your family healthier.
Keeping indoor temperatures cooler in summer and warmer in winter is also important for health, with temperature extremes resulting in health impacts and even death. A little known fact is that more people died from the effects of heat than from the actual bushfires during the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009, and scientists predict that we will see more heat related impacts as the effects of climate change increase the number of extremely hot days each year.
More comfortable all year round
A sustainable home is one that is designed to work with the climate, and will keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. It's hard to put a price on the value of being able to walk into a home that is comfortable after a hot summer's day, and being able to get a good night's sleep without running an air conditioner all night long. Good design also ensures you don't have blinding sun beating in through your windows, and that during winter you avoid draughts and the chill coming through the walls and windows.
Even if you have an air conditioner, it is hard to compensate for poor design - and having to run an air conditioner to make your home liveable will cost you thousands of dollars each year.
Cool Homes for the Sunshine Coast - Check out some ideas to make your home more comfortable including a free online coarse, Cool Homes flipbook
Your Home - Australia's guide to environmentally sustainable homes