Whether you are building, buying or renovating, here are 10 tips for creating a more sustainable home.
1. Conserve water
Use water efficient appliances and fittings, such as 3-star (or more) showerheads and water pressure-limiting devices, and include a rainwater tanks to supply water for use with gardens, toilets and laundry.
2. Heat and cool naturally (passive solar design)
Good passive solar design allows your home to respond to its local climate through natural heating in winter and cooling in summer. This incorporates:
- orientation and room zoning
- capturing breezes for cross-ventilation
- appropriate insulation
- shading (e.g. sufficient eaves)
- building materials (lightweight construction/thermal mass)
- fixtures and finishes (e.g. skylights and window treatment).
3. Heat water efficiently
Install a solar, natural gas or electric heat pump hot water system to lower energy bills and reduce the single largest source of greenhouse emissions in the household.
4. Future proof
Make the living area and at least one bedroom and toilet on ground level and readily accessible from the front boundary or car space to accommodate your changing housing needs as you get older.
5. Safe floors
Design floors and showers to be step-free (hobless). Use floor surfaces that are slip resistant to guard against injuries.
6. Address the street
An easy to read house number at the front of your property makes it easy to find. Good external lighting and separated driveway and pedestrian entries also makes it safer.
7. Casual surveillance
For better security, design your home to have easy surveillance of play areas and the street, from the main living area and kitchen.
8. Long-term maintenance
Reduce the repair and ongoing maintenance costs of your home by using low maintenance materials.
9. Indoor air quality
Avoid materials that contain volatile organic compounds, such as paints/finishes and adhesives, which can cause irritation and allergies, and impact poorly on your health.
10. Outdoor living
Include permanently covered outdoor play and entertainment areas with a good relationship to indoor spaces to maximise your home’s access to Queensland’s favourable lifestyle and climate.
Remember to check with your local council for any specific design requirement regulations, such as set backs and plumbing standards for rainwater tanks (see also Resources for sustainable homes).