In this three part series, founder and director of PassivEnergy, Rob Iacono demystifies the questions surrounding energy ratings, sustainable home building and his tips of what to consider when chatting with your builder. Today, Rob gives insight into the term ‘sustainable’ and his top ten must haves in order to build a sustainable home.
It is often thought that having a sustainable home will cost more to build and maintain, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. By making a few conscious decisions during the design stage, you can keep your build affordable and the home cheaper to run throughout the year. Here are my top ten secrets to achieving sustainable success:
The amount of sunlight capable of penetrating into your home is largely based on which way the block of land faces the sun. This is very important and having a site that orientates well in relation to the sun is the first step to succeeding in the sustainability department. Having north to either side of the house will provide a greater number of hours where the sun can penetrate through to the living areas and therefore reaches more rooms. If north faces the rear, while not as beneficial as the side, it can still allow for sunlight to enter the living areas.
North facing the front of the dwelling provides the least benefit as the front is normally reserved for one room plus the garage, and the remaining rooms will not benefit from this. Having the sun penetrating to your living areas during the winter days will mean you will come home at night to a naturally warm home.
- Design Layout
Having a good home design layout goes hand in hand with the orientation of your block. Having the living areas facing north will assist in having the warmth of the sun reach the rooms that are used the most. Bedrooms can also be orientated north or east so that they can capture the morning sun. The south side of a dwelling will not receive much sunlight, if any, so it is ideal to place rooms such as the bathroom, laundry, toilet’s and the garage to the south areas as they do not require sunlight and have little effect on the 6 star energy rating.
- Size and ceiling height
When thinking about the size of the home, keeping rooms to a moderate size will help keep it comfortable all year round. It is really important to understand that the more volume of air inside the house, the harder it is to have it stay warm in winter and cooler in summer. Some things to consider in relation to sizing:
- A master bedroom that is big enough for a queen bed, bedside table and chest of drawers.
- A lounge to accommodate only couches and a TV unit.
- Hallways / entry foyers that don’t span half the house and are two meters in width.
All these tricks work to keep the volume of air comfortable.
- Window location and size
Windows play a very important part in allowing the sun to come in during the colder months which works to heat the home for free, as opposed to having to turn on your heater or electric blanket, and consume power that you will inevitably get a bill for. Having said this, excessive windows in the wrong area will have a negative impact on your 6 star energy rating and will make it harder for your home to stay warmer during colder nights. Having too much glazing will mean that heat will escape at night and the cold air will enter. Keep south facing windows smaller and avoid wall to wall glazing in large open areas.