Buying a home
A guide to sustainable housing design
2 March 2021
Whether you’re starting from scratch or renovating, a sustainable home is great for the environment and could save you money. Here’s a guide to sustainable housing design — and ways that Suncorp Bank could potentially help you finance yours.
What are the features of sustainable housing?
Defining a ‘sustainable home’ is tricky. There are many things to consider in the design, construction and operation of the home over its lifetime. However, most sustainable homes follow the same design principles and aspirations.
Heating and cooling in Aussie homes account for 40% of household energy use1 so it’s important to consider your region’s climate and the home’s potential solar orientation.
This may include floor plans that are north facing to capture the sun’s warmth during the winter months. To keep the temperature inside stable, many homes use building elements like higher thermal insulation, as well as double- or triple-glazed windows.
You can find out where and how energy and water is wasted in your home. Simply visit the Australian Government website YourHome for more information.
Aussie homes have always been large — the average floor area is 132 metres.2 This creates extra space for heating and cooling. Smaller homes, though, can achieve higher energy efficiency standards. Plus, a smaller building may lower construction costs, including the upfront and ongoing costs of a home.
You may want to make sure your home is designed for the long haul, especially if your current lifestyle changes. Will your family grow? How will your own health impact your needs in 10 or 20 years’ time? Designing a house that meets your current needs and can adapt to your changing needs, can save you the future costs of an extension or renovation. This approach is relevant when you choose appliances and furnishings, too.
How to incorporate sustainable housing design
If you’re building a new home
In Australia, new homes require smart design and construction to achieve the minimum energy efficiency requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC). However, most sustainable homes go much further.
Speak to architects, builders and property experts with proven track records in sustainable homes. Some of the factors you might want to discuss with a professional are:
- construction materials
- insulation, and
- heating and cooling.
Before commencing any work, it’s best to check what building and planning regulations apply in your state. If you want to self-build, finding a community of builders is important. The Green Building website is a great first stop for understanding suitable construction technology, methods and design.
If you’re renovating or improving an established home
You may want to improve the sustainability of your existing home by reducing demand for energy and water. You could start by changing your habits around your home, such as buying high star-rated appliances and re-setting thermostats on your heating and cooling.
If you want to get more hands-on, you might also consider simple DIY improvements such as:
- fitting weather seals to your windows and doors
- planting a drought-tolerant garden
- installing low-energy light globes
- fixing any leaky taps and installing low-flow shower heads.
For more complex jobs, like installing roofing insulation, water tanks or solar panels, get quotes from local tradespeople.
Financing your sustainable home
One important decision is what type of financing could be right for your home construction or renovation. A Suncorp Bank lending specialist can help answer your questions, and all consultations are 100% obligation free.
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