Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
What is sustainable housing?
Sustainable housing considers the design, construction and operation of your house over its lifetime, in three contexts:
- environmental sustainability, which considers things like water, energy, emissions, waste, vegetation, pollutants and contamination
- economic sustainability, which considers things like cost and materials for construction, utilities, property charges, maintenance, upgrades and major replacements, and resale value
- socialsustainability, which considers things like aesthetics, safety, security, accessibility, functionality, future modifications and liveability for future generations.
How to make your house sustainable
Consider the climate
When planning your home, think about the climate conditions in the area where you’re building. Climate-responsive design for new homes can cater for present and future predicted weather patterns like temperature, heat waves and rainfall variability. It can also minimise the impact from the urban heat island effect, where there is a high amount of hardened surfaces and little vegetation in the neighbouring area.
Maximise sustainability opportunities
Many features within a house can provide the opportunity to address more than one form of sustainability. For example, a well-designed bathroom with a stepless shower, non-slip finishes, handrails and water efficient fixtures can provide:
- environmental benefits (e.g. using less of a valuable resource and creating less wastewater)
- economic benefits (e.g. reduced hot and cold water running costs)
- social benefits (e.g. safe accessibility for people of different ages and abilities).
Making changes to your existing home
Climate-responsive design can also be applied when retrofitting existing homes. For example, you can minimise the need to use air conditioning in summer by using passive features such as:
- using lighter colours on your home’s external surfaces
- adding shade via wide eaves and window awnings
- promoting ventilation through the house
- adding insulation in the roof.
Taking steps like this can also minimise energy costs and improve your comfort.
More information on sustainable homes can be found at the Your Home website, including expert and independent advice to everyone interested in building homes for a sustainable future. Further information on climate-responsive design within the broader urban environment can be found at QDesign Manual (PDF, 8.9MB) , developed by the Queensland Government Architect.