There are so many decisions to make when designing a home. Before you even start thinking about which tiles or taps to choose, consider these three words: ecologically sustainable development (ESD). The new sustainability buzz acronym may not be as satisfying as designing your dream kitchen, but it’s important.
ESD is a set of principles that weighs up environmental, social and financial factors to reduce the impact of future development. ESD considerations will affect many of your decisions, and these can often compete, requiring the skills of a good architect or designer to achieve the best outcome.
Water and Energy Efficiency:
Power and water bills are on the rise, so most householders are keenly aware of the importance of water and energy efficiency. Photovoltaic cells are cost-effective now and if wired for future battery storage they can save money and help the environment. The best way to save water and reduce your bills is to use less!
Another important ESD consideration is landscaping. Do you have sufficient green spaces on your site to absorb rainwater and minimise run-off to the sea? Is there a good mix of indigenous plants to attract native birds and bees? Have you planted big trees or deciduous vines that can provide shade in summer and allow light through in winter?
Passive Solar Design:
We know passive solar design is important, but what does it actually mean?
It means orientating windows, walls, and floors to collect, store, reflect and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar energy in the summer, without using any mechanical systems. In a perfect world, every home would be orientated with the living areas facing north.
Combining northern exposure with deep eaves allows you to capture maximum sunlight for both natural daylighting and warmth in the cooler months, and to enjoy complete shading in summer when the sun is higher in the sky.
Perth is one of the windiest cities in the world, so capturing breezes for passive cooling is not such a problem, but controlling them is important. To work out where the seasonal prevailing breezes are for your property, check out: www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/wind/selection_map.shtml.
Knowing the direction and effect of the different winds we experience in the western suburbs – such as wintry, cold nor’westerlies or hot summer easterlies will help you understand where to place windows and outdoor living area. To encourage cooling breezes to flow through your home, beautiful Breezway louvres set high and low are brilliant!
Low Embodied Energy:
This is the energy that is consumed in providing materials for the construction of your home. Transporting materials over great distances adds to its embodied energy – just as it does with food miles. So start by thinking about reusing, recycling and reimagining materials from the original house. These are all important considerations for more sustainable and liveable cities. I encourage you to consider the impact of your decisions when buying or building a new home – if for no other reason than that you will save money!
First published in The Subiaco Post 300618 | Architects Brief with Suzie Hunt