Sustainable Design Initiatives in Melbourne

Recently we were asked to send through our observations and thoughts on how design and build has developed during the past 20 years,  focusing on the Melbourne councils of Stonnington and Boroondara for Melbourne Weekly’s final edition.

The following is what we had to say:

Sustainable Design Initiatives in Melbourne

Environmentally Sustainable Design endeavours to reduce the impacts of the construction and use of buildings on the natural environment, in addition to improving the comfort of inhabitants. When renovating or building a new home, there are many simple design principles that enhance the sustainability of a home.

Recent changes to the Planning and Building Regulations have made achieving 6 Star Energy Efficiency a mandatory requirement for all new homes, alterations and additions to existing homes. These initiatives should be seen as a “good start” but not the “be all and end all” to following sustainable design practices in your home.

This is particularly relevant to the established suburbs found in Boroondara and Stonnington , as many land owners and developers look to renovate, extend and redevelop sites in these areas.

Land owners need to be mindful of these standards and ensure sustainable design principles are considered at all stages of the planning, design and building processes.

We find that initially, many clients are wary of these “green” initiatives, but through the design and planning stages, the long term financial benefits of implementing sustainable design makes good sense.

Many of our new developments are achieving 7, 8 and 9 Star energy efficiency, without imposing a significant increase in construction costs. Our aim to help our clients identify areas for improvement and work with them to facilitate the change. It is certainly worth the effort, even if your motivations aren’t driven by the environmental benefits of sustainable design.

Sustainable design is aimed at keeping houses cool in summer and warm in winter to reduce energy use. Up to 40% of energy use in the home is used for heating and cooling. It is our aim to reduce this impact.

Passive solar design is a major component of how we implement sustainable design initiatives. We achieve this by striving to:

–              orientate the building to the north to allow solar gain in winter

–              orientate the building to allow for cooling breezes to cool the house in summer

–              provide thermal mass to store heat and radiate heat at night

–              provide shading of summer sun through the use of eaves and shading of the sun from the west and east through vegetation, blinds or shutters.

Sustainable design is also about designing buildings with people in mind. This includes:

–              ensuring accessibility for the young and aged throughout the house

–              using products with low maintenance requirements

–              addressing the street for access and safety.

There is a range of other actions that can enhance the sustainability of your home such as:

–              installing energy and water efficient fittings

–              purchasing water and energy efficient appliances

–              double glazing windows

–              providing natural light

–              fit-for-purpose lighting

–              installation of water tanks for harvesting water (water can be used in the garden)

–              grouping wet areas together to shorten plumbing runs

–              plan space efficiently – don’t build more than you need and make spaces adaptable.

These simple steps are followed in every single development we are involved in. As Pillar and Post grows, we become more efficient and knowledgeable about ESD approaches. We strongly encourage our clients to get involved early in the process to make ESD practices organic to the overall building design.