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Lifestyle : Energy Efficiency 2012
1HERSA1 C024 Bills offset . . . the Blue Eco display home at Winmalee, in the Blue Mountains, uses low-impact materials. Building a sustainable future Even larger homes can be eco-friendly with smart design, writes Neena Bhandari. For many, the great Austra- lian dream is still owning a large, freestanding house with a backyard. But more than ever, home owners are con- scious of their carbon footprint and the cost of running such a home. Experts say intelligent design and use of materials can make houses more energy efficient and save hun- dreds of dollars in rising water and electricity bills. Simple things such as the orienta- tion of a building, the size and posi- tion of windows and rooms, level of insulation and better use of building materials are crucial at the design stage to build a sustainable resid- ence, architects say. The general manager (southern region) of Archicentre Limited, David Hallett, says environmentally responsible design is today ''main- stream and mandated''. ''There is a minimum standard of [a] six-star energy rating for new homes across most of Australia and running costs are increasingly likely to be factored into the price of a property.'' On average, Australians are build- ing the largest homes, at an average of 214.1 square metres each dwell- ing. Hallett says bigger houses are unsustainable because they require more raw materials and energy. However, they can still be designed and built to a six-star standard. Archicentre is working with coun- cils to offer advice in the early stages of new builds or renovations. Archicentre's general manager (northern region), Ian Agnew, says the main objective of the service is to advise home owners on building and renovating in the most sustain- able way. ''Besides incorporating energy- and water-saving measures, we emphasise that the key to good design is passive design, whereby the house can better naturally heat and cool itself appropriately.'' Australia's 8 million dwellings are responsible for about 13 per cent of the country's energy use and 10 per cent of its greenhouse gas emis- sions. Each new NSW residence must adhere to the state govern- ment's Building Sustainability Index (BASIX), which sets energy and water reduction targets of up to 40 per cent. The award-winning builder Masterton Homes has about 40 set models of home designs from which customers can choose. The sales manager, James Vella, says it is easi- er to make smaller homes sustain- able but big, open-plan homes remain very popular. ''Our average size home is 280 square metres,'' he says. ''To make our buildings energy efficient, we try to maximise the ori- entation on site and work with medium or lighter colours, install rainwater tanks, ceiling and wall insulation, airconditioning units that use an inverter, which reduces energy consumption by up to 30 per cent, and use LED lights.'' Blue Eco Homes specialises in sustainability, building homes with six-star to 71G2-star energy ratings. The company's principal, Joe Mercieca, admits installing energy- efficient infrastructure, such as sol- ar panels, sustainable heating and cooling systems and energy- efficient windows, can add up to 20 per cent more to the building costs. ''But the upfront cost is offset by the ongoing savings on energy bills,'' he says. The company launched two years ago with the Merciecas' own award- winning home in Winmalee, Blue Mountains, which uses low-impact materials to enhance efficiency. What you can do How to make an existing house energy efficient. Insulate the ceiling, walls and floor. Weather-seal the doors and windows. Reduce heat load and glare with glass treatments. Place tight fitting pelmets over curtains and blinds to trap air and create a layer of insulation. Shade west-facing windows to reduce heat in summer (with external blinds, verandahs, pergolas or vegetation). Plant tree species that shade the house during summer and allow the sunshine to penetrate once they shed their leaves during winter. Install energy-saving fittings and appliances. Replace light fittings and globes with compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs . Install skylights to brighten day passageways or rooms to reduce artificial lighting use. Install solar panels and solar- boosted hot water system. Upgrade to a more energy- efficient heating system. Install ceiling sweep fans to recirculate air. Replace energy-inefficient appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers. 24 THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD Weekend Edition April 28-29, 2012 Energy efficiency SPECIAL REPORT Foilboard Australia Pty Ltd (1800 354 717) or visit www.foilboard.com.au Foilboard Australia has been manufacturing rigid panel insulation for over 20 years. This slim line insulation is not only versatile but extremely effective and of the highest quality. Foilboard uses advanced reflective technology to maximize its insulating properties, this used in conjunction with the natural insulator air, makes for a high performance product that is able to achieve and often exceed the R --Values which are required in commercial developments. Our product has been used in many high end developments due to its exceptional thermal performance and its versatility. The various thicknesses of Foilboard can be used in numerous applications including walls, under concrete slabs and ceilings. Foilboard has been manufactured to the highest of standards and will resist delamination caused by moisture or condensation. Through the positive feedback we have received working closely with many architects over the years we are positive that Foilboard not only satisfies the building code requirements but is a superior insulator. AG5060208AA-280412
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