09.08.2020 Lifestyle

Sustainable Homes

Sustainable Homes

Whether you’re building, buying or selling, sustainability is a hot trend in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

We take a look at sustainable home design.

With climate change becoming ever more top-of-mind, many homeowners are actively looking to buy, build or redesign homes to be as eco-friendly as possible. And many buyers are asking us about how green a home is at open inspections. So, what does it mean to have a truly sustainable home?

Designing a sustainable home

The most sustainable homes are those that have a green remit as part of the build from the ground-up. These homes can incorporate the principles of sustainable design into every aspect of the property, from the home’s orientation to the choice of building materials.

For example, truly green homes achieve what is known as “passive” heat and cooling. One of the main ways this can be done is designing the home to include an aspect that maximises natural sunlight in the home to warm it and reduce the need for artificial lighting.

Choice of building materials is, of course, also critical, which means non-toxic materials, recycled or reused where possible, and locally sourced to reduce their environmental footprint. Construction materials are selected to create maximum ‘thermal mass’, allowing them to better absorb and store heat. This could mean concrete or clay bricks under flooring or brick or stone feature walls.

Good ventilation is another key aspect of green home design, because it ensures natural airflow throughout a home that can cool without the need for fans or air conditioning.

Add value to your home

It’s no wonder that sustainable homes tend to sell faster and for a higher price, in our experience. Besides giving homeowners the assurance that they are playing their part in combating global warming, a sustainable home means lower energy bills and a more comfortable lifestyle.

In fact, recent research from the University of Wollongong’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre found that homes with energy-saving features could be worth up to 10% more than homes without such features.

Sustainable home case study: 95 Moncur Street, Woollahra

An exemplary example of a sustainably designed home is one of our latest listings – 95 Moncur Street, Woollahra. Built in 2008, this stunning four-bedroom home was designed to the very highest standard of environmental sustainability practice by its owner – respected Sydney architect John Grove.

The house has won many architecture awards, including the 2008 Woollahra Conservation Award, and has been featured in several publications for its contemporary heritage conservation design principles. These include a long northern exposure that allows for an energy efficient cross-ventilated passive solar design.

25,000-litre capacity water tanks capture almost every drop of rainwater that falls on the property. Then, 120 solar hot water tubes on the roof heat this harvested rainwater in a 1000-litre tank, providing hydronic under-floor heating for the entire ground floor as well as the towel rails in the bathrooms. The constantly cycling closed-loop hot water supply delivers almost instant hot water at even the most remote taps, so as to not waste a drop of the precious rainwater, while the whole-of-house filtration system ensures every tap delivers beautiful filtered hot and cold water.

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The extensive use of sustainably grown Australian native timber in the home’s construction are not only renewable but also pay homage to the (now almost entirely lost) former timber buildings of Paddington and Woollahra’s past.

10 ways to make your home more sustainable

Buyers are increasingly asking us about the green credentials of homes we sell. Regardless of whether you are building from the ground up or renovating an existing property, there are many ways to make your home greener.

Go solar – Solar panels and solar water are at the top of many home buyers go-green list. Tesla batteries, which help store energy captured from solar panels and can be used for consumption, load shifting or backup power, are gaining popularity.

Install a rainwater collection tank – If this is a viable option it can make a huge difference in reducing water usage.

Choose renewable energy sources – If installing a small-scale wind turbine is out of reach, you can still seek out green energy providers that draw power from renewable sources.

Insulation – Well insulated walls, ceilings and floor improve heating and save on energy costs.

Double-glazing – Installing double-glazed windows, or even simply thermal backed curtains, help keep a home cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Choose energy-efficient appliances – Look for appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings. Choice.com.au is one good place to research.

Energy-efficient lighting – Choose eco-friendly lighting, such as LEDs, in place of regular bulbs.

Minimise waste and recycle – This is important not only in day-to-day living but also when you are building or renovating.

Sustainable landscaping – Choose native plants that are naturally self-sustaining to create natural shade and wind breaks.

Grow your own food – Homes with small gardens, or even apartments with balconies or rooftops, can be used for small-scale food production.