Given there has been average of about 36,700 new residential building approvals per year over the last five years (to June 2011), it is important to get sustainability incorporated into the initial design of our built environments, rather than undertake costly renovations/retrofits later on.
- Climatic factors
- Expert design advice
- Display homes
- Rebates/financial incentives
- Education and research
- Sustainable urban development
- Projects and case studies
- Demographic and household projections
- Sustainable neighbourhoods
Designing or constructing your home to perform more sustainably - be water, energy and waste efficient, safe and secure and cost-effective to operate - to meet your housing needs now and into the future can provide you with greater comfort and lifestyle opportunities, as well as on-going financial savings.
The following links can provide information whether you are buying or building a new house, or renovating/retro-fitting an existing home.
Front entry to a sustainable home
Your Home Buyers Guide
Buying a new home is the biggest decision that most people will make. The impacts of climate change and how we can all help to minimise these changes are also of concern to consumers. Homes contribute 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. There are lots of small things that we can do to reduce these impacts. Designing and building a sustainable home is one of the easiest actions you can take. It will reduce your energy and water use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be cost-effective in the long-term. The 'Your Home Buyers Guide' helps you to plan and build a sustainable home. It gives you tips and checklists to help you through the buying process as well as lots of information on sustainable design features, fixtures, fittings and finishings.
The Buyer's Guide is available from the Commonwealth Government's Your Home website.
Your Home Renovator's Guide
Renovating your home is an exciting process, but it can be daunting too. The Your Home Renovator's Guide is a useful and practical resource for renovators, giving information about ways to incorporate sustainable design and product features throughout the complex and varied renovation process.
The Guide includes tips and checklists to ensure opportunities are recognised along the way for reducing the home's environmental impact, maximising health and comfort, and saving money.
The Renovator's Guide is available from the Commonwealth Government's Your Home website.
Smart Housing—a program promoting a triple-bottom line approach to sustainable housing design that provides a range of technical information and case studies about best practice in Queensland. It also highlights the social aspects of housing design e.g. safety and security, accessibility and adaptability (universal design).
Sustainable Housing—administered through Building Codes Queensland. Sets out the minimum sustainable design measures to ensure new residential developments use water and energy more efficiently and produce less greenhouse gases.
Energy Equivalence Rating—in Queensland, all new houses and townhouse and major renovations must achieve a minimum 6-star energy equivalence rating. New unit buildings and major renovations to units must achieve a 5-star energy equivalence rating. This regulation is administered through Building Codes Queensland.
Your Home—explains many aspects of sustainable housing design and case studies, and is operated by the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO). The 'Consumer Guide' provides a general introduction to sustainable housing issues, whilst the more extensive 'Technical Manual' provides individual fact sheets detailing these issues.
Healthy Homes: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality in the Home—a booklet for designers, builders, buyers and renovators about the various air pollutants and potential health conditions associated with volatile organic compounds (VOC's), pesticides, lead, asbestos, fungi and moulds etc that can be found in and around the home. As health issues can be associated with poor indoor air quality from building products, such as paints, adhesives, finishes and carpets etc, this guide presents appropriate planning, design and maintenance measures.
Building a Sustainable Home: Design Process—this flow chart identifies the key steps to guide you through the complex building process. Incorporating sustainable housing design elements to the conventional building process can sometimes be challenging. Some builders, contractors, local councils and finance organisations are more receptive to sustainable design than others. It is important to understand the building process to better communicate your design needs at all stages to ensure you get the sustainability features you want in your home.
Climate Zones—presents Queensland's regional climatic zones as designated under the BCA.
Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) apart from the regional climatic differences across Queensland under the BCA (above), a site's local climatic conditions or its 'microclimate' can differ significantly even within a geographic region. Houses are recommended to account for these conditions through climate sensitive design. Research into local climate influences is recommended, and the BoM provides average daily and seasonal temperatures (minimums and maximums), humidity, rainfall (monthly and annual); and wind direction and speed throughout the year. This data is recorded at numerous local weather stations across Queensland, and is provided in summary form.
Sun path diagram—provides assistance with finding your home's best orientation for passive design, and are available for all locations across Queensland.
Climate Change Predictions—the CSIRO's research and modelling of what to expect with climate change, including your region of interest for the latest climate change projections which may assist with 'future-proofing' the design of your home.
Expert design advice
Both architects and building designers (previously known as 'draftsman') can provide you with sustainable housing design advice through the following services:
Archicentre—offered through the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA), this service provides professional advice and building inspections for sustainable housing design across Queensland. Call: 1300 134 513
Ecodesign Smart Building Design—offered through the Building Designers' Association of Queensland (BDAQ), this service can be used to source designers experienced with sustainable design.
Call: 07 3889 9119.
Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA)—represents building and design professionals who specialise in assessing the environmental impact of buildings. Call: 1300 889 438
Sustainable Homes Program—is providing communities throughout Queensland with 23 display homes so visitors can experience what 'sustainable housing' looks like in practical terms. The homes use Smart Housing's Design Objectives as minimum design criteria.
Sanctuary Magazine—a magazine that features case studies of contemporary sustainable homes.
Kidsafe House—situated adjacent to the Royal Children's Hospital, has extensive displays on all a spects of child injury prevention in the home. There is a fully working kitchen and bathroom as well as a poisonous plants garden. Call: 07 3854 1829.
Rainwater Tanks—fact sheet.
Greywater—information on greywater systems, and its safe use around the home and garden. fact sheets
Energy Star Rating Labelling for Appliances—energy star-rating scheme for appliances, e.g. refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers and air-conditioners.
Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards—WELS is the water star-rating scheme for appliances and fixtures, e.g. washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, showerheads and water fittings. Call: 1800 218 478.
Window Energy Rating Scheme—WERS is a star-rating system that provides information on the features and benefits of energy-efficient windows (glass and frame), window films and skylights relevant to Queensland's climate zones. Call: 02 9498 2768.
Lighting—information on energy efficient lighting for your home.
Gas in the home—the features and benefits of using gas for hot water systems, cooking appliances and home heating.
Green Power—is government accredited, clean and renewable energy sourced from the sun, wind, water or waste (via landfill sites). You can off-set your home's greenhouse gas emissions from its electricity supply through a Green Power arrangement, which is purchased on your behalf by your electricity company at a self-nominated amount. Call: 07 3224 7596.
Ecospecifier—is a national on-line database of over 3000 environmentally-preferable building products, materials, technologies and resources. Each item is independently assessed for its features before being registered. Call: 1300 669 997
Living Smart Noosa—is a Sunshine Coast orientated database of environmentally-preferable building products and services. Call: 07 5449 9650.
LifeTec Queensland (formerly Independent Living Centre)—provides assistive technology solutions and expert services for individuals to live independently in their community. Call: 1300 885 886.
Water tanks under deck
GreenSmart Builders—a list of Queensland's builders who have gained accreditation for designing and constructing environmentally-friendly houses through the Housing Industry Association's (HIA) GreenSmart training program. Call: 07 3846 1298
GreenPlumbers—a list of Queensland's plumbers who have gained accreditation in various courses for water related products and installation e.g. solar hot water, rainwater tanks and water conservation. Call: 1300 368 519
Council Water Rebates—some councils also offer separate water saving rebates which can be added to the above State Government rebates. Check with your local council customer service centre if it offers water saving rebates for householders.
Financial Institutions—A 'green loan' can offer between 0.5-1.0% reduced interest rate on a new sustainable house, home renovation or to purchase an environmentally-friendly household product. As sustainability features will also provide savings through their annual running costs for water and energy use, these savings can be potentially be re-invested back into your mortgage. The following institutions offer green loans:
Education and research
Energy savings calculator—assists in estimating the costs of your household electricity use to see where you are using it most, as well as being able to find out ways to save money on your energy bills.
Waterwise at home—fact sheets on how you can save water around your home and garden.
WaterWise Shower Calculator—estimates the volume and costs of shower water used in your household.
Healthy Home Project—was a collaborative research project that practically demonstrated how to build a healthy living environment in the home using existing off-the-shelf sustainable technologies, materials and design. The home is located at Broadbeach on Queensland's Gold Coast (but is now closed for public inspection). This link showcases the home's people-friendly and environmentally-friendly features, as well as its operational cost-savings and a virtual tour.
Research Report for Springfield Lakes Demonstration Homes—prepared by Dave Luxmoore (2005), this report provides practical examples of actual costs, experiences and recommendations from incorporating innovative design into the three sustainable homes at Springfield Lakes (Ipswich City) that were open for public display.
Research House—undertaken by the Department of Public Works and located in Rockhampton, Research House was built in 2002 as one of the first dwellings in Queensland to test and demonstrate new and innovative technologies, building practices and products in a single, sub-tropical living environment. It involves the design, construction and monitoring of an inhabited 4-bedroom house which practically demonstrates the elements of Smart Housing.
Sustainable Housing for the Tropics—Townsville City Council provides information and case studies to urban developers, builders, buyers and renovators about sustainable housing relevant for Queensland's Dry Tropical region.
Cairns Style Design Guide—has been developed to encourage those designing new buildings or renovations and extensions to existing buildings, to consider including elements of 'Cairns Style', and have their development contribute to strengthening the City's image.
Centre for Subtropical Design—based at QUT, the Centre researches and promotes high quality planning, design and development in the built environment to respond to Brisbane and South East Queensland region's cultural identity, landscape and climatic characteristics.
Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design—has been formed to promote hubs of learning, innovation and business development on sustainable design and living specifically for North Queensland's tropical environment.
Australian Conservation Foundation's "GreenHome"—a nationwide program that provides information to improve the sustainable performance of housing stock.
Green Choice Gardening—provides information on good green gardening practices for sub-tropical regions (as produced by Brisbane City Council).
Northey Street City Farm—provides advice, courses and plants promoting sustainable gardening and landscaping.
Sustainable urban development
Louvres to fern garden
Sustainable urban development is about planning, designing and constructing our built environments so that they minimise their environmental, social and economic impacts, create healthy, safe and secure communities for residents and conserve and use water and energy wisely.
Pre-design conferencing—the department advisory service for urban developers that intend to incorporate significant sustainable design features with their projects and guiding them through the Planning system.
Energy-Efficient Design for Sub-divisions—report to industry (2005) prepared by the CRC for Construction Innovation, which describes the relationship between sub-divisional layout and the dwelling's energy efficiency.
Sustainable Sub-divisions: Review of Technologies for Integrated Water Services—report to industry (2007) prepared by the CRC for Construction Innovation, which presents the benefits and issues concerning the implementation of technical solutions in an integrated water system using case study sites from South-east Queensland.
Your Development—a national website for sustainable and innovative urban developments which allows those involved in the creation of new neighbourhoods to access the latest information on sustainability issues. It is developed by CSIRO in partnership with the Australian Greenhouse Office.
Sustainable Office Retrofit—Pike Mirls McKnoulty (PMM), Fortitude Valley (2003):
Brisbane City Council's Green Heart Program - information for businesses, homes and schools to help them improve their sustainablility.
Industrial Development - Rockcote Design Centre - a sustainably designed industrial centre at Nerang on the Gold Coast that demonstrates excellence in integrating energy, water and waste efficiencies, and how such design can achieve multiple benefits, including financial, improved productivity and greater natural comfort.
Local Biodiversity—private landholders can play a vital role in providing valuable habitat and sharing their properties with our native wildlife and vegetation through either a Voluntary Conservation Agreement or Land for Wildlife schemes. Check with your council or Greening Australia as they coordinate/administer these programs with landholders. The programs have differing degrees of legal obligations as Land for Wildlife is a non-binding commitment by landowners to manage their land for conservation purposes, while Voluntary Conservation Agreements may entail a longer-term commitment by the landholder for the property. Each agreement is tailored to suit the management needs of the particular site and the needs of the landholder, and can cover part or all of a property thereby contributing to the conservation and protection of Queensland's biodiversity.
Biodiversity-Friendly Urban Development Report—a Brisbane City Council commissioned research report investigating the features and benefits of 'Nature Smart Suburbs' in the design and construction of new suburbs using 4 case studies in South-east Queensland.
South-East Queensland's 'Healthy Waterways' program has developed various tools, technical guidelines and fact sheets to assist in the planning, design and construction of water sensitive urban design elements of sustainable urban developments, such as swales, sediment basins, stormwater wetlands, sand filters and plant selection etc.
Australian Green Development Forum - AGDF is a forum that seeks to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices in the building and development industry by working in partnership with interested stakeholders.
Urban Development Institute of Australia EnviroDevelopment—a scientifically-based incentives tool to rate new urban developments for their individual design elements promoting sustainability.
Green Star—The Green Building Council of Australia's (GBCA) 'Green Star' initiative is a voluntary, performance-based star-rating tool that can assist the property industry to reduce a building's environmental impact using a range of assessment criteria (energy, water, materials, management practices, ecology etc). Separate Green Star rating tools can be applied to either new or existing buildings, which evaluate their performance over the design, construction and operational phases. There are Green Star tools for industrial buildings, retail, health, education, convention and multi-unit buildings. The GBCA only certifies buildings rated from four (4) to six (6) stars (being the highest).
NABERS (the National Australian Built Environment Rating System) is a performance-based star-rating scheme that can assist building owners, managers or tenants benchmark their building's greenhouse performance. NABERS encourages best practice in the design, operation and maintenance of a building to minimise its greenhouse emissions. The program is for existing offices, homes, hotels, shopping centres, schools, hospitals and commuter travel. With a good star-rating, developers or building owners can gain a competitive market advantage. Depending on their environmental performance, building can earn a star rating of between zero (very poor) and six (market leading).
Your Building—is the key online resource about sustainable commercial buildings in Australia. It provides information for all those involved across the building life cycle - from investors, owners, and occupiers to developers, builders, designers, and facility managers.
Projects and case studies
The following links provide detailed case studies about sustainable urban development projects, including houses, residential estates and office buildings in Queensland.
Demographic and household projections
Latest population and housing projections for Queensland prepared by Office of Economical and Statistical Research show that Queensland is forecasted to maintain significant growth with 2.7 million households by 2031 - an increase of more than 1 million since 2006. As shown in these reports, its household formation is also changing as traditional 'couple with children' household will no longer be the dominant household type and it will be superseded individually by both 'couple without children' and 'lone person household'. Queensland's ageing 'baby boomer' population will continue to increase, and will double to 1,248,600 by 2031. These statistics will have significant sustainability implications upon the design and diversity of Queensland's natural resources, housing stock & urban developments.
- Household and dwelling projection Queensland local government areas 2010
- Queensland Government Population Projections: Local Government Areas
The Your Development project is a national project led by CSIRO in partnership with the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).
The project's goal is to develop a web portal for sustainable and innovative urban developments that will allow all people involved in the creation of new neighbourhoods access to the latest information on sustainability issues.
Keep Australia Beautiful Queensland—has a range of programs to promote sustainable communities. Call: 07 3252 2886