Material selection is essential
When designing a home, there’s more to sustainability than the orientation or the layout of the house. Materials play a big part and can impact the result dramatically. While cost will always be a driving factor, when considering the long-term benefits of your material choices, some of these initial costs may be offset over the life of the build.
‘Builders and designers should start by asking their clients, how do you feel about incorporating sustainability into your home? I look at it like taking the client on a journey. Do you want to go above and beyond or do the minimum? That will inform decisions from the start. Then help consumers select materials with lower environmental impact. Consider the low hanging fruit, such as higher levels of insulation in the ceiling or the walls. Prefabricated materials are an excellent option and help minimise onsite waste.
‘Many integrated systems provide a thermal barrier, where the insulation is sandwiched between the interior and exterior cladding layer. Green concrete is another great choice, and this is beneficial when incorporated as an exposed concrete floor to absorb, store and re-radiate heat. Select materials designed to be recoverable and reusable at the end of life, should the home be remodelled and consider the use of materials that have low volatile organic compounds to improve healthier homes for occupants.’
Colour selections also play a significant part in the process, especially for the exterior. ‘Dark-coloured roofs are in fashion, but many people don’t consider the implications. If someone needs to access your roof cavity in the height of summer, that area may be 70 or 80 degrees. At that temperature, the heat doesn’t just release upwards it also permeates into the house, ultimately costing you more to cool your home.’
The GreenSmart program is something Janine wholeheartedly supports. ‘GreenSmart is so diverse – connecting builders to industry leaders and partners and providing training, not to mention the awards that recognise the strides we’re making in this area. What has always stuck with me was how the program changed how builders approach their projects. Back in the early 2000s, I spoke to another GreenSmart builder, who said, “I want to be designing homes that have charging stations for electric cars”. He was ahead of his time.