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At BY Projects we strongly encourage all of our clients to embrace Sustainable Building Practise. We design ecologically integrated sustainable buildings because we care about the environment, the community and built form.
In Architecture, the term sustainability refers to the philosophy of designing the built environment to comply with the fundamental principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability. By regulation all residential buildings must adhere to a 6 star energy rating, and commercial buildings to their maximum GREEN STAR ratings; however, we endeavour to look to creating Carbon Zero Buildings.
At BY Projects we also provide Sustainable Building Statements, Storm Water Ratings and BESS Reports.
Buildings designed in response to climate and local conditions are more comfortable and cheaper to live in. Local conditions such as solar access, slope, prevailing winds, and trees offer advantageous solutions for passive heating, cooling, and ventilation. By siting and orientating new buildings optimally around these conditions the built form will naturally achieve comfort. It’s possible that when passive design principles are utilised to their fullest extent no active heating or cooling systems will be required.
Before considering producing energy on-site, consider reducing the energy demand. Passive design goes a long way in minimising energy demand, and this is furthered by selecting efficient household appliances and fixtures. Renewable’s energy production options include wind and hydro options, however, in Australia solar (PV) panels are the most common option and they can pay for themselves within 3-5 years!
The primary factor to consider when selecting materials is embodied energy. Responsible materials are naturally occurring, renewable or recycled. Locally-sourced materials reduce transport based energy. Insulating well helps to block unwanted summer heat and prevent the escape of warmth during winter. Clever use of materials with high thermal mass such as stone, brick, concrete and rammed earth will stay cooler for longer in summer and hold heat longer in winter. Reducing waste and recycling is achieved during the construction process via working collaboratively with the builder.
Similar to energy, reducing water demand is the first step. This can be achieved with low-flow taps and showerheads, and efficient (WELS rated) appliances and toilet cisterns. The next step is retaining water on-site. Rainwater is collected from roofs and stored in above or below ground tank systems, this can be used for flushing toilets or even treated for drinking water. Storm water will potentially run off-site and pollute local waterways and drains, but instead, it can be retained on-site with rain gardens and permeable materials. Greywater from household appliances can be collected and treated on-site for watering gardens.
Depending on the extent of passive design principles employed you can expect build costs to be marginally higher. However, the increased build costs must be balanced against lower occupancy costs and the benefit of passive design. As an example, consider a 6-star ‘standard’ house vs a 6-star passive solar house. Where the standard house has not taken advantage of passive heating/cooling solutions, it must make up for it with higher performance double glazing and insulation, resulting in increased build costs.
Beyond 6 Star
There is a hierarchy of options for sustainable development ranging from 6-star, Green Buildings, net-zero carbon, all the way to through to carbon positive buildings. 6-star energy ratings are a minimum requirement under the Australian Building Code. Carbon positive buildings challenge the norm of buildings as consumers by producing more water and energy than they consume.