Building a sustainable home

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Introduction

Why go beyond BASIX?

List of resources to help you

Other resources to inspire

Introduction

Building and construction activities produce approximately 23% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. Whether you are constructing a new home or renovating, your impact on the environment can be significant. However, you can decrease this impact while increasing the liveability and amenity of your home by implementing various sustainable aspects into your design.

Building a sustainable house is not about having every green aspect represented, but rather including what is close to your heart and what fits your budget and lifestyle. For example, a family with an asthmatic child may want to spend more on a healthy indoor environment (low-VOC paints, design for good air circulation, recycled timber flooring instead of carpets etc.) but may choose not to include greywater recycling. However, a family that has a big backyard and live near the bush may want an extra-large rainwater tank and a greywater recycling system for their garden needs, as well for backup in case of bush fire.

A good brief to your architect and/or builder of all your priorities along with the budget is the first step. What you have seen in a magazine may not be suitable for the site you are in. Having a 10-star home is great but not always necessary. Good design suits the features of the site, minimises disruptions to land and waterways and takes into account the local climate. It is also about making sure that the house will serve you for various life stages ie. its liveability.

 

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Why go beyond BASIX?

Since 2007, all new NSW residential developments with a total estimated cost of works of $50,000 or more have required BASIX certification. The BASIX system, which sets the baseline sustainability standards for thermal comfort, energy and water use for new residential development, is implemented at the development assessment stage.

Under BASIX, all new residential developments in NSW must be designed and built to use 40 per cent less mains water and produce 40 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than average housing of the same type prior to the commencement of the scheme in 2004. The BASIX tool also enables a range of sustainability commitments to be adopted by the developer to increase the development's sustainability score.

However, BASIX does not consider the materials used within the development and does not provide developers with incentives to use recyclable materials. BASIX also fails to consider the energy usage and emissions resulting from construction activities.

This resource created by Ku-ring-gai Council can help you meet and go beyond BASIX requirements so you can build, renovate or retrofit your home sustainably. In a smart and sustainable home you will be able to move around more easily, feel safer, save money, help the environment and live in your own home through all stages of your life (ageing-in-place).

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Learn more

  1. NABERS
  2. Eco Easy Home app

This app uses a scoring system to rate your home in terms of its ecological, thermal and sustainable design. With a total score out of 200, a home with a score of 120 is doing pretty well. When buying, you can look for homes facing north, ask relevant questions, enter information as you inspect homes, sort houses by what is important to you, take photos with compass readings of the direction the room faces etc. The home score report about your home’s performance makes it easy for you when you want to sell.

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List of resources to help you

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Other resources to inspire

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Disclaimer

This guide provides a range of actions you can take to make your home more sustainable. Before following any of these options, it is important that you consider what is best suited to your own circumstances. Reference in this guide to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favour by Ku-ring-gai Council.  Similarly, where website links are provided, they do not constitute endorsement of an organisation, or the information, products or services contained therein.  Please make your own enquiries and judgement before considering buying any product or seeking a service or when interpreting these materials and applying them to your individual circumstances. Ku-ring-gai Council does not guarantee the achievement of outcome and shall not be liable to compensate any person for loss or damage resulting from the use of information in this Guide.