Australia’s sustainable building movement has grown exponentially since the year 2000 when Sydney hosted the Olympic Games and demonstrated to the world that it was possible build big, beautiful, and green at the same time. But unfortunately the influence and momentum of the ‘Green Games’ seems to have missed a big portion of Australia’s building crop—detached housing.
Apart from the obvious policy and economic factors, one of the major causes of this problem is that Australian home designers can’t seem to reach a consensus on what actually constitutes ‘green’. Is a green home one that uses less energy to run, or is it one that used less energy to build? Is it a building designed to last, or is it one designed for disassembly?
Perhaps the answer is that there is no definitive answer. How can we say absolutely, “this is a sustainable house now go build it”, when every site, client, and budget is different and each building serves different purposes throughout its lifecycle?
This discussion is always robust among the Australian building design community but has gathered extra attention in the residential sector of late, courtesy of news that the German-born PassivHaus (PH) standard for sustainable residential design has well and truly reached our shores.
While most would concede that the PH movement has done wonders for the energy performance of thousands (and thousands) of residences in Europe, the majority are also sceptical about the relativity of its performance requirements to buildings not subject to European-like climates. But PH addresses many elements of passive design and our project feature on page 20 shows that designing with PH principles along with some concessions can provide a highly sustainable outcome suited to Australian conditions.
The two messages to be taken from the project are also applicable across all the articles in this magazine. The first is that ‘green’ can’t be conclusively defined but can be considered an attitude; the second is that what’s green for one isn’t necessarily green for another.
This has always been pertinent to the process of specifying and purchasing building products, which involves the balancing of all the influences like the cost, performance and purpose of the product as well as its environmental credentials. The attitude here is to be as green as possible with what you’ve got.
That’s why this issue focuses on the latest upgrades to building products that are integral to the average Australian detached dwelling. Hopefully, after reading the magazine you will be better equipped to decide what constitutes green and which materials will better aid your next sustainable residential project.
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INSIDE THE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER MAGAZINE
Lend Lease’s new prefab start-up to manufacture CLT components in Australia
Ventilated facades keeping buildings healthy
WATER MANAGEMENT & PLUMBING
Hot water system options for detached housing
WALLS, CEILINGS & INTERIOR FINISHES
A guide to different plasterboards for specialty areas
Ethernet cables powering office lighting of the future
5 smart products to watch in 2016
Fiona Winzar’s latest project shines emerald light on Australian housing
Australia’s Top Trusted Brands revealed
Information on new and exciting building and architectural products. Introduced with a full directory and how to enquire