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Design> Ten tips for sustainable housing

Whether you are building, buying or renovating, here are ten tips to consider with creating a more sustainable home.

1. Water conservation
Use water efficient appliances and fittings, such as 3-star ( or more) showerheads and water pressure-limiting devices, and include a rainwater tanks to supply water for use with gardens, toilets and laundry.

2. Natural heating and cooling (passive solar design) Good passive solar design allows your home to respond to its local climate through natural heating in winter and cooling in summer e.g. good orientation and room zoning, capturing breezes for cross-ventilation, appropriate insulation, shading (e.g. sufficient eaves), building materials (lightweight construction/thermal mass), and fixtures and finishes (e.g. skylights and window treatment). Incorporation of passive design reduces the need to rely on air conditioners/heaters. It can also indirectly promote natural daylighting and improve indoor air quality with circulating breezes providing fresh air inside the home.

3. Energy and greenhouse efficient water heatingInstall a solar, natural gas or electric heat pump hot water system to lower energy bills and reduce the single largest source of greenhouse emissions in the household.

4. Future-proof The living area and at least one bedroom and toilet on the entry level should be readily accessible from the front boundary or car space to accommodate your changing housing needs as you get older.

5. Safe floors Design floors and showers to be step-free (hobless). Use floor surfaces that are slip resistant to guard against injuries.

6. Address the streetAn easy to read house number at the front of your property makes it easy to find. Good external lighting and separated driveway and pedestrian entries also makes it safer.

7. Casual surveillanceDesign your home to have easy surveillance to play areas and the street from the main living area and kitchen for better security.

8. Long-term maintenanceReduce the repair and ongoing maintenance costs of your home by using low maintenance materials.

9. Indoor air qualityAvoid materials that contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), such as paints/finishes and adhesives, which can cause irritation and allergies, and impact poorly on your health.

10. Outdoor livingInclude permanently covered outdoor play and entertainment areas with a good relationship to indoor spaces to maximise your home’s access to Queensland’s favorable lifestyle and climate.

Remember to check with your local council for any specific design requirement regulations, such as set backs and plumbing standards for rainwater tanks (see also Resources section).

Last updated April 2008

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Department of Public Works
Illuminating Engineering Society
Australian Green Development Forum
Bendigo Bank
Housing Industry Association
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Urban Development Institute of Australia        Australian Institute of Architects
Planning Institute of Australia
Queensland Master Builders Association
Queensland Government