Given that between 35,000 to 40,000 new dwellings per year have been built in Queensland during recent times, it is important to get sustainability incorporated into the initial design of our built environments, rather than undertake costly renovations/retrofits later on. Designing or constructing your home to perform more sustainably - be water, energy and waste efficient, accessible, safe and secure and cost-effective to operate - to meet your housing needs now and into the future can provide you with greater comfort and lifestyle opportunities, as well as on-going financial savings.
A range of information on sustainable housing is presented below whether you are buying or building a new house or renovating/retro-fitting an existing home.
- Smart & Sustainable Homes – fact sheet
- Smart and Sustainable Homes – a program promoting a triple-bottom line approach to sustainable housing design that provides a range of technical information and case studies about best practice in Queensland. It also highlights the social aspects of housing design e.g. safety and security, accessibility and adaptability (universal design).
- Sustainable Housing Regulations – From March 1 2009, all new houses and units in Queensland must achieve a minimum 5 stars (out of 10) energy equivalent rating under the new sustainable housing regulations. This is an increase from the current minimum rating of 3.5 to 4.
The Premier announced the new regulations on 14 December 2008 after a three-month consultation on the Improving sustainable housing in Queensland discussion paper. The regulations contain five measures to improve the sustainability performance of homes that call for smarter design and technologies to cover new and existing houses and units.
For new houses (Class 1 buildings) and major renovations:
- The Queensland Development Code and Building Code of Australia (BCA) 2009 will be amended to require a minimum energy rating of 5 stars (out of 10) when using the verification method
- Deemed-to-satisfy provisions outlined in part 3.12 of the BCA and verification using a reference building outlined in V188.8.131.52 of the BCA will remain as assessment methods to achieve a 5-star energy equivalent rating
- Software that complies with the Australia Building Codes Board Protocol for House Energy Rating software Version 2006.1 must be used when assessing compliance through verification method V184.108.40.206 of the BCA
- Peer review by an expert is an additional compliance option
The energy rating applies to the building shell: roof, walls, windows and floors. Designers and architects must consider orientation of the house, location of the rooms, amount of insulation, window size and location, ventilation and shading (eaves and awnings) in order to achieve a 5 star rating.
- Your Home–
explains many aspects of sustainable housing design and case studies, and is operated by the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO). The 'Consumer Guide' provides a general introduction to sustainable housing issues, whilst the more extensive 'Technical Manual' provides individual fact sheets detailing these issues.
- Healthy Homes: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality in the Home – a booklet for designers, builders, buyers and renovators about the various air pollutants and potential health conditions associated with volatile organic compounds (VOC's), pesticides, lead, asbestos, fungi and moulds etc that can be found in and around the home. As health issues can be associated with poor indoor air quality from building products, such as paints, adhesives, finishes and carpets etc, this guide presents appropriate planning, design and maintenance measures.
- WaterWise gardening
- WaterWise at home
- EnergyWise Tips
- Design Objectives - booklet
- Design for Queensland’s Climate – booklet
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- Display Homes - a summary of ex-display homes and urban developments that have incorporated sustainable design features.
- Virtual Sustainable Home - take a tour around Brisbane City Council's sustainable house.
- Sanctuary Magazine - a magazine that features case studies of contemporary sustainable homes.
- Kidsafe House – situated adjacent to the Royal Children's Hospital, has extensive displays on all aspects of child injury prevention in the home. There is a fully working kitchen and bathroom as well as a poisonous plants garden. Call: 07 3854 1829.
- Climate Zones – presents Queensland's regional climatic zones as designated under the BCA.
- Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) – apart from the regional climatic differences across Queensland under the BCA (above), a site's local climatic conditions or its 'microclimate' can differ significantly even within a geographic region. Houses are recommended to account for these conditions through climate sensitive design. Research into local climate influences is recommended, and the BoM provides average daily and seasonal temperatures (minimums and maximums), humidity, rainfall (monthly and annual); and wind direction and speed throughout the year. This data is recorded at numerous local weather stations across Queensland, and is provided in summary form.
- Sun path diagram – provides assistance with finding your home's best orientation for passive design, and are available for all locations across Queensland.
- Climate Change Predictions – the CSIRO's research and modelling of what to expect with climate change, including your region of interest for the latest climate change projections which may assist with 'future-proofing' the design of your home.
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Expert design advice
Both architects and building designers (previously known as 'draftsman') can provide you with sustainable housing design advice through the following services:
- Archicentre – offered through the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA), this service provides professional advice and building inspections for sustainable housing design across Queensland. Call: 1300 134 513.
- Ecodesign Smart Building Design– offered through the Building Designers Association of Queensland (BDAQ), this service can be used to source designers experienced with sustainable design. Call: 07 3889 9119.
- Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA) - represents building and design professionals who specialise in assessing the environmental impact of buildings. Call: 02 93790400.
- Glass and Windows - to assist industry practitioners with sourcing and specification of windows with regulatory requirements.
- Energy Advisory Service–provides impartial, free advice on energy efficiency and renewable energy systems for householders. Call: 1300 369 388.
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- Buyer's Guide - this Your Home publication explains what to look for and the important questions to ask when buying a home.
- Smart and Sustainable Homes checklist - developed as part of the EPA's ClimateSmart Living program, this DIY checklist asks a series of simple questions about the sustainable design performance of your existing home. It covers environmental issues like water and energy, as well as social issues like safety, security and accessibility. Upon completion, it provides personalised results and recommendations that can be used to assist you with home improvements - ranging from simple, short-term measures to long-term measures
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- Rainwater Tanks – fact sheet.
- Greywater – information on greywater systems, and its safe use around the home and garden.
- Solar Hot Water Systems – fact sheet.
- Insulation – fact sheet.
- Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand (ICANZ) - for detailed information on effective insulation to improve comfort and health in the home. Call: 1300 363 742.
- Air-Conditioners – fact sheet on how to purchase and reduce its running cost.
- Energy Star Rating Labelling for Appliances – energy star-rating scheme for appliances e.g. refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers and air-conditioners.
- Water Efficiency and Labelling Standards – WELS is the water star-rating scheme for appliances and fixtures e.g. washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, showerheads and water fittings. Call: 1800 803 772.
- Window Energy Rating Scheme - WERS is a star-rating system that provides information on the features and benefits of energy-efficient windows (glass and frame), window films and skylights relevant to Queensland's climate zones. Call: 02 9498 2768.
- Lighting – energy-efficient lighting fact sheet.
- Green Power – is government accredited, clean and renewable energy sourced from the sun, wind, water or waste (via landfill sites). You can off-set your home's greenhouse gas emissions from its electricity supply through a Green Power arrangement, which is purchased on your behalf by your electricity company at a self-nominated amount. Call: 07 3224 7596.
- Ecospecifier – is a national on-line database of over 3000 environmentally-preferable building products, materials, technologies and resources. Each item is independently assessed for its features before being registered.
Call: 1300 669 997
- LifeTec Queensland (formerly Independent Living Centre) – provides assistive technology solutions and expert services for individuals to live independently in their community. Call: 1300 885 886.
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- GreenSmart Builders – a list of Queensland's builders who have gained accreditation for designing and constructing environmentally-friendly houses through the Housing Industry Association's (HIA) GreenSmart training program. Call: 07-3846 1298.
- GreenPlumbers - a list of Queensland's plumbers who have gained accreditation in various courses for water related products and installation e.g. solar hot water, rainwater tanks and water conservation. Call: 1300 368 519.
- Clean Site program - Keep Australia Beautiful Queensland's Clean Site program promotes cleaner site practices during building and construction. It offers practical demonstration days and information sessions for industry, as well as a range of fact sheets for tradespeople and the home renovator. Call: 07-3252 2886.
- Business Council for Sustainable Energy – provides listings for accredited renewable energy installers. Call: 03 9349 3077.
- Solar Hot Water Rebate Program - a $1000 Federal Government rebate is available to existing householders who replace their electric hot water system with either a solar or gas hot water system. Households must have a total income of less than $100,000 per year. Applicants can also claim the separate Renewable Energy Certificates (REC's).
- Renewable Energy Certificates - most solar and heat pump hot water systems are eligible to receive Renewable Energy Certificates (REC's). Registered Agents will generally pay the REC's at point-of-sale to the purchaser. REC's are subject to market fluctuation.
- Home WaterWise Rebate Scheme (Queensland-wide) – is a package of separate incentives offered by the Queensland Government to assist householders save on purchase and installation costs for water saving items like rainwater tanks and piping, washing machines, dishwashers, pool covers, showerheads, dual flush toilets, greywater systems and Home WaterWise packages. Call: 1800 243 585.
- Council Water Rebates - some councils also offer separate water saving rebates which can be added to the above State Government rebates. Check with your local council customer service centre if it offers water saving rebates for householders.
- Home Garden WaterWise Rebate Scheme – offers all Queensland householders rebates for defined garden products to obtain a one-off rebate of 50% of the total purchase cost up to a maximum rebate of $50 (only one claim per household). The garden products cover native or drought resistant plants (excludes annuals, seeds, vegetables, fruit trees, edible herbs, turf and indoor plants), soils and mulches that may be either organic (e.g. bark chips, sugar cane) or inorganic (e.g. pebbles), compost bins or worm farms and water crystals/soil wetting agents. Call: 1800 243 585.
- Brisbane City Council's Sustainable Development – information on incentives, policies and guidelines for multi-unit residential buildings.
- Photovoltaic (Solar) Energy Supply – fact sheet. This Federally funded, state administered rebate offers financial assistance for Queensland households, schools, community use buildings and development sites for the installation of a PV system
- Local Biodiversity – private landholders can play a vital role in providing valuable habitat and sharing their properties with our native wildlife and vegetation through either a Voluntary Conservation Agreement or Land for Wildlife schemes. Check with your council or Greening Australia as they coordinate/administer these programs with landholders. The programs have differing degrees of legal obligations as Land for Wildlife is a non-binding commitment by landowners to manage their land for conservation purposes, while Voluntary Conservation Agreements may entail a longer-term commitment by the landholder for the property. Each agreement is tailored to suit the management needs of the particular site and the needs of the landholder, and can cover part or all of a property thereby contributing to the conservation and protection of Queensland's biodiversity.
- Financial Institutions – A 'green loan' can offer between 0.5-1.0% reduced interest rate on a new sustainable house, home renovation or to purchase an environmentally-friendly household product. As sustainability features will also provide savings through their annual running costs for water and energy use, these savings can be potentially be re-invested back into your mortgage. The following institutions offer green loans:
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Education and research
- EnergyWise Calculator – assists in estimating the costs of your household electricity use to see where you are using it most, as well as being able to find out ways to save money on your energy bills.
- WaterWise at Home – provides information on how you can save water around your home and garden.
- WaterWise Shower Calculator – estimates the volume and costs of shower water used in your household.
- Healthy Home Project - was a collaborative research project that practically demonstrated how to build a healthy living environment in the home using existing off-the-shelf sustainable technologies, materials and design. The home is located at Broadbeach on Queensland's Gold Coast (but is now closed for public inspection). This link showcases the home's people-friendly and environmentally-friendly features, as well as its operational cost-savings and a virtual tour.
- Designing for Sustainable Living: Learning Object – developed as a Year of the Built Environment (YBE) 2004 project, this online curriculum resource is for Middle and Senior Years of schooling. Built by Education Queensland's Distance Learning Unit in consultation with the Department of Public Works' Built Environment Research Unit and the Department of Housing's Smart Housing project team, the learning object addresses sustainability in the home environment through a range of sustainable housing issues.
- Research Report for Springfield Lakes Demonstration Homes – prepared by Dave Luxmoore (2005), this report provides practical examples of actual costs, experiences and recommendations from incorporating innovative design into the three sustainable homes at Springfield Lakes (Ipswich City) that were open for public display.
- Research House – undertaken by the Department of Public Works and located in Rockhampton, Research House was built in 2002 as one of the first dwellings in Queensland to test and demonstrate new and innovative technologies, building practices and products in a single, sub-tropical living environment. It involves the design, construction and monitoring of an inhabited 4-bedroom house which practically demonstrates the elements of Smart Housing.
- Energy Efficient Design for Tropical Queensland - a report summarising leading stakeholder issues from a workshop conducted in Townsville in February 2005 to gain a better understanding of appropriate passive design for Queensland's tropical environment.
- Sustainable Housing for the Tropics - Townsville City Council provides information and case studies to urban developers, builders, buyers and renovators about sustainable housing relevant for Queensland’s Dry Tropical region.
- Cairns Style Design Guide - has been developed to encourage those designing new buildings or renovations and extensions to existing buildings, to consider including elements of 'Cairns Style', and have their development contribute to strengthening the City's image.
- Energy-Efficient Design for Sub-divisions – report to industry (2005) prepared by the CRC for Construction Innovation, which describes the relationship between sub-divisional layout and the dwelling's energy efficiency.
- Sustainable Sub-divisions: Review of Technologies for Integrated Water Services - report to industry (2007) prepared by the CRC for Construction Innovation, which presents the benefits and issues concerning the implementation of technical solutions in an integrated water system using case study sites from South-east Queensland.
- Your Development - is a national website for sustainable and innovative urban developments which allows those involved in the creation of new neighbourhoods to access the latest information on sustainability issues. It is developed by CSIRO in partnership with the Australian Greenhouse Office.
- Centre for Subtropical Design – based at QUT, the Centre researches and promotes high quality planning, design and development in the built environment to respond to Brisbane and South East Queensland region's cultural identity, landscape and climatic characteristics.
- Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design – has been formed to promote hubs of learning, innovation and business development on sustainable design and living specifically for North Queensland's tropical environment.
- Australian Conservation Foundation's 'GreenHome' - a nationwide program that provides information to improve the sustainable performance of housing stock.
- Green Choice Gardening - provides information on good green gardening practices for sub-tropical regions (as produced by Brisbane City Council).
- Northey Street City Farm - provides advice, courses and plants promoting sustainable gardening and landscaping.
- Housing Design for All: Universal Housing Design in Queensland - prepared by the Public Advocate, this paper outlines the major issues associated with access and housing, including recommendations that could be adopted by Governments and industry.
- A Community for All Ages: Building the Future – Australian Government report on findings and recommendations from the National Speakers Series on Ageing in Place.
- Building Commission (Victoria): Welcome - Design Ideas for Accessible Homes – is a comprehensive guide to designing accessible homes. It is illustrated with drawings and photographs that show you how to improve access in and around a home for all people, irrespective of their age or mobility. It encourages people to make their homes or building projects more functional and more accessible to friends and family, thereby making everyone feel 'welcome'. Welcome goes through room-by-room offering helpful advise and tips.
- Choice Magazine – operated by the Australian Consumers' Association, it undertakes independent tests and research to better inform consumers about household products, such as whitegoods, rainwater tanks and showerheads etc.
- Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Guidelines - CPTED shows how to design our built environment in ways to lessen or prevent the incidence of crime. These guidelines have been developed for developers and councils to plan, design and build safer urban communities.
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Last updated February 2010