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Tips for building a more sustainable home

By Andrew Bellino

Australia has been getting right behind the sustainable building trend. Everybody from residential builders to custom architects is considering how they can increase the ‘greenness’ of their projects, according to BCI Economics and FuturArc.

The Green Building Market Report for Australia and New Zealand in 2014 was produced by BCI and FuturArc in conjunction with the Green Building Councils of both Australia and New Zealand, and revealed some interesting insights.

According to the survey, Australian builders and architects are more involved, and intend to be more involved, with green building practices than their New Zealand counterparts.

The areas in which respondents most expected growth going forward were commercial/office construction, as well as education facilities and the multi-residential sector – all equally ranked according to the report. The next biggest area to watch is single residential construction.

Impacts for real estate in Australia

As the country embraces more sustainable strategies, the quality of properties on offer will undoubtedly increase as building practices continue to evolve inline with greener expectations. The ongoing cost of maintaining and running this new breed of residential and commercial real estate should also decrease as more research goes into materials and building efficiency, according to the BCI report.

At an individual level, many homeowners and real estate investors may decide to incorporate this trend into their own houses and portfolios.

Greening up your home

When thinking about the quality of houses for sale, it’s not hard to imagine that spending some time and money on improving the quality and energy efficiency of your dwelling will help to set it apart from the crowd.

So how can you go about improving your home and bringing it inline with the national shift in conscience? Firstly, this depends on whether or not you are building a new house or renovating your current one.

New houses can be built with a range of eco-friendly materials that will help you to save money in the long run. These range from things as out-of-the-box as rammed earth, to the more conventional autoclaved aerated concrete. Talking to a professional builder or architect will help in discovering the options that are available to you and are suitable for your environment, location and purposes.

When constructing a new dwelling, one of the most effective ways you can reduce the use of energy is to plan well. A good mix of energy-wise appliances, passive heating, cooling and air quality control systems and consideration to the role of nature in providing energy will help you to build a home that relies as little as possible on traditional power sources.

Using your current real estate more efficiently

Most of us, however, do not have the luxury of designing our dream homes and hiring architects to help us complete them – so how can you make the most out of what you have?

There are many ways to reduce waste around your home and one of the most effective is a more conscious attitude towards the environment. Many of our appliances throughout the home waste a lot of electricity simply because of the way we use them, so it may be time to do some research how to save energy in every room of the home.

A good example is cooking – according to Energy Australia, cooking in the microwave uses less energy than an oven. Thawing food in the fridge before putting it in the microwave saves even more. Constantly opening your oven door will waste heat energy.

There are plenty of ways to save on your power bill and reduce your impact on the environment, so take a walk through your home and consider your use of light, heat and power.

For those looking to make real changes to their home – consider energy efficient appliances and light bulbs. Although they may cost more, you will save in the long run. Those with a bigger budget could look at incorporating solar power or other efficient systems to reduce their reliance on the national grid. Effective insulation and other small changes can also make your home more liveable while reducing energy use.

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