With the worldwide push to reduce carbon emissions in full force, Australians living in the tropics are getting onboard with eco housing. From new builds to revamps, homeowners are now looking to more eco friendly construction methods and materials.
Sustainability is, of course, at the forefront of the eco housing movement. Not only is this good news for the environment, but for builders, too. If the trend of building and renovating, using eco methods continues, it may just create a boom in the construction industry.
Before you go rushing in, you should first understand that not all eco houses are created equal. It is important to take a number of factors into consideration, prior to drawing up the plans for your build or renovations.
The sunlight levels and temperature for your area should be your first consideration. The design of your home, including which direction each wall faces, should wholly rely on the positions of the sun throughout the day, for instance.
Wind is another important factor to consider, when planning eco construction. You can actually plan your ventilation in such a way that it takes advantage of the wind. So, essentially, the orientation of your home should take full advantage of the available sunlight and wind.
Ideally, you should orientate your home so that the shortest walls are the first to feel the effects of the sun. The longer side of your home is where you want the least exposure to the sun. As such, you will want to have the longest side built from east to west.
For your living area, reserve space to the north of the property. Similarly, plan your bedrooms so that they are all located at the most southern point in your home. However, the orientation of your home is only one part of ensuring the building is sufficiently shaded.
Obviously, plants and trees are the most eco friendly method of providing shade. To create further shading, however, it is good practice to go all out with your eaves.
If you want to build a heat trap, make sure that you have lots of enclosed spaces throughout your home. However, if you want an airy, cooler home which doesn’t drive your electricity bills through the roof, you will want to encourage ventilation.
An open-plan home allows heat to dissipate much more quickly, helping your home stay cool in the tropical heat. There are also other ways to promote airflow, which will further aid overall ventilation.
An increased number of windows or doors, per room, is great for allowing air to pass through all areas of the home. With the right design, wind will send a welcome breeze which will cool every room in the property.
Light but durable building materials are essential, in the construction of an eco house albeit building codes for cyclone areas can inhibit the use of certain materials. The entire purpose of sustainable housing is reducing energy costs, as well as reducing carbon emissions. Using light building materials goes a long way towards cutting down AC usage, which addresses both issues.
Lightweight materials work well in eco housing in two ways: The amount of heat absorbed during the day is significantly lower, and heat escapes much more quickly when the sun goes down.
Homeowners in cooler climates use insulation to keep heat in; however, homeowners in the tropics can use insulation to keep heat out. There are different grades of insulation, so make sure to discuss the heat reflective properties of insulation with your builder.
Finally, colour plays a huge part in ensuring that your home is eco friendly. Light colours for your roof and walls will help reflect sunlight. Less sunlight absorbed into your home results in greater energy efficiency.
There are also paints and other treatment options which are specifically designed for eco housing. If your builder is not familiar with these products, most major suppliers will either have information on our carry products designed for use in eco housing projects.