What is a sustainable and energy efficient home?

As leading builders in sustainable and energy efficient homes, our clients always ask us for more information on this topic.

They are often confused by all of the terminology around eco-friendly homes and are interested in how our building practices are able to reduce their energy bills. In this article we’ll answer a number of questions that are frequently asked by our clients about sustainable housing.

What is Sustainable a home?

A sustainable building is also called a green building or green construction. It refers to a building that uses materials and processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient, throughout a building’s life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Thompson Sustainable Homes are the leading Queensland and West Australian builders of sustainable homes.

The Bloom 159 Energy Efficient Home

What is a Healthy Home?

A “healthy house” is a dwelling built from environmentally friendly construction materials, and includes furnishings and operating systems that do not contribute to the ill health of its residents. As successful Perth and Sunshine Coast home builders, Thompson Sustainable Homes are the leaders in building healthy homes for Queenslanders.

What is a Smart Home?

A smart house has highly advanced automatic systems for lighting, temperature control, multi-media, security, window and door operations, as well many multi-purpose rooms that are designed to change with the family needs. The home will cater for different age groups, as well as different races of people and is a design for both today and for the future.

What is an Affordable Home?

Affordable housing is deemed to be within the means of families with a median household income.
In Australia, the National Affordable Housing Summit Group developed their definition of affordable housing, as housing that is:

“…reasonably adequate in standard and location for lower or middle income households and does not cost so much that a household is unlikely to be able to meet other basic needs on a sustainable basis”

At Thompson Sustainable Homes our goal is to provide affordable house and land packages in Queensland and West Australia to all of our customers.

What is Energy Efficiency?

Energy efficiency simply means using less energy to provide the same service or achieve the same result. It is about doing things smarter or with improved technology, and resulting in no drop in service or level of comfort to the occupants. An energy efficient home helps you to use less energy, as well as save money and reduce your impact on the environment. As a local Perth and Sunshine Coast builder, we are renowned for building energy efficient homes for our clients in Queensland and Western Australia.

What is a Zero energy Home?

The terms ‘zero energy’, ‘zero carbon’ or ‘zero emissions’ are applied to buildings that use renewable energy sources on-site to generate energy for their operation. This means that over a year, the net amount of energy generated on-site equals the net amount of energy required by the building.

Designing a zero energy home can be quite complex, as each design solution must be tailored to the specific location. As leading Sunshine Coast and Perth builders, Thompson Sustainable Homes specialise in designing and building energy efficient and zero energy homes. Call us today and ask about our Eco-friendly West Australia and Sunshine Coast house and land packages.

What is BERS?

BERS (Building Energy Rating Scheme) is the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) family software tool. It is a star rating system that rates the energy efficiency of a home, based on its design.

What is Greensmart?

Greensmart was established by the HIA (Housing Industry Association) to promote practical, affordable and durable environmental solutions for residential design and construction. Greensmart accredited homes are a showcase of environmentally responsible housing design and we have a number of Perth, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast house and land opportunities available for our clients.

The main goals of a Greensmart accreditation is to:

  1. Improve the energy, resource and water efficiency of homes.
  2. Enable home-owners to waste less and recycle more.
  3. Create healthier homes for occupants.

The benefits of a Greensmart home include lower energy and water bills, a warmer house in winter and a cooler house in summer, a healthier home for the occupants and less waste going to landfill during construction and demolition.

What are unassisted star energy ratings for homes?

House and land packages in Queensland and West Australia are required to achieve a Six Star Energy Rating to meet legislative requirements. Should a home only reach five stars, an extra star may be granted if solar panels or an alfresco fan is installed and this home would then rate at Six Stars, however its rating would be considered to be ‘assisted’. If a home already reaches Six Stars, it cannot use assistance measures to boost the star rating to Seven Stars or higher, it will remain a Six Star home.

Many other Perth and Queensland builders claim to have achieved Ten Star Energy Rated Homes; however they are wrongly using the assistance method to achieve this rating. At Bells Reach on the Sunshine Cost, Thompson Sustainable Homes has built a home that has reached a Ten Star Building Energy Rating without any form of assistance – setting a new benchmark for the building industry and for Perth, Brisbane and Gold Coast builders.

What this means to the owner of the home in Bells Reach is that the heating and cooling load on the home is lessened. This means that electricity bills will be significantly lower and the home will have natural air flowing through the house on more days of the year – compared to lower star rated homes, which rely heavily on mechanical and/or artificial heating and cooling.

What is energy efficiency orientation?

A home that is well positioned on its block delivers significant lifestyle and environmental benefits to the home owners. As successful Perth and Brisbane builders, we know that correct orientation assists passive heating and cooling, resulting in improved comfort and decreased energy bills.

Orientation is about the position of your site and your home, in relation to the things around it including the street, neighbouring buildings and of course, the angle of the sun and the wind that will be used to heat and cool your hom

What is thermal mass?

Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb heat energy. A lot of heat energy is required to change the temperature of high density materials like concrete, bricks and tiles and they are therefore said to have high thermal mass. Lightweight materials on the other hand, such as timber, have low thermal mass.

The correct use of thermal mass by Queensland and West Australia home builders helps to moderate the internal temperatures by averaging day and night (diurnal) extremes. This increases comfort and reduces energy costs for home owners. Poor use of thermal mass however, can exacerbate the worst extremes of the climate and can be a huge energy and comfort liability.

A home with poor thermal mass can radiate heat all night during a summer heatwave or absorb all the heat you produce on a winter night. To be effective, thermal mass must be integrated with sound passive design techniques.

As experienced West Australia and Queensland home builders, we know that the appropriate use of thermal mass throughout your home can make a big difference to the comfort of your family and your heating and cooling bills.

What is passive design?

A home built with a passive design does not require mechanical heating or cooling at any time day or night or throughout the winter or summer. Instead, homes that are passively designed take advantage of the natural climate to maintain thermal comfort for their occupants.

What is passive cooling?

This is the least expensive means of cooling a home with the lowest environmental impact and is appropriate for all Australian climates. Passive cooling, which is a signature of our house and land packages on the Sunshine Coast and Perth, maximises the efficiency of your home by minimising heat gained from the external environment and facilitating heat lost to natural sources of cooling, such as air movement, cooling breezes, evaporation and earth coupling.

What is passive solar heating?

Did you know that on average, 38 per cent of energy consumed in Australian homes is for heating and cooling? Passive solar designs dramatically reduce this figure, because it is all about keeping the summer sun out and letting the winter sun into your home.

Passive solar heating is the least expensive way to heat your home and is based on the following key points:

  • Northerly orientation of window areas.
  • Passive shading of glass.
  • Thermal mass for storing heat.
  • Minimising heat loss with insulation, draught sealing and advanced glazing.
  • Using floor plan zoning to get heating to where it is most needed and keeping it there.

To contact the leading Perth and Sunshine Coast builders for energy efficient designs, call Thompson Sustainable Homes on 1300 904 040 or complete our online enquiry form.

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