Sus­tain­abil­ity counts

Benalla Ensign - - Benalla Ensign -

is

the new

Sus­tain­able buzz-word.

Ev­ery­thing from the lo­cal cafe to the big­gest build­ings have sus­tain­abil­ity as a goal. But for many re­gional Vic­to­ri­ans what is now seen as sus­tain­able, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly liv­ing — rain­wa­ter tanks, grow­ing fruit and veg­eta­bles, com­post­ing, col­lect­ing and chop­ping fire­wood — have been part of life for gen­er­a­tions.

Since the rules gov­ern­ing new build­ings, in­clud­ing ad­di­tions and ren­o­va­tions, were in­tro­duced in Vic­to­ria al­most three years ago some of these fea­tures of coun­try life have be­come much more ‘‘main­stream’’.

They’ve also be­come a part of the build­ing re­quire­ments. The six-star en­ergy ef­fi­ciency rat­ing, which aligned Vic­to­ria with the Build­ing Code of Aus­tralia, re­quires all new homes to ei­ther have a so­lar hot wa­ter sys­tem or a rain­wa­ter tank for toi­let flush­ing.

The rules also fo­cus at­ten­tion on in­su­la­tion, the ther­mal per­for­mance, size and lo­ca­tion of win­dows and build­ing ori­en­ta­tion — the days when coun­try homes all faced the main road and city homes had a path from the street-fac­ing front door have given way to north-fac­ing liv­ing ar­eas to cap­ture win­ter sun and shade out sum­mer sun; and that shady grapevine over a per­gola be­comes part of an en­ergy ef­fi­ciency plan.

En­vi­ron­men­tally friendly de­sign was seen as the prov­ince of the well-off and of no great in­ter­est to buy­ers. But times change and agents re­port buy­ers in­creas­ingly ask about a home’s sus­tain­abil­ity cre­den­tials. For ex­am­ple, with more than one mil­lion Aus­tralian homes now with rooftop so­lar pan­els, most people are aware of their po­ten­tial en­ergy and cost sav­ing ben­e­fits.

There have been thou­sands of new homes which com­ply with the new six-star rat­ing built in re­gional Vic­to­ria in re­cent years. In Swan Hill one of Aus­tralia’s only nine-star en­ergy rated homes was built as a demon­stra­tion cen­tre, part of the Tower Hill hous­ing de­vel­op­ment.

But through­out re­gional Vic­to­ria there are many older homes. Agents re­port that while buy­ers may be charmed, they also ask about other fea­tures such as dou­ble glaz­ing and so­lar hot wa­ter that re­flect the home’s over­all sus­tain­abil­ity.

Not so many years ago agents would not bother pro­mot­ing sus­tain­abil­ity fea­tures. Now, though, these are seen as at­tract­ing buy­ers who want to re­duce their foot­print and their bills. Fea­tures such as so­lar pan­els, rain­wa­ter tanks and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient de­sign are tak­ing their place in mar­ket­ing cam­paigns.

So while in­vest­ing in such fea­tures can also re­pay that in­vest­ment through re­duced costs, in­creas­ingly they add to a home’s cap­i­tal value.

For more de­tails see www. sus­tain­abil­ity.vic.gov.au and www.build­ing­com­mis­sion .com.au/sus­tain­abil­ity — Real Es­tate In­sti­tute of

Vic­to­ria

Think green: Sus­tain­abil­ity is be­com­ing a con­sid­er­a­tion when buy­ing property.

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