The living really is easy with sustainably designed spaces
Have your cake and eat it too with eco-friendly but beautifully designed spaces, writes Jennifer Veerhuis
If you get a feeling of dread every time a new electricity or gas bill arrives in your mailbox, it might just be that your home isn’t doing you any favours.
While energy prices are continuing to rise, some homes are affected less than others, thanks to the way they were designed and constructed. Those built according to sustainable design principles will be naturally warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
Big houses, big bills
Environa Studio principal architect Tone Wheeler says people who have built a big new house can suddenly find it takes a lot of money to pay for the electricity, water and maintenance.
“But you will never convince people to trade down their lifestyle in order to save energy or water or money,” he says.
While some people still think an eco-friendly or sustainable house equals a compromised lifestyle, Tone says nothing could be further from the truth.
“Sustainable houses don’t use many resources to build, they don’t consume much in their operation, nor many resources in maintenance but they still give you exactly the same or a more enhanced lifestyle,” he says.
“When you’re think of building, there are three things you should ask yourself — what will it cost to get all the materials to build it, what will it cost to operate it, and what will it cost to maintain it and look after it.”
Make it modular
Livability and sustainability are not mutually exclusive with the right planning and choice of materials, Tone says.
Environa Studio runs a division called Concept Homes, where it custom designs homes for knockdown rebuild projects.
The architect-designed modular designs are all built to include sustainable features.
“They’re all highly insulated, they’re all reverse brick veneer with high-performance glass and photovoltaics (solar panels),” Tone says. “We talk to people about how they will live in a house, how will we keep them comfortable and supply hot water and how will we make sure the house is not a (financial) burden to them.”
This house designed by Environa Studio has large eaves and shutters for shade and an ornamental garden, not lawn.