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

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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