What is Energy Efficient Design?

A simple definition is, a design that minimises external energy inputs (Power, Gas & Water) to create a comfortable internal environment – warm in winter, cool in summer, clean water and air.

To do this successfully requires careful site analysis and consideration of the occupants requirements.

What is the difference between Solar Passive and Solar Active Design?

Solar Passive is design that relies on correct orientation, shape and layout of the building to become energy efficient. Once designed and built, it needs no moving parts to function correctly. The Passive part means the fact that nothing ‘active’ is done to achieve this, i.e. no machinery or complex technology is employed, just the way the building is designed orientated and constructed that does the work. e.g. wide eaves, thermal mass, natural ventilation and appropriate sized glazing are all Solar Passive techniques 

Solar Active on the other hand, use mechanical elements to increase energy efficiency. Both types are good, but solar active systems require ongoing maintenance. e.g. Heat Pump Hot Water Systems and Operable Awnings.

What are the challengers of a subtropical climate for Energy Efficient Design?

The North Coast of New South Wales and Southern Queensland, has the best of both worlds. For 3-4 months in summer weather can be like the tropics, and then for the rest of the time it has more of a mild temperate climate. It can be very wet here, or very humid, or very dry, or very windy and sometimes pretty cold.

The further from the coast you are the more extreme the temperatures can be, as a result, we need to design houses that suit all these conditions and not just houses for the tropics.

What steps are required in Building my House?

  • Site analysis: information gathering including ascertaining site constraints
  • Developing a design brief.
  • Concept Drawings   
  • D.A Drawings (for submission to council ) including specifications
  • Other information as required by council including BASIX certificate and other reports
  • Engineering drawings  ,details and other Construction details
  • Obtain Construction Certificate
  • Obtain builders quotes
  • Contracts Sign with builder.
  • Commence Construction  

What’s involved in a Design Brief?

A design brief gets as much information on paper as possible about what the house should provide. If there is more than one client involved it is important that they all make their own briefs and then compare notes. Expect differences and expect to change and compromise, but the important thing is to start. This process helps refine and distill your ideas. The more time spent considering your needs, wants and budget at this stage the greater the chance of success and the more possibility of saving money. It is more important that the brief considers your abstract needs than the physical shape of the building at this stage.

How can I speed up the Process and Save Money?

By really thinking through and discussing the design brief and minimising late changes once plans start to take shape, you can save countless hours and dollars. 

What makes a House Eco or Green?

There are many things that make a house green or eco including:

  • Physical design 
  • material selection , non toxic /sustainable products  
  • types of services
  • size of house
  • how well it integrates within the landscape 
  • how many inputs it requires to maintain a comfortable living environment 
  • how well it suits the lifestyle of the occupants and how centrally it is located to their workplace , schools and shops etc        

 

I’m interested in Purchasing Property, can you help? What should I look for?

If you are looking at vacant land first of all you should contact your local council to ascertain whether or not the site is affected by site constraints such as bushfire or flooding.

We have for the last 15 years offered a pre purchase site inspection to assess the potential of the site for placing an energy efficient home on, or to assess whether an existing home can be economically retrofitted.

It is important to understand this is not a standard building inspection, but specifically looks at potential for energy efficiency sustainable design solutions.