Sustainable housing often conjures up the image of a house built into a grassy knoll or a home made entirely out of plastic bottles and old tyres, using greywater to maintain a plot of kale. The notion formerly held the perception of an unattractive and ineffective method, and was used commonly by homeowners looking to live in isolation and seclusion.
Put simple, this is not the case. Carbon neutral buildings have been popping up around the globe, as part of tremendous residential and commercial sites that push the barrier for eco-friendly architecture. In a lot of cases, it also means keeping some extra cash in the pocket of the financer. It’s often said this trend is becoming a new hot topic thanks to environmental sustainability. That is partly true. However, the shift also stems from the current mass-migration of global populations to megacities, creating huge challenges around housing affordability, infrastructure, environmental impact, and transportation.
Rebecca Douthwaite, Chairwoman of The Australian Sustainable Environment Council (ASBEC), is a strong believer in the necessity for Australia’s push towards an environmentally sustainable future: “We know Australia is in the grip of a housing crisis. A growing population and skyrocketing house prices mean living affordability, and housing security is being stretched to the limit.
“First, we need to work to a plan. Future infrastructure needs to be scoped and delivered in the right places. Diverse medium and high-density urban housing should be built along transport corridors and near amenities. Incentives to build the right type of homes are needed.”
“First, we need to work to a plan. Future infrastructure needs to be scoped and delivered in the right places."
ASBEC Executive Director Suzanne Toumbourou also adds: “The key to cheaper running costs is improved energy efficiency. Not only are more energy-efficient buildings more comfortable and healthy, but they have the added bonus of being a fast and cost-effective way to reduce emissions. Public understanding of the benefits of energy efficient housing is limited, so education is required.”
For others, there are key factors impacting the sustainability housing trend and halting widespread adoption, such as a lack of new delivery models, an absence of methods and tools creating a safer and more productive workplace, some of the lowest levels of innovation and productivity in any industry, and very little change and adaptation. However, Australian carbon neutral advocates hope to overcome these challenges.
Australia, currently ranked the 20th most sustainable nation in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, is experiencing a significant push in the right direction in construction. A recent home designed and built be Clare Cousins Architects in collaboration with the Social Weaver has marked the first home in Victoria to be carbon positive. The zero-waste construction process paired with solar roofing, cross-flow ventilation, and low energy use has led to the creation of a home that self-heats and cools, and produces more energy than it uses. The house itself uses modern, low energy equipment, which is estimated to cost an average of $3 a year to run.
Overall, the trend is a positive one. Often, the most important aspects of a building are the sections that are left untouched, and incorporating greenery and a self-powering environment is sure to make our cities a cleaner and friendlier ecosystem.
If you liked this article, here are a few eBooks you might enjoy: