Sustainability engineer, energy assessor and Director of Credwell, Paddy Healy says when it comes to achieving sustainability in the building industry things are moving in the right direction.

“The industry is slowly getting pushed forward and I can see that even the everyday, normal person knows more and more about sustainability and that’s great,” he says.

“I found when I first started in 2012 a lot of people had to be educated and there was always resistance”. He especially remembers the pushback from clients who didn’t see the value in spending on solar panels.

Paddy says his work involves collaborating with architects by taking the plans they’ve created and looking at how to make the dwelling more energy efficient. He’ll question what side of the building to place the bedrooms on, where to put the double glazing and the right positions for shade devices and awnings. He’ll also consider the building materials and embodied carbon, solar panels, batteries, water efficiency and how the occupants will use their appliances.

“There are a lot of ratings out there so we focus on the main ones. We can apply principles of Passive House if the client wants it”. He does note, however, that Passive Houses are best suited to colder climates and it’s important to ensure the interior doesn’t become too hot.

Paddy says double glazing has been an area where people tend to push back and say it costs too much. However, as double glazing becomes more common, manufacturers are dropping the prices.

“Solar radiation is a major thing here in Australia. The heat gain that comes in through the window is so big we need to somehow reduce it,” he explains.

He says the goal is to put glass in our buildings that will stop the excess heat but allow in the wavelengths that we can use readily. “We want to keep out UVA, UVB and infrared but let visible light transmitters in”.

“Talk to a window manufacturer who knows their stuff. We can give the values required: the U Value and the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. Give them to the window manufacturer and they’ll know the best options”.

Paddy is a fan of the energy efficient awning window ComfortEDGE by AWS which uses thermal mass on either side of the frame. He says the AWS website makes it easy to see which windows have the specific ratings you need for your project.

“It’s very clear on their website what the type of frame and window would do and whether it ticks all the boxes or not and that’s what I like about AWS”.

Another positive change Paddy is seeing in the building industry is the growth of the circular economy, “People are reusing old items from buildings and putting them back in again. Reuse is the best we can do”.

He says there has also been an uptick in the recycling of demolition waste with up to 90 to 95% being recycled on site.

Looking forward he said he also expects we will see more buildings wrapped externally with insulation to further improve thermal efficiency.

If you want to know more about the sustainable advancements in the building industry, listen to the listen to the whole episode of the podcast here.