Improving the bottom line is a major goal for any home owner and when there is a triple bottom line, even greater care is required before making a decision to purchase property.

Due to the Smart and Sustainable Homes programme set up by Queensland Government, home buyers across the state are learning more about their properties’ triple bottom line, through its environmental, social and economic performance.

To do this the programme has provided communities with innovative housing displays, which are practical examples of sustainable design and performance.

There are around 36 projects that the programme is currently dealing with including six successful projects that have now closed; seven currently open for display with an 18 unit complex opening soon.

There are many others in the planning stage. Each offers a different approach in terms of smart and sustainable building, including duplexes and renovations, yet they all adhere to a set of agreed underlying principles.

These principles require practical improvements in areas including water conservation, natural heating and cooling, and long-term maintenance, which explain the wide usage of steel products such as water tanks, and roofs made from Colorbond steel, which all of the houses feature. Other areas for improvement concern security, safety, indoor air quality and outdoor living.

“A smart and sustainable home is more liveable and comfortable, accessible, responsive and saves money on water and energy bills over the medium to long-term, thereby reducing its environmental impact,” said Ross Mehrten, Program Coordinator for the Sustainable Homes initiative.

“Importantly, each of the homes is designed specifically to suit the climatic zone in which it is built, of which there are four in Queensland, and each requires a different design approach.”

“The triple bottom line must be a central consideration for all current and future housing in Queensland and across Australia, but it must equally be applied to homes that are being renovated.”

Dean Chandler, Market Development Manager at BlueScope Steel , believes the Smart and Sustainable Homes programme will help convert the desire for sustainable homes into action.

“It is great to see so many people come together, with support from the government and provide such impressive examples of smart and sustainable building,” he said.

Colorbond steel was selected by the individual project coordinators to clad all of the projects’ roofs to date as well as numerous fascia and gutter systems.

Colorbond steel is a material frequently used in sustainable building projects, because it is durable, recyclable, energy efficient and low maintenance. These factors all help it provide practical building solutions that support a building’s triple bottom line.

The programme itself is a result of the merging of two previously separate initiatives, the Queensland Department of Housings’ Smart Housing initiative and the Department of Public Works’ Sustainable Homes Program.

It is ideal in that diverse stakeholders from state government, local government and industry have come together with the same ambition of educating consumers and industry about more sustainable building practices and therefore increase its demand.

To date, three of the projects in the programme have won important industry awards:

Sustainable Home Brisbane won the 2006 HIA Greensmart Building of the Year award for the residential building that incorporated Greensmart through cost-effective environmental features and practices in its construction and operation. The project also won a HIA Greensmart Water Efficiency Housing Award.

Sustainable Home Zilzie, developed by Seaspray Queensland and designed by the Department of Public Works’ Architectural Practice Academy, won the HIA Greensmart 2007 Project Home of the Year.

The Capricorn Blue resort in Yeppoon, Central Queensland, received a Special Commendation for the HIA Greensmart 2007 Development of the Year and was a finalist in the BPN/Environ Sustainability awards.