It’s a well known (and for the most part, extremely accurate) trope that Australians are obsessed with property. For many, the dream of owning their own home is still front of mind, even as the price of realising that dream continues to grow - with little sign of ever stopping!
There are a variety of reasons that people seek to build their own homes. For many, it’s a case of affordability - buying land where new developments have opened up can often be far more cost effective than trying to muscle into a saturated suburb. For those who have the means, it can also just be about designing the home they’ve always wanted - and literally bringing their dream to life in the process.
With single dwellings making up such a large part of Australia’s construction projects, it stands to reason that sustainability measures are not only front-of-mind for architects, they’re commonly mandated by the various levels of government. With that in mind, there are a few select trends we’ve identified from across the vast spectrum of new dwelling development that we can expect to see more of in the future.
Put simply, passive design is about using the sources of radiant heat and cooling both within and outside the house to create a suitable temperature year-round, without the need for mechanical heating or cooling. This is done by creating a sealed envelope with minimal thermal bridging, and using various heat transfer methods to stop heat from leaving the house. As the cost of energy continues to skyrocket, the idea of heavily reduced bills is becoming increasingly attractive to many people - and the passive design trend is growing with gusto.
Energy efficient tech
Technology is shaping everything in life, and the sustainability profiles of our homes are not immune to its reaches! In this trend we’d include everything from the standard (rooftop solar), to the niche (sub-floor water heat recovery units), and everything in between. The innovation and engineering magic that is now becoming readily available for everyday consumption is truly astounding, and in the coming years we will see even more fascinating and effective tech solutions being integrated into Australian dwellings.
Distributed energy resources
One of the biggest - and perhaps most exciting - innovations is in the use of individual home power resources as a means for propping up the centralised energy grids. Increasing numbers of homes are now being connected online, so that power can be drawn from home solar systems or batteries when it’s needed. Apart from the obvious sustainability benefits this has for individual homeowners, the tariffs paid by energy companies when they need to draw upon these resources is significantly greater than than the cost paid per Kwh by homeowners.
These trends are overwhelmingly practical, and - while definitely geared at improving the sustainability profiles of the dwellings and our suburbs at large - are also directly targeted at consumption and cost reduction. There’s no doubt this will continue to be a theme for the foreseeable future, and we’re looking forward to seeing what other innovative ways we can save money, and the planet, at the same time!
2023's Sustainability Awards promises to showcase and celebrate the ingenuity of architects looking to design for a better future. For more information, visit sustainablebuildingawards.com.au.
Image: The Hutt 01 Passivhaus – Melbourne Design Studios (MDS).