A local design expert has claimed people can break the “vicious climate change circle” by designing their homes for comfort, and not to impress their neighbours and friends.
Best Practice Constructions director Noretta Terry said that poorly designed homes are ill-equipped to deal with summer heat, which in turn leads to soaring energy bills and global warming, and a study coming out of the University of South Australia agrees.
“People seem to be more interested in the appearance of their house than their own comfort, or how the house can work for them,” Ms Terry said.
“Your house is the single biggest investment most people make, and the time will soon come when houses have to have an energy rating to be sold.”
Ms Terry said that councils can lay the platform for change by only allowing new subdivisions and blocks to have longer east to west aspects to compliment good building design.
“Longer east to west blocks allows for a greater northern facing side for winter sun, as well as the ability to avoid the hotter western sun in summer,” she said.
“People have to make the climate work for them – having corresponding windows for ventilation, insulation and double or triple glazed windows will all make a huge difference.
“All houses can handle a few hot nights and days, but when you get a long string like we have just had the house heats up and takes a lot of cooling down – that means air-conditioners pump more carbons into the atmosphere which adds to the changing climate.”
Meanwhile a study conducted by UniSA Professor of Environmental Mathematics John Boland is calling for legislative changes to the building code to put a halt to the environmental damage caused by poorly designed dwellings.
“What’s needed are brand new building codes which make things like wall insulation, double glazing and restrictions on window placement mandatory,” he said.
“Alternative energy sources like solar are great, but nothing beats a good design.
“We should be designing homes which use the least amount of energy rather than desperately searching for options which allow us to use more energy for less money.”
All new houses in Australia must be designed to comply with a six star rating based on a points system, however Prof Boland said the points system is fatally flawed, and doesn’t allow for climate change.
“Since the star rating is done on total energy use over the year, a design can be highly rated based on energy use in winter, but can still cause a lot of heat stress in summer,” he said.