Sustainable housing strategies have been part of the Australian landscape for more than a decade now and they’re starting to bear “green” fruit.
A number of initiatives across our major cities are helping to improve sustainable housing practices, particularly inner-city apartments, which is good for the environment as well as the people who live in them.
The proposed $100 million Sustainable Cities Investment Fund, which would be delivered through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, has the potential to reshape our major cities.
Funds would be invested in a range of projects, including green building, retrofit projects and precinct-scale energy generation systems.
Likewise, the $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program promises to help local governments apply innovative technology-based approaches to improve the liveability of their cities and suburbs.
And then there’s the Heart Foundation’s report, titled Blueprint for an Active Australia, which states that better integrating transport, urban and infrastructure planning can help create highly accessible neighbourhoods, which encourages people to step out of their cars and in turn reduces road congestion and no doubt better health all round.
One of the proposals in the blueprint puts an emphasis on higher density dwellings that are centred around public transport, shops and services and, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is growing support for these types of developments amongst
Research has found that 95 per cent of those surveyed in a Perth survey support an increase in public transport, while an impressive 89 per cent wanted to see more eco-friendly real estate in their city.
New policies in Sydney are also supporting a greener Australia with the Sydney City Council’s Smart Green Apartments initiative already starting to turn the tide.
The project was created in response to statistics that showed that about 75 per cent of residents in the local area lived in apartment buildings, but these dwellings accounted for 38 per cent of the local area’s water use, 10 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions and 14 per cent of its waste.
The Smart Green Apartments program aims to help create more cost-effective and efficient buildings, improve performance of shared services and amenities and minimise environmental impacts.
Early results have already showed significant wins with energy savings, on average, of up to 30 per cent identified across the buildings in the program, potentially reducing carbon outputs by one third.
The program said that possible areas of savings within existing unit developments included:
- Lighting retrofits, including controls and sensors.
- Efficiency upgrades to pool heating systems and covers.
- Variable speed drives on pumps and fans.
- Grid-connected solar photovoltaic.
In deciding which changes to implement first, the program report stated that most apartments looked for the best return on investment – with common area lighting usually being the first change made.
In many cases, these had a payback period of two years or less.
And even the Federal Government is helping to develop environmentally sustainable housing by providing its own helpful guidelines.
According to its Your Home – Australia’s guide to environmentally sustainable homes website, green design principles could include:
· Passive design – designing to take advantage of natural heating and cooling can increase comfort and use less energy.
· Materials – choosing materials carefully can reduce harmful health effects and minimise waste and environmental impact.
· Energy – learn how to reduce power consumption and about renewable energy systems.
· Water – learn how to reduce water use inside and outside through improved water use efficiency.
· Housing – Think about whether your house will be adaptable and resilient to demographic and environmental changes.