If you’re buying, building or renovating a home you generally have more options than if you're seeking to reduce emissions in an existing home with at most only minor changes. These are some things you should aim to achieve:
- a house that is as well-insulated as possible
- solar panels, and of course a house siting that allows you to have solar panels
- a design that gives access to natural light, and shades walls and windows in summer
- cross-flow ventilation
- clever use of space to achieve maximum comfort and function while minimising floor area
- an adaptable design to meet changing occupant needs over the years without major building changes
- a design that allows you to heat, cool and light only the areas you are using
- the most energy efficient materials, heating, air-conditioning, hot water system, lights etc
- a design that entails re-use of pre-existing building parts or materials to reduce embodied energy
- a low water use garden that shades the house as necessary
- a location that's close to work, shops, services, entertainment and public transport.
There are many sources of useful information on this topic, and the following are just a few:
- The Energy Freedom Home: A practical guide for renovators & builders, a Beyond Zero Emissions publication that includes 'the 9 steps to energy freedom'
- Australian Government: Your Home
- Positive Charge: Home Energy Savings
- Alternative Technology Association
- City of Yarra: Sustainable Design Guidelines
- City of Yarra: Sustainable Heritage Buildings (for older and heritage buildings).