Advances have been made in building products that contribute to the ‘greening’ of Australian homes. Today’s new homes show that environmental responsibility, energy efficiency and healthy indoor living go hand-in-hand with comfort, convenience and great design.
Here is a small sampling of the latest materials, products and technologies that professional home builders are working with today.
- Sustainable building products, such as plantation grown timber, are produced from renewable resources that are managed to last for future generations.
- Engineered composite beams and joists used in framing are made from fast-growing trees using sustainable forestry practices.
- Waste from building materials can be recycled, for example broken bricks and roof tiles can be turned into rubble as a base for a driveway.
- Steel framing – a recycled and recyclable material.
- Insulation (in batts or loose) is made from an array of natural and recycled materials, from newspapers and waste glass to volcanic rock, steel slag, wool and cotton.
- Insulated concrete forms such as ‘pods’ are used to form structural beams in concrete slab floors which improve a home’s energy efficiency.
- Windows now offer different technical characteristics such as energy-efficient glass and window frames and glazing that reduce the amount of heat gain and loss through the window. These windows can be used in the entire building or on the orientations that are most exposed to the elements.
- Integrated heating systems combine space heating and hot water heating in one system.
- High-efficiency gas fired systems vent exhaust gases through a flue, eliminating the need for a chimney.
- Radiant floor heating (using either electric elements or hot water that is pumped through coils embedded in the floor) provides comfort and even heat distribution.
- Zone control permits separate temperature settings in different areas of the house, for energy savings and increased comfort.
- CFC-free air conditioning provides inside summer comfort without harming the environment.
- Choose from an abundance of environmentally responsible flooring options:
- new or reused strip timber flooring, with a low-toxicity finish
- glazed ceramic tiles do not emit toxic fumes or support allergens or bacteria and can incorporate recycled glass in the production
- natural stone such as granite and marble (also used for benchtops)
- all-natural products such as linoleum, cork and bamboo.
- Trims and mouldings for windows and doors are made from sawmill wood wastes such as medium density fibreboard.
- Solvent-free paints offer a healthier alternative.
The Building Code of Australia requires a minimum level of compliance in relation to energy efficiency, indoor air quality or ventilation, natural or artificial light and sound insulation to ensure that the building provides acceptable amenity for future occupants.
HIA’s GreenSmart program encourages builders to achieve a higher level of environmentally friendly home than is required by the code. This also extends to environmentally friendly building practices. HIA GreenSmart builders are specifically trained in the latest methods and materials to enable them to provide a product that is aesthetically pleasing, energy efficient and environmentally responsible.
To find out more about HIA GreenSmart and builders who can deliver environmentally friendly homes and products, go to hia.com.au.