Environmentally Sustainable Housing
At the Rural Building Company we understand and embrace the need for environmentally responsible housing. The use of energy in the home is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from Australian households. The average household’s energy use is responsible for about eight tones of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, per year. Sustainability within the home can be maintained through efficient energy use.
That’s why we are supporting the Housing Industry Association GreenSmart program and its philosophy of affordable, environmentally responsible housing for the 21st century. Most of all, energy savings are often just common sense. We can also be more responsible by educating ourselves on housing and energy usage in our home.
How does my house rate?
Through the Building Code of Australia builders have to satisfy energy efficiency requirements by law. There are two methods of achieving this. One is through what is called ‘deemed to satisfy’ using the codes and some tables to attain a satisfactory level of energy efficiency, but this does not give you a star rating. The alternative is to have your house rated by one of the rating tools, BERS, First Rate or AccuRate to properly assess your home. This will give you a star rating: 5 stars being the minimum standard achievable in Australia.
The Rural Building Company only provides star ratings. This allows us to obtain the best possible solution for you and takes into consideration all aspects of the design including its orientation to give the most positive result. To achieve a high star rating the simplest result is a reduction in glazing. In fact in a simple sense a high star rating can be achieved by considering your house to be an ‘esky’ with small holes punched in it to achieve the best thermal efficiency. All the calculations are based on the assumption mechanical heating and cooling will be used in the home and the need to minimize the usage to conserve energy. There is also an argument to say the cost in achieving a high star rating outweighs the benefits.
At Rural Building Company we are seeking to achieve the best of both worlds. Large areas of glass to relate your house to the outside world, as well as provide very efficient sun control between the seasons. Again, by using a rating tool we can fine tune your house to argument for more glass or for a higher star rating. The types of materials, the level of insulation and the amount of cross flow ventilation, are all factors in achieving the preferred outcome.
Using energy in my home
While we can’t control all the appliances, lighting and water usage, we are trying to get you off to the best possible start. Our water heating is the most efficient solar system – a gas boosted stainless steel Edwards hot water system.
Our tap fittings and showers are the best appropriate star rating for its usage. For example, our showers are all 4 star, the bath, laundry trough and kitchen sink are 3 star because a higher level of water flow is required in these circumstances. Our toilets are all 4 star. We are also using plastic pipe for our plumbing wherever possible as this provides more efficient water flow and resists thermal conductors keeping the water warmer in the pipe for longer.
All our roofs are Bluescope Colorbond. Unlike tiles that can act as a heat sink radiating heat into your roof space after the sun has set, metal cools very quickly. To further help the roof space and improve the efficiency of your insulation, we provide an E-vent on the ridge. Unlike the ugly whirly bird, this takes the hot air out of your roof without moving parts.
How can I improve my water and energy use?
Although we do not include third pipe systems, grey water re-circulating pumps, non-incandescent lighting and storm water storage as standard items, we can help you plan your home for the best power and water efficiencies. Many of our display homes illustrate these alternative solutions. We can provide, for example, a pump that measures the temperature in the water and re-circulates the cold water back to the hot water system until the water reaches a desired temperature. This stops water wastage and reduces the time lag waiting for the hot water to come out of the shower nozzle.
It is possible to provide a comprehensive waste water system. We are illustrating this on a display home where the rainwater, bore water, black water and grey water all go through the same system. The resulting processed water is almost potable and can be used to irrigate your garden. The average family disposes of around 60 litres of grey and black water per day. It is possible to disconnect completely from the sewerage system.
In other displays we are showing the benefits of using LED, fluorescent and photovoltaic cells, reducing substantially the amount of electricity used from the mains.
There are alternatives to our standard windows. There is glass that will resist heat entering the home and will resist heat escaping from your home. We can also provide double glazing and non-conductive window frames. While these can be of benefit, in our normal climatic conditions the costs will generally outweigh the benefits.
Want to know more about Rural Building’s sustainable homes?
Our 100% carbon neutral home lead us to win GreenSmart Display Home of the Year and Energy Efficiency Award. Find out more >
All our homes can be build with as many sustainable features as you like.