What is a Sustainable House
Homes are central to our lives. They are places where we relax, be ourselves, raise our children, create memories, and spend of lot of time. Homes are important. And justifiably, we like to feel pride in our homes. Unfortunately our homes also have big impacts on earth's resources.
The average Melbourne Home:
- creates almost 12 tonnes of CO2 every year through its energy consumption
- uses 200,000 litres of water per year
- commonly includes materials that destroy forest habitat, come from limited resources, take a lot of energy to produce, or are highly polluting
- is full of off-gassing glues, binders, and paints, which may affect health
Positive Footprints was started in 2001 with the simple question:
Why can't we build homes, just as functional, just as beautiful, that don't have these negative impacts?
Could we limit the environmental footprint? And indeed, would it be possible to build a house that benefitted the environment - a Sustainable House?
A Positive Footprint?
Today, happily, we can say we have made significant strides in that direction, building beautiful homes that have much lower impacts:
- Most of our new homes are 8-9 stars in House Energy Rating, meaning they use 50-80% less energy to heat and cool compared to the 6 star minimum*. With the addition of 3-4kwatt photovoltaic systems many of our clients report producing more energy than they use. That is, their homes are Carbon Positive, effectively saving those 12 tonnes of CO2 per year entering the atmosphere for the life of the house!
- Through rainwater collection & reuse, and greywater harvesting where desired, mainswater use is usually at least halved. A water saving of around 100,000 litres a year.
- And over the years, through a process of trialling products with good environmental claims, we now have a comprehensive palette of lower impact, cost effective and healthier alternatives for common materials. So not only can you breath easier, knowing your indoor environment has better air quality, but you can be truly proud that the material choices continue to promote greener alternatives in the market more broadly.
So are we completely 'Sustainable'? After 20 years, we are happy to say that with the Zero Carbon Series reach a milestone with a carbon neutral outcome over the life of the house, which includes the embodied energy that goes into the materials. Of course there are still environmental impacts such as resource use, pollution and waste in the industry that we shall continue to strive to mitigate.
For more detailed examples of what we have acheived, please see our Projects page and also read what we have included in the Publications and Awards pages.
* The energy efficiency Star Rating for new houses now goes up to 10 stars, with 10 stars theoretically being a house that needs no mechanical heating and cooling, and 6 stars being the minimum requirement for new homes. When buying a new home always check the Star performance rating.