Eco Housing Design
Dion Seminara Architecture designs promote:
- Breezeways and natural convection
- Open design for flow-through ventilation
- Well-orientated living areas
- Low impact housing footprint
- Outdoor spaces connecting to main living spaces
- Drought tolerance
- Adjustable shading devices for solar protection
- Wide eaves for controlled solar protection
- Large covered decks/terraces
- Inclusion of solar heating, water tanks and grey water re-cycling systems
- The inclusion of light coloured surfaces, particularly roofs
- Adaptability and accessibility for aging/less mobile residents (optional as needed)
At Dion Seminara Architecture we understand eco homes and housing and sustainable living principles allowing us to create stunning designs that are environmentally friendly and take advantage of what the climate offers.
We are passionate about lowering our carbon footprint and reducing our dependency on non-renewable forms of electricity. In fact we have recently installed a 7.5kw solar power plant on the roof of our office as we work towards becoming completely carbon neutral.
By following eco-housing principles and designing every new home or renovation to suit their local conditions, we are able to create beautiful homes that are cost effective to run and offer truly sustainable living. Here are just some of the ways that we can achieve this for your project:
Flow through ventilation
Nature provides us with cooling summer breezes and yet so many homes that are built today fail to take advantage of this natural gift. Our designs maximise the natural flow of air across your property enabling you to cool your home cost effectively. Through clever eco-housing designs and the use of strategies like open designs, breezeways and natural convection we can promote cross ventilation throughout your home keeping it fresh, cool and healthy the natural way.
Many modern home designs rely heavily on electric lighting. Dark depressing corners and poorly lit rooms can be overcome but installing more and more energy sapping light globes but is it really in the home owner’s best interests?
Well we say no. As eco architects we believe that taking advantage of natural lighting is a far better option. Through our eco friendly designs we can create living spaces that are not only bright and airy, but also warm, inviting and healthy.
Protection from the elements
Whilst eco housing design principles are about working with the climate, great home design also offers protection from the harshest elements. Through the use of well orientated living areas, adjustable shading devices, wide eaves, large covered decks, terraces and verandas we are able to protect your home from the heat of summer, whilst still allowing in the warming winter sun. Our designs offer you the best of the local climate whilst keeping the worst away.
As eco architects we understand that naturally heating and cooling your home is only half the battle. There is little point to a design that allows the low winter sun to warm your home only to see that heat escape through lack of insulation; which is why we focus heavily on ceiling and wall insulation in our home designs along with the use of natural materials that have insulating properties.
Renewable & recyclable building materials
Our designs focus on using renewable materials where possible, to help lessen our impact on the environment. Through the clever use of renewable and recycled materials where possible, we are helping to create a better world for our children’s futures.
Renewable energy sources
With rising power costs and growing concerns over mans impact on the environment, we believe that taking advantage of renewable energy sources at a residential level is sound strategy. Things like solar heating and photo-voltaic electricity help us in creating sustainable homes that are not only eco friendly, but affordable to run.
Water harvesting & management solutions
With our growing population and unpredictable climate conserving water has become a high priority. For this reason our eco architectural designs focus on three main areas being:
- rain water harvesting,
- water usage reduction and
- water recycling.
We do this through rainwater storage tanks, careful planning of outdoor areas and things like grey water recycling systems. Our designs are highly drought tolerant. So if water conservation is important to you, then a Dion Seminara designed home is exactly what you need.
So as you can see at Dion Seminara Architecture we have a thorough understanding of eco housing design principles. As eco architects, we believe strongly in helping our clients reduce their housing footprint through the creation of sustainable homes that are eco friendly with the added benefit of being inexpensive to run.
A Sustainable Living Starts With Your Home
Have you ever thought about taking a step towards sustainability? How can you make your lifestyle “greener”? What does this mean? What are the overall benefits and costs of this initiative? This is a hot topic that everyone wants to know more about and for this reason we will attempt to answer all these questions.
What is sustainable living?
At its most basic level, sustainability is the ability to take what we need to live now, without jeopardising the capacity for the next generation to satisfy their needs. In view of this, sustainable living is a lifestyle that:
- Respects all forms of life
- Minimises usage and wastage of resources
- Reduces our environmental impact
- Improves our quality of life
Sustainability starts from everyday practices and it’s up to us to decide to incorporate it in our daily lives. This requires a strong shift in our behaviors, attitudes and habits whether in our home, workplace or elsewhere. Moreover, going green at home is often one of the first steps to a sustainable lifestyle. As it is the place where we eat, sleep and spend most of the time with our family, it should be the first thing to which we turn our attention.
A sustainable building is a more liveable and healthier place designed to increase the resource-use efficiency (energy, water and materials), while reducing its overall impact on human health and on the natural environment. It aims to integrate itself with the surrounding landscape and preserve the local habitat. As a consequence, a green design enhances the ability of people to live in their home for all stages of their life.
The highest concept of green building is passive homes, a design which takes advantage of the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range at home, reducing hot and cold spots. This can eliminate the need for auxiliary heating or cooling which accounts for about 40% of energy use in the average Australian home.
Four reasons to go “green” at home
What are the overall benefits and costs of an energy-efficient house? As it is commonly thought that to build “green” is just much more expensive than using a traditional building, we would like to delve deeper into this subject. It is true that a green building costs up to 10% more than a conventional construction but it is also true that all the additional costs can be completely recovered in a period between 5 to 9 years. However, it’s not just about the money. The advantages that derive from having an environmentally-friendly building concern also our health and wellness and the surrounding environment. On this basis, we would like to introduce you to a few benefits of adopting a green house.
1. Reduction of environmental impacts
First of all, an eco-friendly design can help to respect and preserve the local habitat by integrating the building with the surrounding environment. Conventional buildings consume great quantities of energy, materials and other resources and generate significant greenhouse emissions during their life-cycle. Indeed, it is estimated that they contribute up to 40% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 16% of water usage, 30% of solid landfill waste and 40% of raw materials consumption.
By contrast, sustainable houses are designed with the aim of exploiting the environment and not to destroy it, reaching a balance between the building and the natural environment. They can generate up to 33% less greenhouse emissions by using renewable and recycling building materials, renewable energy sources, natural lighting, and passive cooling and insulation.
2. Lowering operating and maintenance costs
While initial costs of constructing a green home may be higher than a conventional building, ongoing operating costs will be lower. Indeed, eco-friendly houses save money by reducing energy and water use and by optimizing the global usage of resources, especially non-renewable. This aspect should not be underestimated as energy costs are expected to increase in coming next years. International research has confirmed that sustainable buildings consume 25–35% less energy than a traditional house. Additionally, if they incorporate water-saving strategies, they can use up to 39% less water. The World Green Building Council’s Business Case for Green Building (2013) finds that a minimal 2% upfront cost to support green design can result in average life cycle savings of 20% of total construction costs, more than 10 times the initial investment.
Studies confirm that a building can negatively affect occupants’ physical health (e.g. asthma and respiratory allergies) through poor air quality, extreme temperatures, excess humidity, and insufficient ventilation and psychological health (e.g. depression and stress) through inadequate lighting and acoustics. In contrast, a green design may improve a home’s livability and occupants’ well being by offering fresh air, natural light, healthy materials and comfortable temperatures.
You can find listed below some of the main benefits that a green house offers:
- Thermal comfort. A sustainable building can reach naturally comfortable temperatures, by reducing hot and cold spots and eliminating the need for auxiliary heating or cooling. A lack of thermal comfort can cause stress among the occupants: too warm, people can feel tired; too cold, they will be restless and distracted.
- High indoor air quality. Some studies have found a direct association between indoor environment quality and asthma and allergies. Indeed, indoor humidity and poor air cause mold and dust which are the main allergens. A good ventilation and air movement allows the air to stay fresh with reduced humidity and staleness.
- Natural lighting. Daylight is beneficial for our sight and it stimulates our mental functions. Recent studies have implied that lighting can affect the level of stress and consequently productivity.
- Acoustic Comfort. Sound pollution can affect our hearing ability and long term exposure to load noises may lead to hearing loss and permanent damage to our hearing. A respectful and good acoustic system can protect an indoor environment from sound pollution, whether internal or external.
The presence of all these factors plays an important role in increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism in schools and offices. Indeed, it is estimated that employee’s absenteeism can drop by 41% thanks to the healthier lifestyle, while productivity can improve up to 11%. Green schools and universities can lead to a 25% improvement on test scores.
4. Increased asset values and greater tenant attraction
Thanks to all of the above-mentioned reasons, buildings with better sustainability credentials can enjoy increased marketability. As a growing number of investors and occupants are becoming aware of benefits and savings deriving from this investment, the probability of selling or renting a green house is higher compared to a traditional construction. Studies around the world show that sustainable design can increase resale value and rental rates respectively up to 20% and 8%.
This article shows the enormous benefits that a green building offers in every context. Now it is up to you to change the way you live and choose a sustainable living. A house built using green principles will tend to be more durable, functional, energy efficient and comfortable than one that is not. Furthermore, it respects the environment, enhances your lifestyle and improves your health. You are investing not just in your house, but in you and your family’s future.
If you have decided to take a step towards sustainability, the Australian Government may help you with the Australia’s guide to environmentally sustainable homes.