Design Features Of A Sustainable Home

The following article featured in the Autumn/Winter 2022 Issue of Havenist and written by Elizabeth Clarke lists the four different design features to make a home more sustainable.

Luxury Architect Perth - Seamus Ryan City Beach 11

1 Building Orientation

When building, factor in your home’s orientation. When positioned properly, it benefits from its surroundings, which helps maintain a constant comfortable temperature inside. “It’s amazing how your home’s orientation impacts your quality of life,” says Seamus Ryan, Perth architect and certified passive house designer. “It can create a negative or positive impact, affecting your home’s internal natural daylight quality, energy efficiency, comfort levels and running costs.” 

 Sun path, prevailing winds and views are the main aspects of building orientation to consider. “Here in Perth, placing living spaces on the north maximises the winter solar gain while ensuring good solar shading during the hotter months,” he says. “Bedrooms are best placed on the southern side of the house to avoid overheating, and solar gains that are not utilised during the day.”

14 Perth Architect Seamus Ryan Cottesloe

2 Thermal Mass

Dense sturdy materials, like concrete, brick and stone, absorb and store heat and take time to heat up and cool down. In winter, these thermal mass materials store heat and slowly release it at night. In warmer weather, they keep your home blissfully cool. “Thermal mass reduces the need for heating,” says Seamus, “but it can be counterproductive if a home is not designed correctly. This can include incorrect wall design and insulation placement, or poor window design. An experienced architect should be consulted to ensure a good-quality design which provides optimum performance.” 

Applecross Residences Seamus Ryan Architects Luxury Homes

3 Insulation

Insulation is an excellent energy-saving measure that helps keep heat inside in winter and outside in summer. “Insulation’s install and construction can make or break a good-quality result,” says Seamus. “The performance of any insulation product is known as its R value. The higher the value, the better the level of insulation.” Insulating your home reduces your energy consumption and CO² emissions considerably. Seek out the best performing insulation possible when refitting or building to ensure a good thermal building envelope. “Ask your architect to complete construction details for the builder to ensure minimal thermal breaks and bridging,” advises Seamus. “It helps create a high performing home.”

City Beach Residence Luxury Home Seamus Ryan Architects

4 Glazing

Glass not only reduces glare and cuts cooling cost, it controls comfort and wellness levels, making it a critical component to consider when building or renovating. Improving glazing thermal performance also reduces energy consumption, which lowers costs and emissions. “Windows connect to the outdoors, providing natural daylight and reducing confinement,” says Seamus. “Up to 40 percent of a home’s heating energy can be lost through windows, so considering their thermal performance is critical when purchasing windows and doors.” When choosing your glass doors and windows, find out their U value rating for a combined rating for glass and frame. “The lower the U value, the better the performance,” says Seamus. “Installation construction detailing by your architect is also critical to ensure good-quality airtightness to the perimeter of the window. It’s a major component of a certified Passive House.”