Category Archives: Environment

10 ways to keep cool this summer (without air-conditioning)

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After a long, wet and cold Winter, we are finally embracing Summer! We’ve been craving the warmer weather, however we’re now faced with trying to stay comfortable during the heat…ahh the joys of living in a temperate climate! There are ways to keep you and your home cooler, without immediately installing energy-guzzling air-conditioning.

‘Why wouldn’t I just switch on the AC?’
As an architect with a passion for sustainable buildings, I know that it is possible to design homes that are a lot more comfortable than the ‘wooden tents’ many of us inhabit. If our homes are designed to be more energy-efficient, then we can save a large amount of money in terms of running costs, and there are also huge savings in terms of reducing carbon emissions. Our climate is changing, so these extremes in weather will increase, and our comfort levels will be challenged, and we’ll resort to more heating and cooling – can you see the vicious cycle here that we’ve got ourselves into?

‘So, what can I do?’
If you’re planning a new home or renovation, then of course it’s much easier to get the design of your building right from the start! There are ways to upgrade or retrofit existing homes too, and look at your behaviour.

1. INSULATION: We all hear about the importance of insulating our homes for winter to keep us warm inside – and this is equally important in summer. Think of your home as an ‘esky’ – we ideally want insulation to the roof, walls and floor, so we can have more control over the temperature inside. This creates a buffer between our ideal comfort range (around 21degrees C), and the extremes outside.

2. DRAFT-PROOFING: We want to seal those sneaky gaps where unwanted hot/cold air can get in or out. Then you can have control over when you open your windows/doors (when there’s a cool breeze).

3. SHADING: Windows are considered a weak spot in the fabric of the building envelope – like cutting a hole in your esky. Double-glazing is helpful to reduce heat loss in winter, but in summer we also want to keep the direct sun off the glass. Think of how your car turns into a sauna on a hot day. Shading to the outside of the windows works best – whether that be eaves, awnings, verandahs, external blinds, shade cloth, deciduous vines or trees.

4. ‘SHUTDOWN MODE’: On those really hot days, close your curtains and blinds inside if possible to help keep that heat out. Don’t open the windows during the day (especially when there are hot northerlies blowing.) Keep your lights switched off too as your globes can emit a lot of heat.

5. NIGHT PURGE: If your home has heated up during the day (especially if you have internal thermal mass), then leave your windows open at night to take advantage of cooler breezes. If mosquitos or safety are concerns, install some good quality insect screens and/or security screen doors.

6. FANS: Turn on fans only when you will be in the room with them. You can create your own ‘evaporative cooling’ by placing a wet sarong in front of an upright fan, or a gentle water mist. Don’t forget to check that your ceiling fans are set to ‘summer-mode’ if you swapped them over during winter.

7. YOUR BODY: There are also lots of old-school ways to keep you more comfortable. Undress, or wear breathable natural fibres. Keep a spray bottle handy with some essential oils added to the water for a refreshing mist. Dampen a cotton scarf (or tea-towel) to keep your neck cool. Sit with your feet in a bucket of iced water. Get some ice-gel wristbands. Freeze a ‘hot’ water bottle to sleep with.

8. COOKING: Use your BBQ to cook outside. Or stick to a raw-food diet, antipasto, sandwiches, etc.

9. ESCAPE: Go to beach, lake, river, local swimming pool or water park – anywhere there’s water so you can cool down. Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap, seek, slide! Or escape to a public place with cooling such as the cinema, library, art gallery, museum, shopping centre, or I can recommend the frozen section of the supermarket (or the cool-room at the back of a bottle-shop!).

10. EVAPORATIVE COOLING: Evaporative Cooling units use less energy than Air Conditioners, but you have to understand how they work (requiring air flow and water consumption), get an efficient model that’s the right size for your home and ensure you are in the right climate (they are better suited to dry rather than humid zones).

Hope you can see how easy it can be to make some of these changes, so you can keep your cool over summer!

Do you have an air-conditioner or an evaporative cooler? Or do you rely on low-energy solutions like fans and some of the above suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!

Ballarat Sustainable Architect Green Builder


Talina Edwards Architecture: elemental design is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes.Click here to ensure you won’t miss out on our news!

Know the way, go the way, show the way

Ripple Effect, Leadership, LBWR, Ballarat

Hello there! How’s the new year treating you so far? Hope you’ve got off to a good start, and had a chance to have a break and some time for reflection about what your dreams are for 2016! I’m really excited about the year ahead, and this is for a number of reasons, and today I want to share one of them with you! I love improving myself and my business, and this year I’ll have an opportunity for some big personal and professional development with the Leadership Forum (Leadership Ballarat & Western Region) by Committee for Ballarat. Here’s how they explain the program:

Leaders Forum is LBWR’s leadership program for emerging community leaders. Participants explore the possibilities for the future of our regional communities. They:

  • Connect with a diverse range of people and established leaders to explore ideas.
  • Listen to others, learn from them and reflect on their own understandings.
  • Experience practical situations to help understand major issues affecting our regional communities.
  • Think laterally, examine issues systematically and find creative solutions.
  • Question what leadership means and develop their leadership style.
  • Broaden their understanding of how they can lead in their community to achieve positive change.
Samantha Davies and Talina Edwards Small Business Entrepreneur

Samantha Davies awarding me the ‘Peter Davies Scholarship’ for the Leadership Forum for 2016

Continue reading

What can camping teach us about more sustainable living?

Sustainable Design Ballarat Architecture Green Building

“Take only photos, leave only footprints”

We recently spent some time camping down on the Great Ocean Road, at the picturesque National Parks camping site at Johanna Beach in the Otways. There was lots to love about the experience – including sharing my three-year-old son’s joy of his first-time camping! I also noticed that there are a LOT of lessons we can learn about living more sustainably…here’s fifteen for you.  Continue reading

10 ways to love your ‘staycation’

 

Talina Edwards Architect Ballarat Green Builiding

10 ways to love your ‘staycation’ (or how to turn your home into a holiday retreat)!

Not getting away this summer? Never mind, you can still create your own holiday at home with these top tips for re-creating that relaxing vibe!  Continue reading

Charity begins at home: an alternative giving guide to help ‘save the world’

Charity Begins at Home. Blog Post Talina Edwards Architecture Sustainable design Ballarat

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~ ANNE FRANK

[UPDATED 01.12.14]

Well as the year draws to an end and with the smell of Christmas is in the air already, it engages our spirit of generous giving to loved-ones… But I do hate the over-spending and over-consumption of so much non-ethical and non-sustainable “stuff”!  But this post is not a gift guide (you can find one of those here or here), THIS is about extending our generous spirit beyond our loved ones, to our wider community… to help out others at this time of year too.

Here’s some little ways that don’t have to cost much (if anything!) that might just make a big difference to someone, and if that doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, then perhaps you’re missing the point of the Christmas season. ;o)

Show Gratitude

This is the cheapest and easiest one! Just taking the time to say thank-you and letting someone know they are appreciated. You can tell them face to face, send a gift-card, post a comment publicly on social media… Taking this time to be thankful not only brightens someone else’s day, it will improve your wellbeing too!

Partake in Random Acts of Kindness

One of my favourite films of all time is Amelie! If you don’t know it (I highly recommend it!), it is a quirky art house film set in France, about a woman who does cute, odd little things to help influence the lives of the people around her, for the better.  If everyone was a little more kind, imagine the world we could be living in! Some like to see this as “Pay it forward” – or Good Karma – that the kindness you show others now, will be returned to you in a time of need. Maybe you could pay for a coffee/meal for the person in the queue behind you at the cafe, or fill up a parking metre as you leave, donate blood, let a car in front of you in a traffic jam, offer babysitting to parents, walk a friend’s dog, pick flowers from your garden to take to an elderly neighbour….  there are hundreds more ideas online if you’re stuck.

Volunteer Your Time

More than a third of Australian adults are already involved in voluntary work – are you? It also happens to be International Volunteer Day #IVD2014 on December 5th, and the theme for this year is “Make change happen: volunteer“. Helping make a difference in your community at a grassroots level is what it is all about… just by helping in a small way, you are in fact helping to change the world! Often giving your time, is more valuable than giving your money.

Donate with ‘Shout For Good’ App

I first heard about the ‘Shout for Good’ App at the Big Hearted Business Conference, and thought it was such a fabulous idea  – by changing the way we donate to charity in the age of the smart-phone. It is so easy – when you shout yourself lunch, how about donating the same amount to a favourite charity. With a tap on our phone it is that easy! No more being hassled by cold-callers asking you for your bank details for recurring monthly donations to the big charity organisations. Check it out here.

Support a Crowdfunding Campaign

I must admit, I’m quite a fan of supporting these. It is a very different feeling to say, giving money to the Guide Dogs or Oxfam – and please don’t get me wrong, of course each and every charity is worth supporting and I have given to these organisations many times, but I do love that with “Crowdfunding” you are supporting a person or a cause or a big idea that you feel more connected with. You can support, and share in their journey,  and more often than not, you  also get a “reward” because you’ve helped kick in the funds upfront toward capital for their project – so it’s a win-win situation for everyone. I’ve loved receiving some artwork, a CD, or knowing that a tree’s been planted all due to some very worthy ‘pozible’ campaigns. Two that are close to my heart at the moment, and still really need your help, are firstly, a local art and design collaborationCollidescope  where a total of 22 Ballarat visual-artists and fashion designers are working together to create wearable-art as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival – but this is much more than just ‘fashion’! It is about celebrating creativity, community and collaboration! I’m fortunate to know many of the amazing creatives involved in this project, and I can’t wait to see the outcomes. Please see more here.

The other fabulous initiative that you may have heard about isThe Nursery Project‘ by two inspiring local creatives: blogging-royalty and author Rowan Anderson (Whole Larder Love) and his partner – photographer/blogger/cook “the lunch lady” Kate Berry. You may know that they are passionate about simple, wholesome, healthy, down-to-earth living, eating sustainable, and growing your own food and making it from scratch. I love their philosophies and share *most* of them (but, err, as someone who eats predominantly vegetarian, I must admit,  I’m not quite so fond of the raise/hunt/butcher and eat the WHOLE animal – as sustainable as this scenario is!). They “want people to get their hands dirty, minds thinking and bellies and hearts full”. They’ve chosen the Daylesford area for the location, noting “We’re also basing The Nursery Project a short drive from one of the unhealthiest regional cities in Australia – Ballarat – where food and lifestyle choices are at their worst. It’s here that we hope to encourage some positive change.” If you can, please do something to help change this fact, by finding out more here.

UPDATED 01.12.14: I felt compelled to add an update to this post, as I overlooked another fabulous fundraising initiative that is dear to my heart. My lovely friend Gemma is currently in India, working as a pro-bono architect on a very special project which is renovating and building pre-schools for children in the slums of Ahmedabad. This a very big-hearted project, to help improve the lives of these families, by providing well-designed buildings which have adequate light, ventilation, and sewerage (a rare luxury in these parts), which will be used for education, vaccination, and for the community. The project is also very much about affordable eco-architecture, with a big emphasis on reduce, re-use and recycle. I spent time in Ahmedabad, on a four-month stay in India back in 2006, and when I was there I wished I could do more to help… now I can. Please click here to read more about ‘The Anganwadi Project‘, and if you can help contribute a few dollars, know that it will be making a big difference to many lives.

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I’m sure you’re already giving generously to others in your own unique way, I just thought I’d put a few more ideas out there. I think this is especially important to set a good example for kids at this time of year – that it is not about receiving gifts from Santa, it is about giving to others.

And in this spirit of giving, I want to show my gratitude to all of you – my wonderful family, friends, clients, colleagues, consultants, supporters, readers, fellow-bloggers, creative tribes-folk, followers and “likers”. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Without all of you, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing! 

Ballarat Sustainable Architect Green Builder


Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions about environmental design. Don’t forget you can click here to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter  (or over there on the top right-hand side of this webpage) so you won’t miss out on our news!