Tag Archives: Construction

Are all sustainable homes the same? (The past, present and future of green buildings.)

This post continues on our the theme of what a sustainable home is – and are they all the same? We’ll take a quick look at past, the present, and where we are (or should be!) headed in the future with regards to green buildings. 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. We recently began a series of posts covering the WHY, WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and HOW of sustainable design. 

renovations new homes green building central victoria

 

 

 

I recently wrote about “What is a sustainable house?” which looked at a definition, and listed ten characteristics that I believe constitute a truly sustainable home. But today I want to address how I view that “environmentally friendly” homes have changed in recent times.

I grew up in the bushy Eltham-area (in the outer north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne), which at the time was well-known as an artistic community, who were environmentally conscious with many mud brick homes amongst the trees. Local legend Alistair Knox was a designer, environmentalist, builder, landscape-architect and the arguably the ‘father’ of the alternative natural building movement. From the 1950s to the 1980s, and he designed and built countless earth buildings – for a full list see here!  So I was introduced to this “organic architecture” early on, to these homes made from natural materials of earth and timber, with large windows to connect to the native landscape, and a focus on a wood-fire hearth as the literal heart of the home.

So back then, then the emphasis was about what the house was made from. A focus on locally sourced, organic, natural materials (and living in a more connected way with the natural environment). 

This low-tech approach was (and is) also seen in the owner-builder alternative housing movement, in permaculture, in earth-ships, and also many primitive and vernacular buildings from around the world.

Mudbrick home Eltham Victoria

Environmental Design: the natural way
“Living in the Environment” by Alistair Knox 1975

 

Today, the focus is more about how the house performs. This is much more of a high-tech approach to the energy-efficiency of the building and its services.

There us so much talk about thermal dynamics and heating coefficients, or megajoules / kilowatt-hours / CO2 emissions and zero-carbon / R-values / ten-star rating / consumption per annum… numbers, statistics, technical jargon…

“Autonomous” homes (or those ‘off-the-grid’) of course need to understand all of this to meet their energy and water needs. These days though, many people seem to focus on these high-tech ‘add-ons’ to make their homes greener – instead of ensuring the building fabric is right first, or perhaps even looking more broadly at how sustainable their lifestyles are the choices they make.

To ensure a home “performs” well (which means that it is thermally comfortable with little need for additional mechanical heating/cooling) it is imperative that the building envelope is designed correctly. Today, sophisticated energy-rating software such as FirstRate (and international standards such as Passivhaus) focus heavily on science, statistics, and rigid criteria to get proven results for new buildings.

Unfortunately,  at times the ’embodied’ energy used to make manufacture/process/transport  some high-tech products/materials (e.g. metal or petroleum-derived plastic products or harmful chemical components/finishes) can outweigh the amount of energy that will actually be saved during the performance of the building…and can be toxic to our health, not to mention the earth. This can be a complicated mathematical equation to evaluate over the life of a building, with many factors and variables to be considered, so it can become even more confusing!

Solar Hot Water PV Photovoltaic Solar Power Energy

Green buildings: High-tech solutions
Solar Hot Water and Photovoltaics on Michael Mobbs’ roof in “Sustainable House” 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the first approach is a bit too hippy, and the second too nerdy…can we do BOTH?

YES! Both approaches are crucial for our future buildings to be more sustainable. And encouragingly, this does seem to be happening…

On the one hand, our souls crave the connection to nature, but we should also embrace new technologies which are making innovative breakthroughs all the time, which can improve our buildings and our lives.

On the other, if we continue our over-consumption and greedy ways, and think technology will save us, we are mistaken. It is only when we start thinking of the life-cycle of our built environment in the same ways as the natural environment that we will start to have truly sustainable buildings. 

As always, it is important to remember that sustainable design is NOT an aesthetic or a style, but a philosophical and theoretical approach to how the building is composed.  Please stay tuned to read more about the who, what, when, where, why, and of course we’ll get to the how of sustainable design.

Talina-Edwards-Architecture-Signature

Are all sustainable houses the same? What do you think? What sort of sustainable home do you dream about living in? Does your heart lean more toward the warmth of timber and the texture of stone…or does your head get excited by the latest specs of photovoltaic panels? (I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!)

Don’t forget you can 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 posts!

 

 

 

 

Green building resource guide

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions, so if you have a query  please let us know!

We’ve recently added a “Resources” page to our website, as we often find that we’re recommending links or websites to people for further information. This information will be a permanent page which will be regularly updated. But we wanted to share the news with you first, that it is now live. If you have any additional resources to add – please let us know!

sustainable green healthy home house architecture building

 

There is so much information out there on green buildings, sustainable living and healthy homes, that it can be overwhelming to know where to start!

We’ve compiled this list of resources to help you, and we’ll continue to update it. Hope you’ll find it useful.

 

 

 

BALLARAT RESOURCES:

Smart Living Centre Ballarat: http://smartlivingballarat.org.au

BREAZE (Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions): http://breaze.org.au

Ballarat Permaculture Guild: ballaratpermacultureguild.org/

Ballarat Environment Network: http://ben.org.au

Ballarat Climate Action 2014: http://ballaratclimateaction2014.blogspot.com.au

Ballarat Green Drinks events: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ballarat-Green-Drinks

 

SUSTAINABLE BUILDING/ARCHITECTURE REFERENCE BOOKS:

Your Home” Technical Manual (+free online site): http://www.yourhome.gov.au/index.html

Sustainable House” by Michael Mobbs   http://www.sustainablehouse.com.au

Warm House, Cool House: Inspirational Designs for Low-Energy Housing” (second edition) by Nick Hollo http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6869.htm

Grand Designs Australian Handbook” by Peter Maddison https://shop.abc.net.au/products/grand-designs-aust-handbook-pb

Cradle to Cradle” by Michael Braungart and William McDonaugh http://www.cradletocradle.com

Greeniology” by Tanya Ha: http://www.tanyaha.com/greeniology.html

 

MAGAZINES (PRINT & ONLINE):

Green Magazine: http://greenmagazine.com.au/

Sanctuary Magazine: http://www.sanctuarymagazine.org.au/

ReNew Magazine: http://renew.org.au

Owner Builder Magazine: http://www.theownerbuilder.com.au

Pip Permaculture Magazine: https://www.pipmagazine.com.au

 

GREEN BUILDING WEBSITES – INSPIRATION & IDEAS:

Inhabitat, Design Will Save The World: http://inhabitat.com

Ecological Homes: http://www.ecologicalhomes.com.au/

Sustainable Design Forum: http://www.sustainabledesignforum.com/

Sustainable House Tours: www.sustainablehouseday.com (Second weekend of September each year).

Your Future Home: www.yourfuturehome.com.au

Home style Green: (NZ-based podcast about living in a healthy and sustainable environment, with international content) http://homestylegreen.com

 

GENERAL SUSTAINABLE LIVING:

Living Greener: http://www.livinggreener.gov.au

Sustainability Victoria: http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au

Liveability (Live the way you want, sustainably): http://www.liveability.com.au

“GREEN” Wikipedia http://www.greenlivingpedia.org/Greenlivingpedia

Sustainable Living Festival (Sustainable Living Foundation Australia) http://www.slfestival.org

Sustainable Living Guide: http://sustainablelivingguide.com.au 

One Million Women: http://www.1millionwomen.com.au This is a national campaign to inspire 1 million Australian women to take practical action on climate change by cutting 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse pollutant causing global warming. Every woman who joins has a personal goal to cut 1 tonne of CO2 from their daily lives within a year of joining the campaign.

 

WATER EFFICIENCY:

Save Water: http://www.savewater.com.au

Rainwater Tank Calculations (free online tool): http://tankulator.ata.org.au

Water Efficient Products: www.waterrating.gov.au

CHOICE (independent publisher of consumer information) www.choice.com.au (Generally considers water efficiency in reports and product/appliance rankings)

Saving Water (Dept of Environment and Primary Industries)  http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/water/saving-water

Central Highlands Water (Building and Renovating, Sewer location): http://www.chw.net.au/business/building-and-renovating

Central Highlands Water (Building over easement): http://www.chw.net.au/development/build-over-easements

For solar hot water info, see “RENEWABLE ENERGY” category below

 

SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL SELECTION:

EcoSpecifier (Certified and verified sustainable products database): www.ecospecifier.org

Good Environmental Choice Australia: http://www.geca.org.au/

Forest Stewardship Council Australia: http://www.fscaustralia.org/

Forest Stewardship Council International: http://www.fsc.org/en/

Good Wood Guide: www.goodwoodguide.org.au

EcoBuy (Sustainable procurement advice and support): www.ecobuy.org.au

Greenlist guide (Moreland City Council):  www.sustainablesteps.com.au/pdf/Moreland Greenlist 050905v2.0.pdf

Window Energy Rating Scheme (Window Efficiency Rankings): www.wers.net

 

APPLIANCES (ENERGY EFFICIENT):

Energy Labelling (Appliances) Energy Rating http://www.energyrating.gov.au/

CHOICE (independent publisher of consumer information) www.choice.com.au (Generally considers energy efficiency in reports and product/appliance rankings)

 

RENEWABLE ENERGY / SOLAR HOT WATER:

Alternative Technology Association: http://www.ata.org.au

Green-Power Government Accredited Renewable Energy http://www.greenpower.gov.au

Office of the Renewable Energy Target (and rebate info for solar electricity and solar hot water) http://www.orer.gov.au/

Solar Hot Water Rebate http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/www/html/1378-applying-for-a-solar-hot-water-rebate.asp?intSiteID=4

Solar Hot Water Rebate: www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/www/html/1376-solar-hot-water-rebate.asp

BREAZE Energy Solutions: http://breaze.org.au/about-bes

 

 ONLINE CALCULATORS:

ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT

WWF Australia’s  Ecological Footprint Calculator (for individuals): http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/people_and_the_environment/human_footprint/footprint_calculator/

Global footprint network calculator: http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/gfn/page/calculators

Carbon neutral carbon calculator: http://www.carbonneutral.com.au/carbon-calculator.html

Centre for Sustainable Economy Ecological Footprint Quiz: http://www.myfootprint.org/

WATER FOOTPRINT

Water footprint calculator: http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/YourWaterFootprint

LED LIGHTING CALCULATOR

LED lighting calculator: http://www.ledlightingcalculator.com.au 

R-VALUE (INSULATION) CALCULATOR

R-Value Calculator http://rvalue.com.au

WATER TANK CALCULATOR

Rainwater Tank Calculations (free online tool): http://tankulator.ata.org.au

 

GREEN ROOFS (LIVING ROOFS):

Growing Green Guide: A guide to green roofs, walls and facades in Melbourne and Victoria (free download) http://www.growinggreenguide.org

 

SUSTAINABLE GARDENING/PERMACULTURE:

Sustainable Gardening Australia: www.sgaonline.org.au

Ballarat Permaculture Guild: http://www.ballaratpermacultureguild.org

Permablitz Ballarat: http://www.permablitz.net/regional-groups/25-permablitz-ballarat-part-of-ballarat-permaculture-guild

Permaculture Australia: http://permacultureaustralia.org.au

Holmgren Design, Permaculture vision and innovation: http://holmgren.com.au

 

SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT:

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Public Transport Victoria: http://ptv.vic.gov.au

BICYCLES

Bicycle Network: https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au

Bicycle Route Maps: http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/Moreinfoandservices/Bicycles/BicycleMaps/

CAR-SHARE (Melbourne only at this stage – doesn’t seem to be any in Ballarat yet)

Green Car Share: http://www.greensharecar.com.au

Flexicar: http://www.flexicar.com.au

Goget: http://www.goget.com.au

MORE EFFICIENT CARS

Fuel Efficient Cars: http://www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au/

 

CARBON OFFSET PROGRAMS:

Fifteen Trees (Ballarat-based Tree Planting business): www.fifteentrees.com.au

Greenfleet carbon-offsetting: www.greenfleet.com.au

Climate Friendly carbom-offsetting: www.climatefriendly.com

 

GENERAL ENVIRONMENTAL / CHARITIES / NGO LINKS:

Climate Council: www.climatecouncil.org.au

Climate Action Network Australia: http://www.cana.net.au/

Greenpeace: www.greenpeace.com.au

Australian Conservation Foundation: www.acfonline.org.au

Oxfam Australia: www.oxfam.org.au

Friends Of The Earth: www.foe.org.au

Australian marine conservation society: www.amcs.org.au

Sea Shepherd Australia: http://www.seashepherd.org.au

Amnesty International: www.amnestyinternational.com

Get Up: www.getup.org.au

 

SUSTAINABILITY & KIDS:

Eco cubby: http://www.eco-cubby.com

Green Stuff For Kids”, book by Tanya Ha: http://www.tanyaha.com/green-stuff-for-kids.html

 

USEFUL LINKS FOR YOUR PROJECT:

Climatic Data for your area: www.bom.gov.au/climate/data

DEPI Land Title Register: http://www.land.vic.gov.au

Victoria’s Planning Schemes Online: http://planningschemes.dpcd.vic.gov.au/schemes

Working with your architect” brochure: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.arbv.vic.gov.au/resource/collection/68DFC359-BAC9-4473-8A61-3AEBA966E77F/Working_With_Your_Architect_Brochure.pdf

 

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We’ll aim to answer more questions about sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, also with reference to our local climate (Regional Ballarat area in central Victoria and Melbourne) in future posts. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our monthly news  (over there on the top right-hand side of this page) so you won’t miss out on our posts!

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‘Sustainability Day’ at Design Build Expo 2014 Melbourne

At Talina Edwards Architecture, we’re committed to keeping up to date with the latest news and developments in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, specifically relevant to our local climate here in Ballarat (where our studio is located and much of our work), but also surrounding areas including Melbourne where many of our past and current projects are too. I regularly undertake continuing professional development (CPD) relating to architectural practice and the construction industry, and take a keen interest in current issues of environmental sustainability.

Design Build Expo 2014

Design Build Expo 2014

This week I attended the Design Build Expo at Jeff’s Shed (Exhibition Buildings) at Southbank in Melbourne, which is a trade event held over 3 days showcasing new and innovative building products, and featuring “Industry Insights” presentations by guest speakers who are experts in their fields. The organisers had arranged a “sustainability trail” to the stands that had environmental credentials….so that’s where I headed. I checked out a vast array of building products/materials/systems and came home with an armload of “showbags” packed full of trade literature, brochures and samples  – mainly with regards to insulation, glazing, timber products, LED lighting, E0 (non-toxic) MDF, and more. So many companies claim their products are “eco”, so I was asking lots of questions to find out why they were promoting their product as “sustainable”, or if it really was a lot of greenwash.  Most provided very confident answers under my interrogation, but  many were a left with not much to say when probed about how far their product travels to reach Australian shores, and consequently the high embodied-energy due to transport and/or manufacturer…they are definitely making improvements over the status quo, but we still have a long way to go. I’ll be discussing some of our favourite sustainable building products in future blog posts.

Some of my loot from the day (yes all that paper from all those trees...but I find it so much more helpful to have a real brochure to look at, and samples to show clients)

Some of my loot from the day (yes all that paper from all those trees…but I find it so much more helpful to have a real brochure to look at, and samples to show clients)

I had chosen to go along to this event on “Sustainability Day“, which meant that there were presentations being held all day with topics relating specifically to Sustainability. I attended four of these seminars, which were presented by engaging, informative experts. These talks were invaluable, and I felt very grateful to be there to hear these people sharing their knowledge and insights.

 

 “The National Construction Code and  Sustainability by The Australian Building Codes Board.” was presented by Neil Savery

He explained that they’re not a regulatory body; they write the standards, but it’s up to each state and territory government in Australia as to whether these standards are actually implemented. Disappointingly, he explained that their standards are far from “World’s Best Practice”, but more of a minimum benchmark; the standard below which is not acceptable. (i.e., energy-efficiency of buildings or insulation levels in the standard are set at the lowest level acceptable, which means that we should be aiming much higher than the current standards). Their focus is on “health and safety” of building occupants, and includes initiatives relating to energy-efficiency, water (plumbing), and social issues more these days, bush-fire, noise, disabled-access, etc. With regards to sustainability, they are making incremental changes slowly (i.e. news homes to be five-star rated homes previously, had now gone up to 6-star, and they will continue to make recommendations to the government to increase this when they feel the market is ready).

 

“Reach for the Stars” with Tim Adams (F2 Design) and Sven Maxa (Maxa Design)

Tim and Sven presented their projects which were finalists in the “10 star challenge” competition run by Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV). The star-rating of a new house is a rating that can be analysed using  energy-efficiency rating software (FirstRate), to see how a building performs in relation to its location, throughout the seasons. For a house to achieve a 10-star rating, it means that it is completely ‘passive’, that is requiring to NO ENERGY to heat or cool it. Imagine how much money you’d save if you never had to turn on your heating or air-conditioning EVER again? Imagine how much of Earth’s resources (gas and electricity from non-renewable resources) that would save? Imagine how many greenhouse gas emissions could be avoided? Shouldn’t we all be aspiring to this?! And, the projects that these designers showcased, were also AFFORDABLE to build, and would save money throughout the building’s life. It is possible. It just takes some smart solar-passive design principles and clever material/product choices by someone who is knows about sustainable design….ahem…you know who to call! More importantly, it takes a willing client who sees the many benefits of this approach. And aesthetics? Well, your building could LOOK like a standard brick-veneer, or a slick contemporary piece of architecture, or a natural earth and timber shack…sustainable design is not a “style”, but an approach, a philosophy, or how the building works.

 

“Transforming Australian Cities By City Design” was presented by Professor Rob Adams

This was a very comprehensive presentation that illustrated the many design changes that have been implemented in Melbourne’s CBD over the past 30years, that have really contributed to Melbourne being one of the world’s most livable cities! He showed some leading examples from other cities that have transformed, and the lessons that have been learned. The design decisions were all about improving the ‘public realm’ and bringing life (people) back to the streets. This was done by street-planting and trees, making footpaths wider and more pedestrian-scale, making the city more bike-friendly and less about cars, commissioning public art and culture, encouraging sidewalk cafes and lane way-restaurants, etc…small changes that make a big difference. In terms of sustainability, he also discussed the strategic plans for housing Melbourne’s increasing population – by focusing on ‘activity centres’ and existing infrastructure (public transport, services, amenities, etc.) as places to build medium to high-density housing which will reduce Melbourne’s (unsustainable) suburban-sprawl. None of this was new to me; I’ve been interested in these urban ideas for some time. It was however, refreshing to revisit these ideas and think about them in relation to the Ballarat context – what can we learn from Melbourne’s improvements, and how will population growth affect Ballarat, and the connection/relationship between Melbourne and Ballarat.

 

“World of Certification”, panel discussion chaired by Cameron Rosen

The final presentation I attended was a Panel Session,  comprising representatives from five different Australian certification bodies: EcoSpecifier/Global GreenTag, Australian Forestry Standard (AFS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), and Green Star/Green Building Council Australia.  These parties are all involved in varying capacities to certify products and materials so the consumer has confidence about the environmental credentials of the brand, and not just ‘greenwash’. So even though they are separate groups, they all have the common goal of wanting to provide information about the better options available to us in Australia, with the companies reducing their environmental impact.

 

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day….I do love learning new things (or being refreshed by some things I hadn’t thought about in a while)…Looking forward to sharing more with you all about  sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes again soon.

Talina-Edwards-Architecture-Signature

 

WHY do sustainable design?

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions, and this post is one in our series of informative articles about environmental design.

The first (and most important question) is:

WHY do sustainable design?

(We’ll also be covering what, where, when, who, and how…)

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This is where we need to take a step back, and look at the BIG picture. I think this quote says it all…

”We have not inherited the earth from our fathers, we have borrowed it from our children.”

Talina-Edwards-Architecture-Earth-Quote

So we want our children and grandchildren to live on a planet with fresh air, plentiful supply of clean drinking water, an abundance of wholesome and healthy food, with comfortable living conditions and shelter throughout all the seasons. I talk about this in my Elemental Design Philosophy.

It is now an undisputed fact that climate-change (or global-warming) is happening, and while some politicians and members of the community remain skeptical about the cause, scientists are more certain than ever that human activities are the primary cause for climate change. The burning of coal, oil and gas produces carbon (CO2 or “greenhouse gas”) emissions. So our planet is getting hotter and moister, extreme weather events are going to occur more often, sea levels are rising… which means more flooding and other a greater occurrence of other natural disasters and consequently problems with future food production.  These facts came from the latest research by The Climate Council – follow them to be kept up to date with the latest Australian research.

So how do we help reduce the effects (and speed of) climate-change? Emit less CO2. Use less of earth’s finite resources (coal/gas), use energy from renewable resources (solar/ wind). Use energy more efficiently and use less energy. We all recycle our household waste, we all try to avoid plastic shopping bags, we’re all switching to CFL/LED lights, we might try to use public-transport or ride a bike instead of relying on the car…”It’s good for the environment”… all these little steps do help make a difference, but sometimes we can forget what it all really means and WHY we’re doing it in the first place.

The construction industry has a LOT to answer for in terms of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Figures in the US show that buildings are responsible for almost HALF of all energy consumption (and I’m sure that Australia’s figures aren’t that far behind). See the stats here.

As far as our situation here, “Ecological Footprinting analysis shows that if everyone in the world lived like an Australian (or Victorian) then we would need 4 planets to sustain us”. Clearly that is NOT sustainable. 

So architects, building-designers and all those in the construction industry have a responsibility to ensure that buildings are sensitively designed with sustainability in mind. We will answer more about who, what, when, how next time.

So hope this has helped to answer WHY do sustainable design?

Do you have questions about sustainable design? Please ask away in the comments below!

We’ll aim to answer more questions about sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, also with reference to our local climate (Regional Ballarat area and Melbourne) in future posts.

Talina-Edwards-Architecture-Signature

 

5 Recycling Ideas When Building Your Home (reduce/re-use/reclaim/salvage/up-cycle)

National Recycling Week 2013

National Recycling Week 2013

Did you know that it is National Recycling Week this week?! Founded by Planet Ark, it aims to bring awareness to the environmental benefits of recycling. The focus is mainly on kerbside recycling of waste at home/school/work, so I thought I’d give you some ideas beyond those basics and focus on how recycling can be applicable when building or renovating your home (or any building!). As the construction of buildings is one of the highest uses of energy, it makes sense that if we can recycle components, then it prevents waste, and saves energy that would otherwise be spent on creating something new.

Re-use of building materials commonly saves about 95 per cent of embodied energy that would otherwise be wasted.

 

1. Recycle existing houses

Don’t demolish existing houses, clearing the site and then rebuild from scratch! This is such a wasteful activity in terms of an entire building going to landfill, and then a whole new house being built. If possible, it is always more sustainable to renovate – rearrange/alter/upgrade/add-on/improve/retro-fit the existing house. There are plenty of ways to economically and sustainably do this, without bringing in the wrecking-ball. If some demolition is required, find a demolition-contractor who will de-construct the building and salvage the existing materials so they can be recycled. If the house is pulled apart piece by piece (rather than being reduced to a massive pile of rubble) then many elements can be re-used (either by you, or sold to others). Typically you should be able to salvage roofing materials, framing timbers, flooring, doors and windows, cabinetry, light fittings, and plumbing fixtures.  See here for further information about Building Material Waste and what can be recycled.

 

2. Choose Recycled Construction Materials

If building or renovating, there are many options today for selecting recycled building materials, or those with recycled content. I.e. Recycled/Salvaged Timber, Concrete with recycled aggregate, Recycled Rubber Flooring, Recycled Bricks, to name just a few. The Junk Map site is a great directory for finding recycled building materials (and  furniture and homewares) in Australia, or try Recycle Build Australia an online trade site. Choosing recycled materials doesn’t mean you have to go the extreme of building an ‘earthship’ with your own hands with walls constructed of tyres and bottles (however some of the results can be amazing!).

3. Choose Construction Materials than can be Recycled

Think about the life-cycle of your building and how durable it is – how long will it last? Can the building’s components be recycled at the end of their life? As mentioned in my first point above, when a building can be ‘dismantled’ rather than ‘demolished’ it is much easier to recycle the parts. For example, think about construction methods were components are screwed together rather than glued. i.e. Carpet tiles that can be removed (and recycled at the end of their life) and replaced easily, instead of the whole carpet being pulled up and sent to the tip. Many timbers are excellent at being recycled – particularly if nailed/screw-fixed. Although metals like aluminium and steel are very high in embodied energy (the energy required to make the product), they are also highly recyclable.

Recycled timber doesn't have to look rustic

Recycled timber doesn’t have to look rustic

 4. Consider Recycled Cabinetry/Doors/Windows/Handles

If you can give a new lease on life to something that would’ve otherwise ended up as landfill, then why wouldn’t you?! It is getting much easier to source items these days thanks to ebay, gumtree, local buy/swap/sell sites, trading post online, local salvage yards and of course markets/garage sales etc. Reclaimed kitchen cabinets can have loads of character, and may just require a new benchtop and a coat of paint. Salvaged timber-windows may require new glass (consider double-glazing) but can look fantastic once restored.

Extreme use of recycled windows!

Extreme use of recycled windows!

5. Upcycled Furniture

If you’ve ever spent some time browsing through Pinterest you’re sure to have seen some fabulous ideas for ways clever DIY types are “up-cycling” old palettes/ladders/cots etc. This goes beyond just recycling the second-hand item and re-using it; “upclycing” is all about improving someone else’s pre-loved trash and turning it into a whole new piece of treasure. Or check out Recycled Interiors blog for some ideas.

 

Not all of these ideas will appeal to everyone, but they are all worth considering when building or renovating your home. Each time we re-use and recycle things, it all helps the health of our planet.

Are you a recycler? What’s your favourite recycled/up-cycled item in your home? I’d love to hear your comments below!

If you want to learn more about all things design, architecture, sustainability and healthy homes, please sign up to follow my blog by email (top right hand corner of this page).

Talina x