What's the biggest surprise of sustainable living?
by Sophie Pickett-Heaps
What surprises people most about living in a sustainable home?
It’s how easy sustainability is on the hip pocket, says Stockland’s co-head of design, Sophie Pickett-Heaps.
“People often think affordability and sustainability are mutually exclusive,” Sophie says.
“But our residents often tell us how pleasantly surprised they are on opening their electricity or water bill. The benefits of sustainability features are all there in black and white.”
Take Stockland’s Melbourne’s Stamford Park development as an example.
Stockland is working with the Green Building Council of Australia to deliver a model development for affordability and sustainability, and is on track to achieve a Green Star rating for the entire community.
Homes in the development, 26 kilometres south east of the CBD, will include solar panels, rainwater tanks plumbed for toilet and laundry usage and garages fitted with electric vehicle recharge points
Stockland estimates that the solar panel systems alone will save future residents of each home between $1,000 and $2000 in energy costs each year, every year.
“A combination of the latest energy efficiency technology and clever design can help residents reduce the cost of owning and running their own homes,” Sophie says.
Stockland’s case study is backed up by a recent study undertaken by RMIT Centre for Urban Research on behalf of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
Researchers assessed four two-bedroom homes with 9 star ratings under the National House Energy Rating Scheme, NatHERS. These houses, built with sustainability principles in mind, were compared with standard practice homes.
That households were around $1,000 a year better off due to reduced energy consumption. They also purchased 73 per cent less energy than those living in a standard practice home, consumed 30 per cent less water and generated 63 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
RMIT also found the households were comfortable with the indoor temperature of their house for 10 per cent more of the time than the control group.
And the householders said they had extra spending money due to low or sometimes even no utility bills. This meant they could buy children Christmas presents or go on a holiday. As one resident said “Look, I haven’t paid any off my power bill in six months and I’m still in credit.”
Sophie says the message from this research is to “think about your long-term investment”.
“If you are like most people, your home will be the biggest investment you’ll make. That means you want a home that is efficient and affordable to run. Sustainability is about securing your long-term future.”