The following guest blog post is by Caroline Pidcock, 1MW Ambassador and Sustainable Architect…

This post is part 2 in the Sustainable Considerations for Homes series. Last post, we looked at the areas of:

  • Site
  • Water
  • Energy

This post we will focus on:

  • Health
  • Materials
  • Equity
  • Beauty

We are asking you to imagine that your new home can contribute to the creation of a visionary path to a restorative future. The following is list of possible actions that has been developed using the Living Building Challenge framework.

HEALTH – maximising physical and psychological health and well being

Ensure all occupiable interior rooms have operable windows that provide fresh air, daylight and views. The ability to see to the outside and control access to fresh air and daylight is critical to good mental and physical health.
Ensure the window sizes and locations are suitable for the brief, thermal and ventilation requirements. Windows need to be designed to address project and climate specific requirements, and be able to be closed completely when the external conditions are not favourable.
Plan for appropriately sized external and internal dirt-tracking systems within a separate entry space. These initiatives will help to keep unwanted dirt and environmental toxins out of the house
Ensure all kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas are separately ventilated and exhausted directly to the outside. The outputs of these rooms need to be removed to ensure good indoor air quality.
Ensure that ventilation rates are designed to comply with building codes by using a combination of natural and energy efficient mechanical ventilation systems. While delivering an air-tight building envelope that can be controlled is important, it is also critical to ensure adequate ventilation when the building is sealed.
Prohibit smoking within project boundary. Smoking will only have negative impacts on good health for both smokers and those around them, so should not be allowed.
Confirm that the project includes each of the following six established biophilic design elements:

  • environmental features
  • natural shapes and forms
  • natural patterns and processes
  • light and space
  • place-based relationships
  • evolved human-nature relationships

Biophilia provides elements that nurture the innate human attraction to natural systems and processes, which helps with good mental and physical health.

MATERIALS – endorsing products and processes that are safe for all species through time

Ensure the project does not contain any of the following Red List materials or chemicals:

  • asbestos
  • cadmium
  • chlorinated polyethylene and chlorosulfonated polyethylene
  • chloroflurocarbons (CFCs)
  • formaldehyde (added)
  • halogenated flame retardents
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • lead (added)
  • mercury
  • petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides
  • polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • wood treatments containing creososte, arsenic or pentachlorophenol

These materials and chemicals are toxic and can endanger the health of occupants and those involved in their manufacture and end-of-life disposal. They should be avoided where possible.
Consider the total embodied carbon footprint for the project. This accounts for the total energy that has been built into the project, which will positively recognise the benefits of retaining existing buildings and recycled materials.
Use as many products as possible that have third party certification of their sustainability credentials. This provides a simple means of accessing authoritative confirmation that the material has been grown, harvested and manufactured in recognisably sustainable ways.
Clearly specify certification requirements and who is responsible for delivering certificates showing this throughout the project. This will be required to ensure that the good work done in design and documentation is not lost during the building process. Your architect should set this out in your specifications and drawings.
Try to select materials and services that are available close to the site. This will provide the opportunity for the project to incorporate place-based solutions and contribute to the expansion of a regional economy based in sustainable practices, products and services.
Review the existing building to identify which parts, materials and assemblies are available for re-use or re-cycling elsewhere. Additionally, the project should aim to reduce or eliminate the production of waste during design, construction, operation and end of life. This approach will help to conserve natural resources.
Identify design strategies that address appropriate durability for specified products and materials. Good design should be employed to help ensure materials can last as long as possible.–products-and-materials/pro-16-introduction-to-building-material-durability.php
Identify design strategies to optimize material use as well as collect/reuse “waste” materials. Working with standard material sizes can considerably help reduce the amount of waste resulting from construction.
Design your home so it is easily adaptable for possible future changes with minimal waste, and adaptable for reuse or deconstruction. Good classic design can help reduce the time frame for this and the amount of waste that will be produced when it is done.
Identify strategies for recycling and composting during the building’s operation. Recycling and resource management can be simple to organise if good strategies for doing this is incorporated into the design.

EQUITY – supporting a just, equitable world

Humane spaces that bring out the best in people are designed for people, not cars. Space for cars should be sub-ordinate to the house and designed to be able to be used for other purposes as required.
Design the part of the house that fronts onto the street to be interesting and allow you to be engaged with the what is happening there. This is another way of creating more humane places that are safer for people to use. 
Design the house to be only as large as it needs to be – no more, possibly less! Appropriately sized houses use less in their construction and operation, reducing their lifecycle impact.
Design to ensure compliance with the intent of the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards. This will enable a wider group of people – from babies and those with disabilities through to the elderly – to easily access and use your home.
Ensure no noxious emissions or loud sounds effect the neighbouring properties, especially their ability to use natural ventilation.
Ensure your design does not block sunlight to the neighbouring buildings’ facades and rooftops and complies with required solar access requirements. In achieving your own objectives, a sustainable project will allow its neighbours to be able to do the same.

BEAUTY – celebrating design that creates transformative change

The project should be designed to incorporate features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of culture, spirit and place appropriate to its function. Beauty is a precursor to caring enough to preserve, conserve and serve the greater good.
Consider options for producing and circulating information about the performance and operation of the project to the public. By sharing the lessons learnt, more people can find out about the benefits of this approach and the uptake can be fast tracked.

2 responses to “Part 2 – SUSTAINABLE DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS FOR HOMES…By Caroline Pidcock

  1. This excellent blog post, “Part 2 – SUSTAINABLE DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS
    FOR HOMESBy Caroline Pidcock |” How To Make Roman Shades reveals that u actually understand
    what precisely you r talking about! I really definitely agree with your blog.
    With thanks -Alva

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