Top tips for creating a climate-friendly new home

A desire to make a positive change to the world isn’t something you’d immediately associate with your average builder. But then again, TAKE2 Founding Partner Martin Builders are anything but average.

Dave Martin has spoken with TAKE2 about the passive solar design must-haves for a climate-friendly new home, as well as his top tips for retrofitting an existing one. His mission is to not only build, but live in a carbon positive way.

According to Dave, orientation is the most important consideration when building a new home. “Maximising the northerly aspect of the home, particularly in southern Victoria, will have the biggest impact on how the home will perform in terms of minimising energy use and maximising liveability.”

Next is the home’s carbon footprint. This applies not only to the home itself, but how its occupants use it over the life of the building. For Martin Builders, the aim is for a carbon neutral or even carbon positive home (where the house produces more energy than it uses and feeds the leftovers back into the grid).

“Building biology is also very important to us. Half of a building’s biology relates to the structure itself and half is how the occupants live in it,” says Dave. “It includes everything from the materials and finishes in the home, to the type of furniture, linens and even soaps used by the people who live there.

“We put our clients in touch with sustainable, ethical businesses that provide non-toxic finishes, materials and furniture.”  Then there’s a list of plants they like to include in the design.

Dave says clients who have allergies or sensitivities to dust and other toxins notice a significant improvement in air quality once they move in.

He believes a zero waste philosophy is vital when creating a home that’s kind to the environment.  Martin’s currently recycles 60% of its construction waste and is aiming to lift that to 100% by 2020. “We do things like order our timber without any plastic wrapping during the construction phase to minimise waste.” They also encourage clients to embrace similar attitudes to waste once they start living in their climate-friendly new homes.

As well as having a positive impact on the climate, living in a higher star rated home (Martin Builders is currently creating up to 10 stars at the Cape Patterson eco-village) will keep energy prices down for the home-owner.  It’s also a more pleasant place to be.

Retrofitting an existing home with the climate in mind

Once again Dave recommends focusing on maximizing the northerly aspect of your home, whether you’re renovating or extending.

“Insulate the building as much as possible and where you can, integrate some sort of thermal mass in the building through concrete, bricks or water, so you capture the heat from the sun.”

He also recommends sourcing local materials to reduce the miles travelled and if the budget allows, double glazing your windows.

“If you go from a 1950s weatherboard cottage with no insulation to a beautiful sustainable home, the improvement in liveability is just amazing.

“Building is our profession and an easy way for us to bring positive change,” says Dave. “We spend so many hours in our homes and working environments, they should be healthy for us, the planet and the community, so we successfully co-habit with nature itself.”

If you’d like to know more about climate-friendly living, be like Dave and join TAKE2 today.