Sustainable Building

There are many sustainable building measures that can be implemented to not only lessen your ecological footprint, but also increase your property’s efficiency, and in some cases – productivity. A passive or semi passive property contributes to lower expenses over the lifetime of the property, through lower running and maintenance costs, cleaner living and its ability to capture nature’s energy.

There are three main categories in which a property can use passive principals: Energy, Waste and Water;


Buildings, which are constructed without giving consideration to passive design principles, frequently have substantially greater heating and cooling costs. Designing a building for energy efficiency, enables substantial savings to be made on the running costs of heating, cooling and lighting, and also minimizes greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from the use of fossil fuels.

Some energy options to be considered include but are not limited to:

Solar Passive Design
Solar design aims to maximize heat gain in winter and minimize heat gain during summer. Using the sun as an energy source and adapting the building design to the local climate achieves this.

Orientation of the Building
With an understanding of the daily and seasonal movements of the sun, a building can be orientated to optimize thermal comfort. This means getting the maximum benefit out of the sun’s energy particularly in winter where the sun can be a major factor in heating and lighting buildings. Maximum solar access can be achieved by orientating rooms and areas that are used most (living and work areas) to the north.

Window Orientation and Shading
The daily and seasonal movement of the sun is also an important consideration in the positioning of windows in a building.

Thermal Mass
Thermal mass refers to the ability of building materials to store heat (ie thermal storage capacity). The basic characteristics of materials with thermal mass are their ability to absorb heat, store it, and at a later time release it. The use of such materials helps to reduce extremes in temperature experienced inside a building, making the average internal temperature more moderate year round and the building more comfortable to live in. Generally, the more thermal mass the better.

Cooling and Heating
If a building is designed to maximize natural ventilation, it is possible to all but eliminate the need for fuel-based space heating and cooling

Roof Spaces
Ventilating the roof space of a building during the warmer months is an effective way of replacing accumulated hot air with cool air from outside and reducing heat radiated from the inner parts of the building through the ceiling. Phoenix Building is happy to recommend different services and products that are able to efficiently move air through a home to substantially decrease the amount of energy used.

Insulation controls the rate at which a building loses or gains heat, keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer. Phoenix Building will always discuss effective insulation, as it is one of the most effective energy efficient measures when installed in the roof, walls and ceilings of the building.

Insulation can also be used to control heat transfer through windows. Up to a kilowatt of heat can enter a building through a square metre of clear glass exposed to direct sun – equivalent to switching on a single-bar electric heater at the hottest time of the day. Winter heat loss through each square metre of single glazing is three times that through an insulated wall, and more than ten times the loss through a square metre of insulated wall. This adds to peak electricity demand and requires increased heating and ventilation system capacity.

Walls, Floors and Ceilings
Insulation is also useful for controlling heat losses or gains through suspended floors and on-ground concrete slabs.

Hot Water
Supplying hot water in large facilities can be an expensive process, which can generate substantial quantities of greenhouse emissions. Supplying 100 litres of hot water per day can cost $300 per year and generate 3 tonnes of greenhouse gases (Australian Greenhouse Office, 1999). In many cases, heat loss from tanks and pipes is greater than the amount of useful heat delivered.

Lighting is directly responsible for more than a quarter of commercial-sector greenhouse gas emissions. Waste heat from lighting adds to air conditioning loads. Simple techniques can be employed to improve efficiency in this area.


More than 110,000 tonnes of waste are sent to Eaglehawk Landfill each year. Of this about 5,000 tonnes are recycled. With total waste volumes growing due to population growth landfills are fast reaching capacities. There is thus a need to reduce waste going to landfill.

Development and construction phase
Phoenix Building encourages the employment of building designs that minimize waste output. Furthermore, we recycle leftover materials where possible and offer leftover unusable materials to organizations that specialize in re-use i.e. metal re-purposing. We also attempt to secure contracts with suppliers where unused materials are able to be returned eliminating waste through over-ordering.

Phoenix Building supports the integration of recycling systems in to the building’s design.


Thoughtful building design can greatly reduce demands on potable water sources. Water consumption can be reduced within buildings through the following measures:

Rainwater Tanks
Installing a rainwater tank to collect rooftop runoff. Rainwater is a valuable natural resource that can be collected for a range of tasks including toilet flushing, irrigation and washing. Using rainwater can reduce water bills while reducing demand on precious potable water supplies.

Efficient showerheads and taps
Using water-efficient (AAA-rated) showerheads and taps reduces water consumption. AAA-rated showerheads deliver less than 9 litres of water per minute yet maintain sufficient pressure to ensure a comfortable shower.

Efficient Appliances
Where washing machines or dishwashers are provided a AAA-rating should be specified. AAA-rated units use 63% less water than standard dishwashers and top loading washing machines and also use less energy and detergent.

Dual flush toilets
Dual flush toilets allow for reduced water amounts to be used during flushing. Additionally, you may like to consider installing waterless urinals. Waterless urinals resemble conventional wall-hung fixtures but function on gravity flow and use absolutely no water.

Onsite water re-use
Consider the re-use of wastewater on-site. On-site wastewater re-use provides numerous opportunities to reduce the amount of potable water used by a building, including toilet flushing and garden irrigation.

Storm Water
The effect of proposed development on storm water quality and quantity must be considered. Building developments exert a considerable influence on both the quantity and quality of storm water. Rooftops, roads, parking lots, driveways and other impervious surfaces reduce groundwater recharge and increase runoff quantities. This increased runoff may place an unnecessary load on existing drainage systems. The level of impact exerted on storm water by a building can be reduced by implementing design features, which seek to approximate the natural water balance of a site prior to the land being built on. The objective of such features is to minimize the extent of impervious surfaces and maximize the potential for filtration, storage and infiltration, so that the least amount of water flows off-site into the storm water system.