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Sustainable Architecture & Design: Why it Matters

By Rhianna Poole

With the current state of the global climate and the steady depletion of natural resources, it’s more important than ever that we start to consider the effects of building and infrastructure on the environment.

Today, we’re chatting to Peter Stutchbury about sustainable architecture and design – and why it matters.

Q. How important is it to consider sustainability when designing a home?

It’s fundamental. After what we’ve been doing to the planet for the last hundred years, it’s a responsibility for us all to be less of a drain on the world’s resources.

Having an environmentally sound home makes you aware of daily energy consumption and therefore makes you a more conscientious person. It also saves money as less energy usage means less money wasted funding that energy.

It ultimately makes for a more physically comfortable life. For example if you design your home and you’re conscious of the seasons; where the sun rises and falls, you can build your home to make use of the sun where you need it most. It’s about wellbeing. You can change the nature of the house by designing it with respectful principals intact.

Q. What are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to designing an environmentally friendly home?

Environmentally friendly is a broad term. Personally, I like to focus on the spiritual element of the house and the wellbeing that comes from that.

It’s certainly important to embrace an environmental approach when designing your home, so you’re conscious of the space you are living in. For example if you build a house that’s like a box, with little ventilation and few windows, you’re likely to become quite introverted.

I use the term ‘environmentally respectful’ so that takes into consideration the respect of your neighbours, respect for the climate and respect for the urban landscape.

Sustainability is also important and this means the inclusion of systems that reduce the energy usage of the home to make the building a wholly respectful structure.

Q. What are the top 3 things you always consider when designing a ‘green’ home?

  1. People – Every person is unique and different and it would be irresponsible to design homes that don’t accommodate the differences in people. Think about tailored suits. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach; they’re tailored to fit the individual who will be wearing it. It should be no different for houses; they should be designed specifically for the people who live in them.
  2. Place – You can’t grow a rainforest in a desert. You must consider the climate of where you are building and cater to that in your designs.
  3. Connection – A good architect will create a connection between the style of home and it’s setting whether it’s urban, suburban or rural.

Q. What are the top 3 things that you’d like to see changed in current home designs to make them greener?

  1. Level of adaptation – There are lots of prohibitive laws in place for architects and they’re very stringent. For example height restrictions don’t always cater for the steepness of the land that we’re building on. A little more flexibility with building restrictions would make a big difference in the architecture industry.
  2. Climatic response – Here in Queensland we need to stop catering for mass production homes and start embracing local style homes, with the building structure on the outside. It’s just a more sensible, logical and sustainable way to build a home.
  3. People awareness – Many architects in the industry simply have no clue about how to build environmentally respectful homes. A simple two hour seminar for both professionals and clientele would make the design process a lot easier. Many architects in the industry simply have no clue about how to build environmentally respectful homes

Q. How do you see the future of sustainable architecture and design moving forward?

If we reflect over the last 10 years, sustainable design and architecture was barely talked about and there was only a handful of people practicing it.

Now, it’s regulatory so every architect at least has to have an opinion on it. Because of the way we’ve been using the world’s resources it will have to become mandatory. We can’t keep going down the track we’re going because we’re simply running out of resources.

We also need to downsize and live in smaller homes. Buildings are far too big these days and they require too much energy – I know of houses that cost over $30,000 per year to run.

We need be sensible and look back on how buildings were made 50 years ago and adapt those designs into modern and sustainable structures that we can feel consciously good about.

Story By Carla Jacobs from

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