In the first of our environmentally sustainable building design posts we are going to look into why energy efficient homes are so relevant for Canberra. For Australian standards, Canberra has a dry climate with warm to hot summers and pretty cold winters. Rainfall is reasonably evenly distributed throughout the year but even in a small landmass like Canberra, rainfall varies significantly with much higher rainfall occurring in the ranges to the west of the city and less rainfall to the east.
Insulation is extremely important in achieving an environmentally sustainable and comfortable home. In a home without insulation, the heat will flow into the home during summer and out of the home during winter which means you will be heavily reliant on non passive heating/cooling, e.g. powered heating/cooling. Insulation is basically a barrier between you and the outside world; it protects your house from the elements, makes a house more comfortable, use less energy to maintain comfortable temperatures and can also help control moisture.
You are probably thinking all new homes are energy efficient right? Unfortunately the answer is no. Australia is well behind in terms of minimum building requirements for new homes to some other 'extreme' climates. There are places where things like double glazed windows are standard and have actually become cheaper than regular windows because of the economies of scale in production. There's no reason why we can't do that, but the good news is that we are improving and there are more people across Australia waking up to the fact that you don't have to compromise in terms of beauty, functionality and cost when building a sustainable home.