A building design should aim to improve or maintain the natural
biodiversity of the site. This can be achieved by maintaining the
natural pre-building environment as much as possible, and limiting
the environmental impact of the building and its ancillary landscaping.
Landscaping products are also available which use recycled and
biodegradable materials such as mulch mat manufactured from recycled
paper or decking and fence posts manufactured from recycled PVC.
Select plants that are indigenous to the local region. This reduces
the need for water, fertilizer, and pesticides. They also maintain
the natural habitats for insects, birds and other native fauna.
Avoid the use of plants that are classified as environmental or
economic weeds in your region.
Use natural mulches to reduce the need for watering. If an rrigation
system is essential, use drip line irrigation and a greywater /
rainwater harvesting system to significantly reduce water usage.
A fencing system must be durable.
Naturally durable timber should be selected for all timber elements
not in contact with the ground. Timber posts and other elements
in direct contact with the ground must be treated. Ensure the treatment
system will not leach chemicals into the ground and that the timber
is safe to touch. CCA treated timber has associated health risks.
Treated timber is classified as a toxic material. It can be dangerous
to handle, should never be burnt and should always be disposed of
in waste facilities suitable for the containment of toxic waste.
Masonry wall systems are extremely durable but have a high initial
embodied energy due to the cement used.
Where noise pollution is a problem a heavy weight masonry wall
can act an effective noise barrier.
In addition, the thermal mass properties of masony make a north-south
running wall an ideal environment for frost tender plants in temperate
Locally sourced stone is environmentally friendly, but the concrete
and reinforcement required for structural stability significantly
increases the environmental impact of the finished wall. You can
construct mortar free stone walls, however such techniques must
be used with care in regions prone to earthquakes. Seek engineering
advice and local planning council approval.
Stormwater run off is becoming an increasing problem due to infill
housing signficantly reducing the area of impervious ground surface
and leading to erosion. In addition, rainwater from areas used for
parking cars carried pollutants into waterways.
Porous paving systems reduce stormwater run off, but must be maintained
to flush out collected contaminants.
Paving materials are often sourced from recycling.
Concrete pavers can be manufactured using chopped plastic or recycled
crushed glass aggregate. These can be laid on a bed of crushed glass
instead of sand.
Use crushed, recycled building materials for use as a sub base
for paths and roads. Crushed aggregate can even be used as an aggregate
for in-situ concrete pathways.
Cement with a recycled content can also be used to reduce embodied
Pools, Spas and Saunas
Swimming pools and spas require a large amount of fresh water.
They also frequently use chlorine or other chemical water treatments.
This can be a potential health risk.
The energy required to heat swimming pools can be reduced by good
- Use insulating covers at night
- Paint the pool a dark color.
- Use solar heating systems or heat pumps that use geothermal
heat or waste heat from buildings.
- Ensure spa pools have very high levels of insulation to reduce
the energy required for heating water.
External shading devices can be effective in reducing solar gains
on buildings. Most materials for tension structures are manufactured
Avoid childrens play equipment made from CCA timber treatments
and PVCs. Children are more affected by toxins than adults and more
likley to ingest residues from the surfaces of equipment. The use
of CCA has recently been phased out in a number of countries.
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