House Plans
Home Remodeling Guide
Interior Design
Air Conditioning
Home Storage Systems
Living Room Furniture
Home Electronics
Audio Systems
Security Systems
Modern Furniture
Classic Furniture
Outdoor Living
Garden Furniture




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.

Timber Fencing

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 Walls

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 regions.

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.


Paving Systems

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

Porous paving systems reduce stormwater run off, but must be maintained to flush out collected contaminants.

Recycled Paving

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 energy.


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 design:

  • 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.


Other Structures

External shading devices can be effective in reducing solar gains on buildings. Most materials for tension structures are manufactured from PVC.

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.

Next: Standards and Ratings

Back to Top

Building Green Index | Carbon Neutral Homes | Low Allergen Homes | Remodeling | Materials | Insulation | Linings | Glazing | Roofs | Cladding | Doors | Flooring | Furnishings | Paints | Flashings & Sealants | Heating Systems | Ventilation | Air Quality | Moisture Control | Utilities | Landscaping | Standards & Ratings


Project Blog

Keep up with the latest progress in our feature home renovations project....more