Study Finds Definitive Link between Sustainable Design and Energy Efficiency

Date: 13.01.2012

Significant effort, capital and time are being invested by western countries to address climate change impacts by constructing more sustainable buildings. Building a sustainably designed dwelling may assist in reducing water and energy consumption through passive measures, but consumption efficiencies may also be enhanced or reduced by the behaviour of the occupants within the dwelling and to date this has not been quantified.

In the paper written by Ben O'Callaghan and Richard Hyde the method and interim results of research is described and is aimed at improving our understanding of whether sustainably designed homes truly achieve lower levels of impact on the environment and also to what extent occupant attitudes play a role in any improvement.

To carry on this study key utility consumption data has been measured using real time monitoring systems embedded with the SD homes at The Ecovillage at Currumbin, Queensland. Environmental attitude questionnaires have been used to better understand residents' behaviours. For this study the primary household resource utilities of energy and water consumption were studied at two comparable estates, the Ecovillage and The Observatory Estate, Queensland.

The impact of major variables such as (sustainable) house design, size of house, hours occupied and the number of occupants were analysed from consumption data and environmental attitude questionnaire results.The analysis of the data suggests the sustainable design of a home contributes significantly to reducing its energy use. In the case of the Ecovillage (which contains homes that must meet comprehensive sustainable design criteria) energy use (on average) was typically 58 per cent less that of the comparable Observatory estate.

When considering the power generated by homes (most extensively at the Ecovillage), the ecovillage consumed just 5.7kWh of grid power per day on average (76per cent lower than the contemporary estate which consumed energy at rates (23 kWh/hh/pd).

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(Source: 20/12/2011, The Fifth Estate, Study reveals sustainabile design of a home reduces energy use, Accessed on 12/01/2012)

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