Sustainable Design Part 4 – Tips on Hiring a Green Builder
Green Living Builders Melbourne.
Green living so far we’ve covered an introduction to sustainable home design, given you some great actions to take to improve your current home’s energy efficiency and shown you how to design a super efficient home extension using the principles of passive design. Finally, in part 4 we are going to cover:
- How energy compliant does your new home/ home addition need to be?
- What is a Green Living builder?
- Tips for environmentally preferred outcomes when hiring a builder.
How energy compliant does a new home/ home addition need to be?
Since May 2011, the Building Commission of Victoria requires all new homes, home extensions or alterations in Victoria to have a 6-star energy rating. The 6-star rating is a measure of the thermal performance of your new home, renovation or extension with a minimal contribution from mechanical heating and cooling systems. Although any star rating between 0 and 10 is possible, a rating of 6 stars has been set as the minimum rate of compliance. Minor building alterations that don’t require a building permit are not subject to the 6-star compliance; however, they do still need to be rated under deemed to compliance regulations. Naturally, it is in your best interests to try and achieve the maximum star rating possible as this will save you money on your utility bills, increase your home’s comfort and improve your household’s positive impact on the environment.
When building a new home or extension it is advisable to talk to your Green Living certified builder early on about the best options for achieving maximum energy efficiency and meeting the minimum 6-star compliance.
What is a Green Living builder?
In a previous article, we gave some invaluable information about what a registered builder is. Now, we’ll take a look at what a registered builder that is certified as a Green Living builder means.
The Green Living branding comes under the Master Builders Association (MBA), the main building and construction industry association in Australia. The MBA has created a training program for accredited builders which trains them in the best practices of sustainable design and construction. The training provides competencies in the area of design, building, installation and environmental maintenance and innovation.
Builders who complete the Green Living training and show that they are adopting sustainable innovations in their building practices are then permitted to identify themselves under the Master Builders Green Living branding.
But it doesn’t just end there. To keep operating under the MBA Green Living banner builders must agree to be re-accredited on an annual basis. The re-accreditation requires builders to:
- Submit an annual report to the MBA.
- Show details of all Green Living projects completed during the year.
- Submit reports on the amount of materials that have been recycled or diverted from landfill.
- Show that during projects all excess materials such as soil, screenings, sand or chemicals have been contained within the building site.
Being Green Living accredited has many advantages for the builder. In particular, accredited builders are provided with a set of tools that helps them to design and build innovative sustainable constructions for their clients; a major advantage for both the builder and you, the client.
Ultimately, Green Living is more than just a brand that an accredited builder can promote themselves under. It is a philosophy of building design and construction that becomes part of the builder’s identity, incorporating all the sustainable design and building practices that we have covered in this series.
Tips for ensuring environmentally preferred outcomes when hiring a building contractor
Finally, to conclude this series on Sustainable Design here are some great tips to help ensure that when you hire a building contractor your new home, extension or renovation meets your sustainability requirements:
- Ensure that specifications and drawings clearly indicate your sustainable design and construction requirements.
- If you require sustainable materials or methods that are outside of standard building practice ensure that you have clearly described what you require and include advice on sourcing the materials and implementing the methods. Ensure they comply with regulations.
- If you are going to use high cost items such as windows you should put them in a prime cost schedule to avoid substitution by competitive tenderers.
- You can use contracts that link payment to required environmental outcomes e.g.if the building contractor uses recycled materials, environmentally certified materials or windows that meet your required environmental specifications.
- You should also get your building contractor to advise you on different solutions to your original design i.e. where there is scope for an equal or improved environmental outcome.
- Ensure that there is no ambiguity in your instructions so that changes or substitutions cannot be made without your approval or approval from your designer.
By using a Green Living trained accredited building contractor you should end up with a great home or extension that meets your budget, comfort and environmental requirements.
We hope you have taken away some great information from this 4 part series on Sustainable Design and Green Living. If you’re in Melbourne and need further advice you can always contact Capital Building directly through our number above or via the web form.