Social media marker Sustainable Houses - Forme Homes

Sustainable Houses


Full exterior view of lavish custom home with garden bed- Custom design on sloping block YOUR IDEAS. DESIGNED. MANAGED. BUILT. Left side White bracket shape two angles Right side White bracket shape two angles

Sustainable Houses

Sustainable housing development sits amongst the many improvements and investments you can make for a more livable and valuable property. With younger generations entering the housing market, and a more environmentally aware Australian social climate, buyers are beginning to demand more sustainable housing. When building a new home, this is an important fact piece of information to consider.

In this article, we look at the many approaches Forme Homes can take in collaboration with you to design your dream home, sustainably. From material considerations, to smart appliance selection, our team can help you build a more sustainable future.


Building a sustainable house

Before we jump into how you can design and build a sustainable home, we should cover a few basics of sustainable home construction.

A sustainable home uses clever design techniques, recycled or environmentally friendly materials, as well as reduced construction waste to save energy, water and future household bills.

In addition to the global and national climate benefits of sustainable housing, home occupants themselves benefit financially and physically from sustainable design. For example: Residents of the Cape Paterson housing development, where houses average over an eight-star energy efficiency rating, welcome energy bills as low as $500 a year due to sustainable design decisions.

Sustainable housing can also positively impact people who suffer from allergies and respiratory illnesses, reducing synthetic irritants and extreme indoor temperatures.

There is no better time to decide to go sustainable than, with many sustainable options best developed during the construction phase. These planning and construction decisions generally fall under a term known as passive design.

Passive house design

Passive house design is a method based on sustainable and comfortable design, primarily concerning heating and cooling. There are many crucial things you can optimise in your home during the design and construction phases, including:

Thermal Insulation: correctly insulating your house using sustainable materials can reduce heat loss and absorption and minimise the need for heating or cooling usage.

Airtightness: building a tighter envelope helps your home retain its heating and cooling and allows you better control over your household temperature.

Controlled ventilation: by building a more airtight home, you benefit from increased insulation and can install controlled ventilation systems, which allow you to control the flow of air when and where you want it. These systems are carefully planned and installed to avoid draughts and prevent a build up of stale stagnant air.

Orientation: planning how your home is positioned can use climatic features such as natural heating and cooling from the sun and wind.

Sustainable building materials

Once you’ve outlined your construction plan and budget, you can start to plan out materials for your sustainable home. This step can involve looking at alternative materials for insulation, windows, paint and glue, amongst other building materials. Some eco-friendly materials you might want to discuss include:

Bamboo: well-known in the eco-friendly market and used in many products, bamboo is a fast-replenishing resource that offers lightweight durability for construction.

Earthwool: consisting of natural bio-based materials and inorganic glass fibres, earthwool is an eco-friendly thermal insulation alternative.

Green Steel: an up and coming material in Australia already being adopted by Swedish companies overseas, green steel is hydrogen-based steel, with the exclusion of
metallurgical coal, which reduces iron consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Polyester: this thermal insulation material is 100% recyclable due to its composition being sourced from recycled plastic bottles. It is also non-flammable and hypoallergenic.

Sheep’s Wool: at a higher material cost, sheep’s wool is a hypoallergenic and naturally fire-resistant sustainable thermal insulation alternative.

Smartwood: made from a combination of nano glue and recycled timber chips, smartwood is an up and coming material with similar properties to natural hardwood.

Timber: sustainably grown or recycled timber encapsulates carbon dioxide before construction, so when used and sealed correctly, it emits no further carbon dioxide into the air.

There are other more ‘out of the box’ materials you may have heard of as well, such as recyclable plastic bricks made from recycled plastic waste and a polymer, or paints and glues with low Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs). They are less common options however.

Modern Designer House

Sustainable house features

One of the easiest ways to improve the sustainability of your property is through energy-efficient home features, which can be selected and installed at any time. However, it is easiest to have ovens, hot water services, sinks, showers and dishwashers installed during the build phase of your new home, when vital areas for installation are easily accessible. This is essentially true when your house may be built on a foundational slab. Some alternatives you might consider include:

ENERGY STAR certified fridge: selecting a high energy star fridge with an energy saver switch can reduce your energy cost by 5 to 10 per cent. You might also consider choosing a fridge that forgoes features like ice makers and dispensers, which can increase energy use by 14 to 20 per cent.

ENERGY STAR dishwasher: choosing a high energy star dishwasher will improve your energy and water usage with features such as soil sensors allowing your dishwasher to detect how dirty your dishes are and adjust appropriately. A better dishwasher can also improve water filtration with better functionality meaning fewer cycles, less wasted energy and water and less fuss.

Induction cooktop: inversely, electric cooktops heat up faster than other stovetops offering higher energy efficiency.

ENERGY STAR Air Conditioning: choosing an air conditioner that is size-appropriate for your space and has programmable temperature settings can help you control your energy usage. You can also purchase air conditioners with optional energy-saving settings. Look for air conditioners with a high energy efficiency (EER) and seasonal energy efficiency (SEER) rating.

3 to 4 WELS Star Water Fixtures: save water with high rated showerheads, toilets and sinks. Consider also installing a wastewater treatment system such as a grey or black-water system, made to reuse treated water for things such as toilet flushing and landscape irrigation.

Rainwater Collection: installing roof gutters and downpipes can allow you to collect rainwater for gardening and toilets.

LED Lighting: with higher energy efficiency and smart lighting options to adjust timing and atmospheric lighting, LED lights offer better functionality, higher longevity and greater savings than older lighting fixtures.

Solar panels: generating your own electricity with a solar panel system, if designed well, will drastically reduce your energy bills (sometimes as much as 80 percent). Noting this before construction commences can help with the roof design of your home. Accounting for the required space in the ideal placement, for the solar panels to be placed, will only improve your energy efficiency even further. For further information, follow this link to YourHome, Australia’s Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes.

Energy efficient windows

An often overlooked part of our homes are the windows, with poor window glazing contributing to up to 40% heat loss and 87% heat gain. Many factors can contribute to the efficiency of your windows, such as glazing, sealing and glass type.

Low emissivity glass, aka low-E, can reduce heat gain and loss through a thin metal layer. You might also consider installing double glazed windows or IGUs (insulated glass units) that use spaced glass panes to create thermal insulation. Finally, suitable framing materials such as uPVC with low heat transmission and weather durability can complete your energy-efficient window installation.

However, it’s not only the materials that can impact your window efficiency but also the installation, with poor sealing methods negating the positive effects of your windows due to gaps allowing air to enter and escape. These design principles can also be applied to doors as well.

Waste minimisation

There are a number of processes and protocols that can also be put into place to reduce remaining construction waste during the build. This plan may involve things such as:

  • Precise material quantity specifications to minimise the presence of excess materials
  • The use of recycled steel and aggregate where possible
  • Timber off-cut collection
  • Reduced supplier trips
  • Recycling efforts following completed construction
  • Minimal cut and fill techniques
  • On-site waste sorting and separation procedures
  • Frequent cleaning and site maintenance to minimise windblown litter
woman with coffee

Property value

Once everything has been built, installed and cleaned, it’s time to enjoy your home and reap the benefits of higher energy efficiency. Whilst your energy bills dropping will seem reward enough, sustainable properties have also shown evidence of higher property valuation. In fact, according to research by CSIRO, sustainable homes are highly marketable, with two-thirds of home buyers preferring energy-efficient homes over standard ones. This increase in demand within the housing market has seen subsequent increases in value, with sustainable homes averaging at a 10% higher sale price than more conventional options. For the more money-smart investor, has provided a Residential Consumer Omnibus report, with a survey group of 1900 people giving feedback on which sustainable features they deem most important.

Sustainable property features consumers are interested in


With solar power, energy-efficient lighting and insulation sitting in the top three valuable features. Including sustainable features within your custom home build can give you an edge in the competitive Australian property market.

Building a sustainable home may seem daunting, but through consultation with our design team, the sky’s the limit. Forme Homes works in full collaboration with our clients to select the best design, materials and features for their homes to give them the best quality of living and asset value. Whether your goal is to reduce your carbon emissions, create a more comfortable living environment or build in line with market trends, we’re here to help fulfill your creative vision.

So get in touch with us today to begin your journey towards a more sustainable housing future!