Your thoughts on sustainability concepts for this old building....


hi all

seeking sustainability opinions here....we have a concept design for renovation/extension of an old 1930s arts & crafts house that we wanted to gauge broader opinion on before committing to structural & engineering stage....particularly from a sustainability perspective in relation to the lantern style roof....we live in Melbourne Australia (midday sun from the Nth!)....we are the owners and intend this as our forever home...   any views/opinions would be greatly appreciated as with any questions.  thank you.  JJ

Jun 7, 17 12:02 am
Non Sequitur
This is something you should discuss with your architect. That's what you're paying him/her for right?
Jun 7, 17 12:17 am

The following is merely thoughts from my part. Nothing in this post should be applied to your project without first consulting your architect/designer who designing the project OR a more thorough professional level consultation from any of us. 

If I was looking into doing a sustainable design approach on a given or similar plan typology in Australia, I would start with passive solar heating & cooling strategies. As I look at your plan, I would consider carefully enclose the veranda with glazing. I would convert Bedroom 2 & Veranda and move bedroom to where the current living room is and leave an hallway connecting the "Entry" to the room in between the kitchen and what is the current living room. That little room, I would make into possibly a breakfast nook. An option might be to move the Kitchen towards where Bedroom 1 is and move Bedroom 1 to where the Kitchen currently is. Make a connection between the garage and where the laundry room is and in the connection would house a new laundry room and the old (current) laundry room would be part of the kitchen space and a hall / passage way would connect to the pace that is the current dining room from what would become the new living room from what is currently the Bedroom 2 so as to be able to connect to the bathroom.  Moving the kitchen closer to the garage follows general conventions to reducing distance of travel from car to kitchen with groceries.

The veranda decking would need to have some nice thermal storage mass area. However, that would likely alter the character of the building in significant ways. I wouldn't necessarily remove the post columns on the veranda on the north elevation. I would likely keep it as part of a pattern rhythm throughout the design. 

There are just some starting points I would have been considering in my mind. I do understand there are other factors to bear in mind in design decision making.

While these may be my own thoughts on a cursory level. By no means do I suggest that you follow them at this point. If any of these ideas of thoughts were to be considered for your project, there would need to be a thorough professional-level consultation over the ideas with your architect or anyone else here. There are multiple other factors that I would have to be considered and maybe the driving factor in design decisions. 

For those who maybe wondering why in a passive solar design approach that I would be moving spaces that normally in the U.S. would be on the southern part of the building to the northern part of the building would be because the sun moves along the north instead of the south due to being south of the equator. It's for capitalizing on solar heat and cooling strategies. Anyway, that is just some of the reasoning I would be operating on. This would be somewhat of a major floor plan overhaul from the original plan typology to a very different one. This can be trouble if the building is historic and protected.

Jun 7, 17 3:18 am

Consulting starts at $400/hr. plus expenses.

Jun 7, 17 6:54 am

$550 AUD / hr. plus expenses.


Live in the house for a year before doing anything. Seriously. You will find many of the elements you wanted to change are quite useful and appropriate and many of the things you wanted to add are not necessary and may even detract from your enjoyment of the home.

Jun 7, 17 7:29 am

Yes, great advice. Also, you may end up not liking something and not having any way to fix it. Like the neighborhood or the neighbors.


Thanks all for your comments...its a duanting process and committing to a design that we have to live with for next 20yrs is no small thing. We'll likely go consult with a specialist sustainability firm to refine this plan as Melbourne is a hot summer /cold winter place and gas & electric prices are going thru the roof...good sustainable design should save us in the long run and be better for our beautiful planet. Thansk JJ

Jun 13, 17 7:10 am

Landscaping can often do as much, if not more, in ameliorating heating and cooling costs.  A lot of it is not that esoteric, just use of low walls and hedges and evergreens to impart turbulence to winter winds, deciduous trees to shade in the summer and allow sunlight in the winter, ect. Good luck.

Jun 13, 17 7:23 am

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: