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Extremely hot conditions are not uncommon in many parts of Australia. What local residents find hard to tolerate these days is the frequency within which these conditions take place. To counter these extreme periods, the so-called design for climate concept has been vigorously promoted all across Australia as a means of dealing with the increasingly hotter conditions here.

Expectedly, many Australians are wary of the concept initially and this is understandable. After all, anything that is new and untested is often regarded suspiciously. Yet, the design for climate approach is not exactly new and does not actually involve any major change in the home and in the surrounding areas.

In simple terms, design for climate calls for homes to be built in such a way that thermal comfort is achieved. This means keeping auxiliary heat at a minimum especially within the area where a given house is built.

house designed with climate in mind
This Cape Tribulation home does a fantastic job embracing its natural surroundings (and it’s 100% energy sufficient)

This approach should be quite easy to follow for new Australian homes. However, it can prove to be a challenge for the older houses or those put up prior to the introduction of standards for energy efficiency. Given this, some form of modification will have to be considered if you’re planning on remodeling in a way that will keep the occupants of the house comfortable.

In any case, when planning to adopt a home design with due considerations to Australian climate, the so-called climate zones have to be taken into account. There are eight of these in the Land Down Under which have been duly identified by the BCA or the Building Code of Australia.

Of the eight zones, Zone 5 is considered as the most critical since the areas covered tend to experience significantly different climatic conditions especially when compared to the other zones. The daily temperature is often moderate within the zone but during extreme weather, the range within which humans can exist comfortably within the zone is practically non-existent.

Project development group Vati Projects who specialise in townhouse development and unit development in urban zones told us that Zone 5 also happens to cover the more prominent Australian cities like Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth where a good number of people have come to settle. “The zone is likewise home to many different project development and construction businesses which have experienced financial success one way or another because of the trend towards designing to match the climate.”

beach house open plan living
This beach house uses an open plan living design to allow for extra ventilation to take advantage of the sea breeze.

For these reasons, due consideration has to be given when it comes to architectural designs for both residential homes and commercial establishments in the Zone 5 areas. One system that can be put to good use here is passive solar heating. This is a building design where the flooring, the walls, and the windows are created in such a way that these can collect and store solar energy and distribute this as heat during the winter months. This is a popular technique with commercial construction companies as it’s quite easy to implement.

Beach Tree Shack
This Beach Shack takes full advantage of every breeze through hinged walls and stilts

At the same time, passive solar heating has been designed to reject excessive heat produced by the sun during summer. In so doing, the system is able to make full use of existing local climatic conditions. This particular design for climate concept has been most effective for generally new buildings, although existing establishments can be easily retrofitted.

As the phrase indicates, passive solar heating makes use of the power of the sun to produce the needed energy but without the intervention of any major mechanical system. As a design for climate approach, the technology involved in passive solar heating can cause the surrounding air to move in such a way that ensures proper ventilation is achieved. This should be seen as good news for many Australians especially during the hot summer months when the cooling requirements can easily reach extreme levels.

So whether you’re building your own home or moving to a new office, to reduce your dependence on mechanical cooling be sure to consider the buidling design and whether it’s suitable for your climate.

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