Going green is not just a dream

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Do you remember the days when property extravagance was king? The days where the more mod-cons you could squeeze into a house, the better (and more saleable) it apparently was? While the property market can often still play favourites to those ultra-kitted out abodes, a new player is emerging on the scene: eco-chic. Now, before you picture a tree-mounted bamboo shack laden with solar panels (there was a rebate after all), let me explain.

Recently, in my daily property-perve, I stumbled across a little gem online. At first glance I saw a sleek, modern take on the traditional Queenslander come beach shack. On second look, I noticed that this joint wasn’t just pretty it was uniquely eco-friendly. And it was situated smack-bang in the middle of Brisbane’s urban jungle.

Bulimba is a Brisbane suburb known for its glorious hill-top residences. It’s characterised by large and beautiful homes often habiting the majority of the block and leaving little opportunity to nurture one’s green thumb.

Not in the case of this property however. Eco-friendly, as it is described in the advertisement, is possibly an understatement. REIQ member and selling agent Shannon Harvey tells me that the outdoor shades and extensive use of louvers reduces electricity usage so much so that the owners barely use air-con in summer as it captures all the natural breezes and shades from the sun. The same benefit applies for the insulation. And don’t forget the cooling garden atrium and herb garden (and this is not just a collection of half-dying pots, as in my case). But it’s the foundations of this home that complete the green dream for me.

According to Shannon, long-term sustainability is a feature in this home with quality, long-lasting building materials including the use of steel finishes and extensive use of timber throughout.   Steel can be easily recycled or reused and it is lightweight, making it cheaper to transport. Timber can also be reused.

So what’s next for eco in the property market? Shannon says those who are building homes now are giving more consideration to being green for the long run.

“Sustainability has become a key component in the designs of new developments and for those who are building their own homes. Instead of your big ticket items, such as solar panels, I do predict a trend in more basic yet well-thought out features, such as extensive use of louvers, which will save electricity as the air conditioning doesn’t have to be used as much,” she says.

But I wonder whether it was the reality of climate change or the lure of penny-saving that started the trend? Government rebates for solar panel installation proved very popular with about 23 per cent of Queensland’s detached and semi-detached properties now featuring solar energy systems (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Whatever the reason was this new environmentally-friendly perspective can only be a positive, and hopefully long-lasting, one.