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​Thinking about sustainability as a series of isolated issues
Information about sustainability in the built environment is usually presented using separate categories to describe the concepts, methods and technologies that will influence the design and construction of your building. 


The intention is not to isolate each issue but to simplify a subject that is broad and complex. Sustainability requires integrated and connected solutions and while there are some things that will be more valuable to you than others, it is important to approach it in a holistic way to achieve the best results.

There are two important considerations when reading the residential sustainability content on this website:

1. While separate articles are presented for areas such as energy, water, and health and comfort, it is important to remember that they are not isolated from one another. For example, energy will be used to keep your home warm and dry, resulting in health and comfort, and your hot water use will influence the amount of energy required to heat water.

2. There are outcomes that will be important in your home that are not described within this sustainability section. These may include the aesthetic qualities of interior finishes, the provision of different types of space for different uses, and the ability of your home to provide a safe and comfortable environment for both young and old family members.

Putting products and systems before objectives
​Products and systems are the elements that will help you achieve the sustainability objectives you set out to achieve, but they are not objectives in themselves. There are risks when you jump straight into considering solutions. For example, deciding you want to get a heat pump before setting objectives around comfort and health can lead you to forget the importance of improving the house’s capacity to retain heat. This can result in your heat pump working harder to keep your house at comfortable temperatures and therefore in higher energy bills. 

Assuming high performance from following the Building Code
Requirements included in the Building Code address basic health and safety, as well as minimum durability and weathertightness requirements. If you are aiming for better performance, designing just to meet these minimum standards may result in a house that does not match your expectations. The World Health Organization recommends a temperature range (18°C to 25°C) for children and adults to protect their health. Although the Building Code sets minimum R-values, there is no guarantee your home’s temperature will be within this range. Other factors such as airtightness will also affect the performance of your home. 

Although our Building Code has evolved over time, it is still far behind building codes from other developed countries, especially in terms of building performance and energy efficiency. ​

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