The 17 Things

General climate classifications can be a great place to start to help you understand the bigger picture of your home’s location and which specific climate appropriate design features to include.

No 1. Climate Zone

0The 17 Things

What Is It?

Australia is a vast continent, with many different climates from the Top End to Tasmania, and Broome to Byron Bay. Even our major population centers: Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, all have quite different climate characteristics.

Climate Zones: Regions with similar climates can be grouped together into “climate zones”. The Bureau of Meteorology has 6 climate zones. The Building Code of Australia has 8 climate zones and the NatHERS software used to generate energy ratings for new homes has 69 climate zones! There are also WERS climate zones which were developed by the Australian Windows Association (AWA) as a framework to develop energy efficient window systems for Australia. WERS climate zones were created by grouping together the 8 climate zones of the Building Code of Australia into three main clusters; heating climate (most of your energy is used to heat your house), cooling climate (most of your energy is used to cool your house) and mixed climate (your energy is used pretty evenly to heat and cool your house).

Intuition tells you that you need different clothing and shelter in Darwin (cooling climate) than in Hobart (heating climate). Buildings should be designed and built to respond in the same way. Homes and apartments which can easily respond to climate changes will be more comfortable and cheaper to run. So these general climate classifications can be a great beginning step to help you understand the bigger picture of your home’s location and your need to introduce climate appropriate design features.

So where is the best place to start to understand how climate impacts your own home’s comfort?

Understanding how climate impacts your own home’s comfort

As a simple starting point to understanding climate zones, The Centre for Liveability Real Estate has chosen to utilise the three main WERS climate clusters for its 17 Things™. But remember, climate zones can be broken up into finer and finer detail until you are even able to consider the microclimate in your own particular neighbourhood.

Our Climate Zone map is based on the WERS Climate zones from the Australian Windows Association. We have separated the Top End region as it is more tropical in nature

Our Climate Zone map is based on the WERS Climate zones from the Australian Windows Association. We have separated the Top End region as it is more tropical in nature

You can use these three main climate clusters to identify the most likely trends in your energy bills as well. For instance; heating is your main focus if you are in a heating climate so your winter energy bill will be bigger than your summer energy bill. Cooling is your main focus if you are in a cooling climate so your summer energy bill will be bigger than your winter energy bill. If you are in a mixed climate the bills will be pretty even all year round.

  1. Heating climate – such as Melbourne, Canberra, Hobart
  2. Cooling climate
    • Hot dry summer, cool winter – such as Brisbane, Alice Springs, Bourke
    • Top End region: Hot humid summer, warm winter – such as Broome, Darwin and Cairns
  3. Mixed climate – such as Sydney, Adelaide, Perth

Climate zones provide a new angle to the “location, location, location” catchcry that is such a feature of the way we look at real estate. Knowledge about the “bigger picture” climate patterns can assist you in renovating your home to better respond to the climate trends that are most likely found in your region.

How will it help me reduce my running costs and increase my comfort?

If a house responds well to its climate zone and its microclimate, it is considered to have good “passive design” and it will tend to be naturally comfortable through the changing seasons year round. Passive design is the house’s capacity to maintain a comfortable temperature using the forces of nature, rather than artificial energy.

Passive design is also extremely important to our household economy: it reduces or eliminates heating and cooling energy expenses, and with rising gas and electricity costs, that has a benefit in cold hard cash.

In latitudes south of the tropics, this means letting winter sun penetrate the living areas, and be absorbed and stored by the building’s materials, so it can be redistributed in the cooler evening hours that follow. This is called “passive solar heating”.

In all latitudes, the flip side is “passive cooling”, where the building excludes the hot sun and can absorb any internal heat for later release to the cooler exterior overnight.

These things happen at no cost, and so the degree to which your house can provide them (realising that many houses can’t do it all on their own) will have a financial benefit.

What professional should I talk to about this?

The Centre for Liveability Real Estate always recommends you consult further with any relevant specialist design or building consultants or assessors before making any decision regarding your specific property based on the Liveability Property Marketing Features™.

There are many architects and building designers, and an increasing number of builders, who understand passive design and are skilled in techniques to improve it. They include HIA GreenSmart builders and designers, Master Builders Green Living builders, BDA and BDAV (VIC only) building designers.

Finding the potential in existing homes is not difficult, especially if the house has “good bones” – good, basic materials and a layout or orientation that can be easily altered to take advantage of the local climate.

Is there anything I need to know before I meet with them?

Being clear about what you want to achieve is important, as is having a clear understanding of the basics, so you can have confidence they know what they are talking about. Having any existing plans of the house, and a site survey if you have one, will also help them conceptualise a design solution. Any special local planning controls that apply to your site would also be helpful.

What is the price range I can expect?

Some professionals may give you some very preliminary advice for free, others may only indicate the sorts of solutions they may provide, so you will need to work this out when you first speak to them. Generally, you get the advice you have paid for, so don’t be afraid to pay a moderate amount (at least some hundreds of dollars) for a site-specific and detailed analysis of your home and its potential for improvement, pending inclusion of a broader assessment of other issues (refer to other items in the list of the 17 Things™).

Good advice of this sort could make many tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of difference to the value of your long-term investment.

 

Where can I find more information?

Microclimates: Beyond the 17 Things™ you can explore finer and finer detail regarding how climate impacts your home. For instance your particular home also sits in its own unique “microclimate”. This is where very localised issues can modify the larger regional climate zone trend. Situations such as topography, proximity to water or large urban development mean that two houses may share a climate zone yet have very different microclimates: one house may be in inner Sydney, surrounded by paving and buildings; the other might be situated in a shady garden on a leafy beachside Sydney headland. Even houses in the same street can have different microclimates if one is on the north side of a steep hill, and the other on the south side. Understanding what your individual property’s microclimate is, and how your home can best respond to it, is a very important aspect of professional design (see more information below).

Designing for climate: There are several good sources for further reading, but the single best place to start is Your Home: Australia’s Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes, with its excellent introduction to design for climate and passive design.

An explanation of simple climate zones (heating dominant, cooling dominant, and mixed) can be found on the Australian Windows Association (AWA)’s Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) website.

If I already have this feature, is there anything I need to know about using it effectively?

If you are already aware of the climate zone of your region you can use the information to focus your attention. Having a home that performs “passively” does not guarantee you will be thermally comfortable or have low running costs. It all depends on how you live in the home, both by understanding and choice.

Understanding: Knowing how passive design works, and then being active in operating the windows and doors, blinds and shading devices, etc. is fundamental to actually making it work properly. It has been wisely said that passive houses need active users.

Choice: You can choose to run a heater instead of closing the curtains on a winter night, or to run an air-conditioner even when a cool breeze is blowing outside. No amount of good design can overcome poor choices.

Does this work better when combined with any of the other 17 Things™

We begin the 17 Things™ with a consideration of a simple approach to climate zones to create the right context with which to discuss all the remaining Liveabilty Features™. The climate zone of your property (either represented as a generalised pattern which we have used in the 17 Things™ or a very localised microclimate assessment) is the basis of good design and construction so all the remaining features are answerable to climate zone in some way from features such as No. 3 Orientation, No. 4 Cross-Ventilation, No. 6 Insulation, No. 7 Density of Building Materials, No. 8 Windows, and No. 9 Shading or Sun Control through to the purchase of No. 10 Efficient Heating and Cooling Devices, No. 12 Efficient Hot Water Systems and the installation of a No. 13 Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System.

Just remember the important thing is how you use these features to adapt to the seasonal changes and climate extremes that you encounter in your home area.

Will this feature be recognised when I sell my property?

Yes; Liveability Real Estate Specialist sales agents and property managers have been upskilled to identify an additional 17 Things™ on top of a standard property appraisal. So if you have invested in any of the 17 Things™ this means your property will be appraised and marketed with real skill and with the best marketing resources for online and print media.

You can book a free property appraisal with a Liveability Real Estate Specialist any time you’re ready to sell or even if you’re not planning to sell for a couple of years. Each of the 17 Things™ has appraisal benchmarks (relevant to existing and new homes) which have been set by relevant industry partners to make sure we deliver a high standard of property marketing. So your Liveability Real Estate Specialist will work through this appraisal checklist with you as they move through your home. It’s a great chance for you to let them know about all the property features you have invested in.


Any questions?

We’re here to help! Just send us your enquiry.

What Is It?

Australia is a vast continent, with many different climates from the Top End to Tasmania, and Broome to Byron Bay. Even our major population centers: Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane , Darwin, all have quite different climate characteristics.

Climate Zones: Regions with similar climates can be grouped together into “climate zones”. The Bureau of Meteorology has 6 climate zones. The Building Code of Australia has 8 climate zones and the NatHERS software used to generate energy ratings for new homes has 69 climate zones! There are also WERS climate zones which were developed by the Australian Windows Association (AWA) as a framework to develop energy efficient window systems for Australia. WERS climate zones were created by grouping together the 8 climate zones of the Building Code of Australia into three main clusters; heating climate (most of your energy is used to heat your house), cooling climate (most of your energy is used to cool your house) and mixed climate (your energy is used pretty evenly to heat and cool your house).

Intuition tells you that you need different clothing and shelter in Darwin (cooling climate) than in Hobart (heating climate). Buildings should be designed and built to respond in the same way. Homes and apartments which can easily respond to climate changes will be more comfortable and cheaper to run. So these general climate classifications can be a great beginning step to help you understand the bigger picture of your homes location and your need to introduce climate appropriate design features.

So where is the best place to start to understand how climate impacts your own homes comfort?

Understanding how climate impacts your own home’s comfort

Climate Map - WERSRemember climate zones can be broken up into finer and finer detail until you are able to consider the microclimate in your own particular neighbourhood.

However, as a simple starting point to understand climate zones, The Centre for Liveability Real Estate has chosen to utilise the three main WERS climate clusters for its 17 Things™;

  1. Heating climate – such as Melbourne, Canberra, Hobart
  2. Cooling climate
    • Hot dry summer, cool winter – such as Brisbane, Alice Springs, Bourke
    • Top End region: Hot humid, warm winter – such as Broome. Darwin and Cairns
  3. Mixed climate – such as Sydney, Adelaide, Perth

Climate zones provide new angle to the “location, location, location” catchcry that is such a feature of the way we look at real estate. Knowledge about the “bigger picture” climate patterns can assist you in renovating your home to better respond to the climate trends that are most likely found in your region.

You can also use these three climate clusters to identify the most likely trends in your energy bills as well. For instance; heating is your main focus if you are in a in a heating climate so your winter energy bill will be bigger than your summer energy bill. Cooling is your main focus if you are in a in a cooling climate so your summer energy bill will be bigger than your winter energy bill. If you are in a mixed climate the bills will be pretty even all year round.

How will it help me reduce my running costs and increase my comfort?

If a house responds well to its climate zone and its microclimate, it is considered to have good “passive design” and it will tend to be naturally comfortable through the changing seasons year round. Passive design is the house’s capacity to maintain a comfortable temperature using the forces of nature, rather than artificial energy.

Passive design is also extremely important to our household economy: it reduces or eliminates heating and cooling energy expenses, and with rising gas and electricity costs, that has a benefit in cold hard cash.

In latitudes south of the tropics, this means letting winter sun penetrate the living areas, and be absorbed and stored by the building’s materials, so it can be redistributed in the cooler evening hours that follow. This is called “passive solar heating”.

In all latitudes, the flip side is “passive cooling”, where the building excludes the hot sun and can absorb any internal heat for later release to the cooler exterior overnight.

These things happen at no cost, and so the degree to which your house can provide them (realising that many houses can’t do it all on their own) will have a financial benefit.

What professional should I talk to about this?

The Centre for Liveability Real Estate always recommends you consult further with any relevant specialist design or building consultants or assessors before making any decision regarding your specific property based on the Liveability Property Marketing Features™.

There are many architects and building designers, and an increasing number of builders, who understand passive design and are skilled in techniques to improve it. They include HIA GreenSmart builders and designers, Master Builders Green Living builders and BDA building designers.

Finding the potential in existing homes is not difficult, especially if the house has “good bones” – good, basic materials and a layout or orientation that can be easily altered to take advantage of the local climate.

Is there anything I need to know before I meet with them?

Being clear about what you want to achieve is important, as is having a clear understanding of the basics, so you can have confidence they know what they are talking about. Having any existing plans of the house, and a site survey if you have one, will also help them conceptualise a design solution. Any special local planning controls that apply to your site would also be helpful.

What is the price range I can expect?

Some professionals may give you some very preliminary advice for free, others may only indicate the sorts of solutions they may provide, so you will need to work this out when you first speak to them. Generally, you get the advice you have paid for, so don’t be afraid to pay a moderate amount (at least some hundreds of dollars) for a site-specific and detailed analysis of your home and its potential for improvement, pending inclusion of a broader assessment of other issues (refer to other items in the list of the 17 Things™).

Good advice of this sort could make many tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of difference to the value of your long-term investment.

Where can I find more information?

Microclimates: Beyond the 17 Things™ you can explore finer and finer detail regarding how climate impacts your home. For instance your particular home also sits in its own unique “microclimate”. This is where very localised issues can modify the larger regional climate zone trend. Situations such as topography, proximity to water or large urban development mean that two houses may share a climate zone yet have very different microclimates: one house may be in inner Sydney, surrounded by paving and buildings; the other might be situated in a shady garden on a leafy beachside Sydney headland. Even houses in the same street can have different microclimates if one is on the north side of a steep hill, and the other on the south side. Understanding what your individual properties microclimate is, and how your home can best respond to it, is a very important aspect of professional design (see more information below).

Designing for climate: There are several good sources for further reading, but the single best place to start is the Your Home: Australia’s Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes, with its excellent introduction to design for climate and passive design.

An explanation of simple climate zones (heating dominant, cooling dominant, and mixed) can be found on the Australian Windows Association (AWA)’s Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) website.

If I already have this feature, is there anything I need to know about using it effectively?

If you are already aware of the climate zone of your region you can use the information to focus your attention. Having a home that performs “passively” does not guarantee you will be thermally comfortable or have low running costs. It all depends on how you live in the home, both by understanding and choice.

Understanding: Knowing how passive design works, and then being active in operating the windows and doors, blinds and shading devices, etc. is fundamental to actually making it work properly. It has been wisely said that passive houses need active users.

Choice: You can choose to run a heater instead of closing the curtains on a winter night, or to run an air-conditioner even when a cool breeze is blowing outside. No amount of good design can overcome poor choices.

Does this work better when combined with any of the other 17 Things™

We begin the 17 Things™ with a consideration of a simple approach to climate zones to create the right context with which to discuss all the remaining Liveabilty Features™. The climate zone of your property (either represented as a generalised pattern which we have used in the 17 Things™ or a very localised microclimate assessment) is the basis of good design and construction so all the remaining features are answerable to climate zone in some way from features such as No. 3 Orientation, No. 4 Cross-Ventilation, No. 6 Insulation, No. 7 Density of Building Materials, No. 8 Windows, and No. 9 Shading or Sun Control through to the purchase of No. 10 Efficient Heating and Cooling Devices, No. 12 Efficient Hot Water Systems and the installation of a No. 13 Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System.

Just remember the important thing is how you use these features to adapt to the seasonal changes and climate extremes that you encounter in your home area.

Will this feature be recognised when I sell my property?

Yes; Liveability Real Estate Specialist sales agents and property managers have been upskilled to identify an additional 17 Things™ on top of a standard property appraisal. So if you have invested in any of the 17 Things™ this means your property will be appraised and marketed with real skill and with the best marketing resources for online and print media.

You can book a free property appraisal with a Liveability Real Estate Specialist any time you’re ready to sell or even if you’re not planning to sell for a couple of years. Each of the 17 Things™ has appraisal benchmarks (relevant to existing and new homes) which have been set by relevant industry partners to make sure we deliver a high standard of property marketing. So your Liveability Real Estate Specialist will work through this appraisal checklist with you as they move through your home. It’s a great chance for you to let them know about all the property features you have invested in.


Any questions?

We’re here to help! Just send us your enquiry.

The 17 Things

The 17 Things

The 17 Things™ are property features that have the potential to reduce running costs and increase comfort if used correctly. You can discuss incorporating these into your renovation with with your architect, building designer or builder. The real estate industry is now identifying these Liveability Property Features™at point of sale or rent through agents that have completed additional training as Liveability Real Estate Specialists.

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