When developing an efficient sustainable home, a holistic view is required as well as a thorough understanding of all design principles, and how they interact with each other and the environment. These will vary from one site to another, with the intended occupants and their budget.

Core principles

  • The site – slope, trees, natural shading, view, climate, geology of the area, natural wind/breezes in the area, surrounding features and access for vehicles and services.
  • Design, style and material preferences – the needs and wants of the intended occupants.
  • The budget – all decisions being mindful of the budget to ensure the design can be constructed and will be financially sustainable.
  • Size of the home – homes that are correctly sized to meet the requirements of the occupants conserve energy in building and running.
  • Solar passive design – for example, its northerly orientation.
  • Cross flow ventilation – enabling the home to be cooled quickly in summer.
  • Air leakage, balanced with breathability of the home and air quality.
  • Thermal mass, balanced with insulation.
  • Embodied energy, also considering the lifespan of the materials and products specified.
  • As well as the vital factors of Environment, Building Materials used and
    Products to be included in the construction.


When designing, problems can arise if these core principles are not clearly understood, or how they can interact with each other in particular environments.

An example of this is how orientation, insulation and thermal mass should work together to ensure a home performs well in maintaining a comfortable temperature.


In some climates where summers are cooler and winters are very cold, large windows on the east can be a positive design feature.

However including large windows on the east or west in a climate with hot summers, allows heat to enter resulting in insulation and thermal mass working to retain this heat inside.

Find out more about how we custom design your new home.

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