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Tips on designing the 'coolest' home to embrace the Sunshine Coast lifestyle

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Sunshine Coast Council is encouraging people to implement housing design tips that embrace our sub-tropical lifestyle and help keep things ‘cool’.

The council has developed a Cool Homes booklet and smart phone compass to help people understand our local climate and how the sun in winter and summer impacts the liveability of homes.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said it was about protecting and enhancing our beautiful region and living in a way that didn’t compromise what we all love so much.

“On the Sunshine Coast, we’re moving toward a low carbon, energy and resource efficient way of life and it’s important to maintain and enhance the lifestyle we treasure,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Council is setting the pace, with a target to become a zero-net emissions organisation and for the community to be low carbon by 2041.

“This project follows on from the hugely successful Sunshine Coast Design book which launched in 2020 and has set an important design vision for our region.

Scroll down for seven design tips

“In the last year we’ve seen our region grow and become home to new families and residents from many different parts of Australia which has had a flow on affect to our housing and construction markets.

“If you’re buying, building or renovating I encourage you to read the new Cool Homes for the Sunshine Coast booklet, to ensure your home takes advantage of our climate, a home that doesn’t need air conditioning running all summer and heating all winter.”

The Hodgson family’s redesign features in the Cool Homes booklet.

Sunshine Coast architect and homeowner Laura Hodgson said her family’s recently renovated home in Currimundi implemented the seven design tips featured in the booklet.

“Our home has been featured in the Cool Homes booklet and my husband Chris and I wanted to transform our modest beach shack into a home that worked with our beautiful climate and embrace the Sunshine Coast lifestyle,” Mrs Hodgson said.

“The original home was a simple box with no direct connection to the front or rear yard and the site was a blank canvas for landscaping with loads of potential. We initially started by landscaping the yard with native coastal species and a large shade tree in the back yard to help cool the site.

“We opened up our small living space by creating an outdoor entertainment area that opens to the north and seamlessly merges with the indoor living space with large sliding doors; these work well in winter as they let the sunshine through and in summer, we get a great natural breeze flowing through the house.

“When we purchased the home, we love that the kitchen was east-facing so it fills with the winter morning sun and the bedrooms are on the south side so stay cooler in summer.

“The homes north south orientation was a deciding factor for us when we bought our home and being in the know we had assessed this prior to purchasing. The compass will definitely come in handy to anyone looking to buy or renovate.

“I think it’s great these design tools are available free to the community. They can help our newcomers develop a checklist of ideas to take to an open house inspection when they’re looking to buy a new home.

“It can be daunting not knowing where to start and the booklet and compass are great starting points to help people talk to a builder or designer about making their home more comfortable, healthy and more affordable to live in without the cost of high electricity bills.

“For my family, these renovations have turned our beach shack into something more comfortable and definitely more liveable for our fabulous climate.”

Sunshine Coast Council’s Liveability and Natural Assets Portfolio Councillor Peter Cox said he was thrilled to see projects such as this come to life to help our community make smart design decisions.

“There’s no denying we have had a hot and humid summer and right now we are in the midst of a mild and cool winter,” Cr Cox said.

“We also have the ability to enjoy an indoor and outdoor lifestyle – especially if we have a home designed to make the most of our weather.

“Living on the Sunshine Coast, is of course, very different to living down south and there is a lot we can do to make our homes more comfortable for the warmer and more humid conditions.

“This new booklet and phone compass can help people understand where to put their rooms, how to let light in to warm or illuminate their home, how to let breezes through, which building materials to consider, where to put shade and the value of gardens to help cool our home.

“The booklet is complete with great tips and ideas and the compass is readily accessible on a smart phone to learn about orientation and the best location for different rooms.

“But these cool tools are not just for those buying or building or for the handy renovators – they can also help our business community, including real estate agents, builders, architects, landscapers and designers.

“I’m looking forward to seeing our community thinking more sustainably. It’s another step in the right direction to becoming Australia’s most sustainable region – Healthy. Smart. Creative.”

The new educational design tools are available on council’s website by searching ‘Cool Homes’:

Pick-up a hardcopy booklet from Sunshine Coast Libraries and Customer Contact counters and scan the QR code on the back of the booklet to access the compass on your smart phone.

Seven design tips to stay cool:

  • Consider the location of your rooms
  • Create and merge indoor and outdoor living spaces
  • Let breezes in
  • Use sunlight to illuminate and warm your home
  • Choose the right building materials
  • Create shade
  • Include gardens and trees

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