Renovate or Rebuild

Reality TV to grow the market for sustainable homes

A new home makeover show called Renovate Or Rebuild is coming to 9Life on Monday, October 4, and represents a novel approach to growing the market for sustainable homes. If all goes according to plan, it could represent a key piece of work in Australia’s Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings.

As the title suggests, the show challenges teams to decide whether to renovate or rebuild. Teams of two from each state – including some previous contestants from The Block – will tackle a house project.

Renovate Or Rebuild was created out of the CRC for Low Carbon Living, in an attempt to answer the question of whether consumer behaviour change in the residential housing market can be driven by mass media. The show promotes sustainable homes as comfortable, affordable, efficient and healthy. It uses popular storytelling in the form of reality TV, alongside a “call to action” website and an “impact community”.

The impact community – modelled on The Block and War On Waste television shows – includes research partners, peak industry bodies, residential volume builders and developers, construction material suppliers, industry media, utilities, real estate, finance providers and other state and federal government departments. The impact community promotes engagement through social media and provides partner content for the website.

The website actively promotes companies that supply net zero energy home products, and the call to action is designed to influence consumer purchasing behaviours. This approach to behaviour change is common in the private sector, however, this is the first time it has been applied in a collaborative effort between government, industry and academia for social and environmental purposes.

The show takes viewers through the four key steps they should think about to make sure their home is healthy, efficient and comfortable. With more than 80 climate zones, Australians in different states can have very different needs.

The southern states need to consider homes that will stay warm during cold winters, while northern states need to look at efficient ways to keep cool during hot summers. Temperate areas, such as Sydney or Adelaide, need to factor in the needs for both seasons.

It’s also important to consider orientation in heating and cooling.

According to the Renovate Or Rebuild website, the average Australian home uses 40 per cent of its energy for heating and cooling. The orientation of a building can make the most of the sun and shade. For example, positioning a home in a southern climate to make the most of the winter sun, ideally most of the windows would face north.

Renovate Or Rebuild also recommends “zoning” areas in houses to save on energy costs, and considering opportunities for cross ventilation. Designing a home with designated zones, such as positioning living spaces in well-protected areas from the sun in hot climates, reduces the need for cooling in that room. Cross ventilation also allows for better airflow through the home and improves air quality.

The final topic Renovate Or Rebuild covers is how to make a home energy efficient. One tip they mention is to use ceiling fans because they use so little energy.

Reverse-cycle air conditioning is also recommended in common areas such as living rooms, because split systems can be installed in specific areas.

The show first airs on Monday, October 4 on 9Life at 9pm. More information is available at the website.

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