How to design an eco-friendly apartment in Melbourne’s CBD

A study of the city’s existing housing stock found some of the cheapest apartments could be built with a little less energy, but that could have a price tag.

Key points:In Melbourne’s new green zones, residents will be able to use up to 10% less energy per unit of spaceThe study found some apartment designs could be made using up to 20% less electricityThe study was carried out by energy efficiency company IHS, and found some design features were more energy efficient than what was in the existing market.

The study also found that many existing buildings were not designed to take advantage of the new standards.

“We think that we could have done better,” study author and researcher at the University of Melbourne Dr Sam Brown said.

“If we had gone back to a time when we weren’t building any of these large houses that we do today, I think we would have had an energy deficit.”

The report said some of Melbourne’s existing apartment designs were not made to take the new standard, including one in the CBD’s Inner West.

The report also found some buildings did not use as much energy per square metre as they should have, including a three-storey Victorian home in Sydney’s south-east, and a two-storeys apartment block in Melbourne.

It found the biggest saving in energy came in the case of the two-bedroom apartment block, where a 10% reduction in energy was achieved.

“There are some interesting findings,” study co-author and Melbourne University architecture lecturer Dr Dan Brown said, adding that the new green zone rules were “quite a significant improvement” compared to the old rules.

“I think that there’s a lot of people out there who are thinking that this is going to mean that there is going be a bigger shift towards energy efficiency and to building more energy-efficient housing.”

What you need to know about energy efficiencyWhat you don’t need to do in a Melbourne home: How to get the most out of your homeElectricity use is the biggest issue with Melbourne’s green zones.

While the report noted the city had some energy efficiency measures in place, Dr Brown said there were issues with the system.

“It’s not perfect,” he said.”[There’s] a number of things that we know that we can’t control, and that’s where the problems come from.”

He said the study was an attempt to look at how the rules would work across Melbourne.

“One of the biggest challenges for a lot more people to get to the same place is just that they have to get into a lot harder situations to get there,” Dr Brown explained.

“You don’t want to build that type of house in a way that it’s not going to be a big problem.”

Dr Brown said that while Melbourne’s energy efficiency standards had changed, the city did not have an overarching plan to reduce the number of energy-intensive homes it built.

“The problem that we’ve got is that we have this big green zone, but we haven’t really developed a strategy to say, well, we’re not going do that in the future,” he explained.

The Green Zone program, which has been in place since 2006, provides incentives to people to move away from energy-hungry, carbon-intensive building and create more energy dense, renewable housing.

“In many ways, we’ve been very successful in creating an environment where we are building more housing that’s more energy effective, and we’re building more apartments that are energy efficient,” Dr Smith said.