WHILE some think the jury is still out, there is mounting evidence that the world is facing increased pressure from climate change which will affect almost everything we do in life.
Our homes provide us with a refuge from the climate, but as the climate changes, our homes may not be able to meet this need even as we increase the energy ratings in newer constructions.
In general, temperatures are increasing and extremes in the weather are becoming more likely. The argument is that if climate change is considered when a home is being designed or altered, it is likely to remain comfortable for longer, possibly for the duration of its whole life.
Where the bigger problem lies with the hundreds of thousands of homes built to lesser standards and are now feeling the pressure of higher or lower seasonal temperatures.
In Australia, the average life of a brick home is around 90 years. Many last much longer than this, some go back to the days of early settlers to the region.
In the Goulburn Valley, the elements most likely to affect us will be the temperature changes, bushfires and perhaps even the severity of storms or higher intensity rainfall and flooding that might occur.
The need to cool your home during the summer months will be greater, on the other hand there could be less need to heat the home in winter. Good passive design will help to capture these savings without the need to rely on air conditioners and heating.
There are many options for improving the passive thermal properties of homes such as energy efficient stoves, reflective glazing, external shading, natural ventilation, increased insulation and transition towards alternative energy sources.
Other climate changes such as storm intensity may require additional fixing systems to structures, increasing design limits and the use of impact resistant and waterproof materials.
Hailstone can inflict significant damage and it may be worthwhile preparing homes for the impacts.
Finally, floods. Shepparton has had its share of floods over the years and some regions closer to the waterways will be more prone to flooding than others. When building in these regions, opting to build higher off the ground may not only reduce the risk of flooding but will also benefit the effect on the passive thermal design of the home.