Save the planet with universal design

Bathroom in an old house has been stripped and bare walls and old tiles remainThe Conversation lists 5 ways to reduce the amount of home renovation waste going to landfill, but fails to mention that incorporating universal design features to suit the lifespan would minimise the need for renovations in the first place. The housing and renovation industry might like us to re-model our homes as our needs change, but not only do we have to consider the renovation cost, we should also think about the environmental cost. Recovering materials and recycling along with other waste reducing strategies are a nice idea but a better solution is not to need major renovations that require partial demolition and major works in the first place. The Conversation article is titled. “Five ways to reduce waste and save money on your home renovation”.   

There is a window of opportunity to save on the cost of renovations and landfill going forward. The Australian Building Codes Board has put out an Options Paper on introducing basic access features in the building code for all new homes. The Options Paper is a long document, but there is a questionnaire at the end which you can use to submit your comments if you don’t have time to write a formal submission. Case studies are also welcome.

Regardless, renovations will be needed in existing housing stock as more people choose to age at home. For most people they will also want the renovations to include the dual principles of universal design and energy efficiency.