Despite an increase in interest, environmentally friendly homes are still treated with scepticism according to one of Australia’s leading players in the sector.

Green Homes Australia specialises in building houses that have the smallest possible impact on the environment and is fielding a growing number of inquiries from those concerned about their environmental footprint, but with that comes an increase in people with misconceptions about their finished products.

“We do get a lot of people who think to build a green home it has to made out of some unique, expensive material and it’s going to be more expensive than just going with a normal design,” Green Homes Australia relationship manager Josh Hughes said.

“The other thing we encounter is that people think a house that is more energy efficient is going to mean a house that is less comfortable, but there’s absolutely no reason you’ll have to sacrifice comfort,” Hughes said.

While the idea of green home may conjure up thoughts of mud-brick and a thatched roof, Hughes said a green home in Australia is more likely to look like a house that is common in other areas of the world.  

“When we talk about designing a green home a lot of it is making sure it’s orientated right on the block, looking at things like eave-length, window design and location and making sure ventilation is right,” Hughes said.

“It’s about being smarter, we want the house to help cool itself in summer and warm itself in winter. You’ll never really be able to get rid of the need for artificial heating or cooling, but we can do a lot to reduce the need.

“The reality is we’re wising up a bit. A lot of the things you’ll see in a green home are technologies and techniques that have been used for a long, long time in places like North America and Europe where temperatures can get a lot hotter and lot colder than what we get here.”

Hughes said Green Homes Australia has seen inquiries about its products triple in the past year, with a range of different people interested.

“It’s a real mix. We get a lot of younger first time buyers who might be a bit more environmentally aware compared to older generations and we also get quite a few investors who think they can take advantage of what a green home has to offer.

“The other group we get are those looking for a tree-change. They might be people looking to retire or families looking to get out of the city and save by living in a more energy efficient house.”

For investors, Hughes said green building already carries a number of benefits and he believes that will grow in the future.

“In terms of finding a tenant if you’re renting it out, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble in finding a tenant for a house that is at least, if not more comfortable to live in than any other and also comes with energy costs that are much less as well.

“For a commercial landlord you could be looking at a building that cuts its yearly energy usage costs by a quarter which is something I think anybody would take.

“I think we’re going to see it help resale values too, our houses are all certified under ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 50001, which is proof from an independent body they of their standards and if you’ve got that proof that a house or building is going to cost a quarter or so less each year to run, then that’s something that’s going to add value.”