Darwin is projected to experience a dramatic increase the number of days with temperatures exceeding 35º Celsius by 2030*, highlighting the need for a more sustainable approach to new tropical housing. The city currently has only eleven days above 35° Celsius in a typical year. However the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency projects that this number will increase to 69 days above 35 degrees by 2030.

The first comprehensive guide to educate home buyers in Australia's tropical north about the benefits to be achieved by incorporating sustainable features into their new home was launched in Darwin today. The Guide was produced by Investa Property Group (Investa) and Defence Housing Australia (DHA) with the sustainability expertise of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

Project homes constitute approximately 80 per cent of new housing purchased in Australia. Research undertaken prior to the production of the Tropical Home Buyer's Guide demonstrated that the majority of new home buyers are unaware of the cost savings and lifestyle benefits of sustainable design features.

Commenting on today's launch, Cameron Holt, Group Executive Investa Land said that the tropical climate presented challenges but also great opportunities for those building a new home above the Tropic of Capricorn.

“With the possibility of energy costs increasing as a result the carbon tax, and residents in the Top End some of the highest energy users in Australia, the need for new home builders to better understand how they can build a more comfortable, energy efficient home is even greater,” Mr Holt said.

“Investa is committed to demonstrating leadership in sustainability. Providing home buyers with the resources that enable them to make informed choices and build a healthy home, with lower than average running costs, and minimal environmental impact is integral to this,” he said.

According to research undertaken for the Guide, a Darwin home with a seven star environmental rating can reduce cooling costs by up to 30% when compared to a five star home. This is among the key messages that Investa is communicating with home buyers though its education program in the Northern Territory.

The Tropical Home Buyer's Guide is a key component of the program. It has been written with no assumed knowledge of the home building process and takes buyers step-by-step through each stage. It outlines the decisions buyers will face as the project progresses and provides specific examples of how informed choices can bring major benefits.

The Guide demonstrates the savings to be made by installing either a solar hot water system or a heat pump and directs readers to government subsidies that may apply. It illustrates how a four star toilet will save up to 1500 litres of water each year, and one three star shower head can save up to $100 a year in energy costs.

In partnership with DHA, Investa is undertaking one of the largest residential projects in Darwin's history. The 1100 lot Breezes Muirhead will deliver an environmentally responsive community, incorporating a system of "breezeways" that separates dwellings and channels prevailing breezes through the site.

Outlining DHA's position on sustainable development, Chief Operating Officer, Peter Howman said, “There is a strong synergy between the undertaking of Investa and DHA's drive to deliver sustainable communities. Sustainability is more than just a word for DHA. We focus on building greener, cleaner and smarter housing and fully support initiatives such as this Guide that encourage individual home buyers to follow suit.”

The Tropical Home Buyer's Guide has been prepared with the expertise of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS and input from Northern Territory building companies, Killarney Homes, Finlay Homes and Build Up Design.

The Guide is based upon a similar document, the Your Home Buyer's Guide which was developed for southern and eastern states and launched in 2007. The Your Home Buyer's Guide was developed in partnership with the Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW) and Landcom, alongside the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Water Resources, the Building Commission and Sustainability Victoria, Queensland Environment Protection Agency, Department of Planning and Infrastructure (WA) and the West Australian Planning Commission.

The Tropical Home Buyer's Guide is available for free download at www.breezesmuirhead.com.au, from the Breezes Muirhead Sales and Information Centre, open seven days a week from 10 am to 5pm off Lee Point Rd on Coleman St, Muirhead or by calling 1300 955 076.

*Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency: http://www.climatechange.gov.au/climate-change/impacts/national-impacts/nt-impacts.aspx

Disclaimer: The Tropical Home Buyer's Guide has been prepared as a guide only and is unlikely to contain all the information that prospective home buyers may expect or require in order to make informed decisions on home building choices. The data is to the best of the authors' knowledge accurate as at the date of publication but may vary from time to time and with location. Prospective buyers should therefore rely on their own enquiries and obtain appropriate expert advice as part of their decision-making process.