The name Cameron Rosen has become synonymous with sustainable building, which is why he is our expert behind the Future Living feature.
This month we ask how the Australian industry is performing in terms of innovation and sustainable building, what products, concepts, trends or innovation is he is hoping to see in the sustainable building sector over the next 5 - 10 years, what are his top 5 projects, energy saving recommendations, thoughts on industry collaboration and more.
1. How is Australia performing compared to the rest of the world in terms of innovative and sustainable building? Are we doing enough?
When you look at how Australia’s coping with the subject of sustainability, we could do a lot more in my opinion.
When you ask me how are we doing compared to America or Europe, they are way ahead, leading by example.
The benefit in that, is that we are able to learn from them, but it also means there are no excuses.
Our problem is that we’re trying to increase the efficiency of our buildings and new developments using old technologies and solutions – it’s time now for us to put those aside and rethink the whole way in which we operate as an industry.
2. What products, concepts, trends or innovations are you expecting or hoping to see in the sustainable building sector over the next five or 10 years?
The next 5 – 10 years will be exciting. Sustainability is here. Suppliers are changing and adopting new products everyday. Reverse masonry will be a common building envelope, whereby the insulation will be on the outside and the thermal mass will be on the inside. But we can’t do that with traditional bricks and mortar – it doesn’t work - it’s too bulky, slow, wasteful and expensive. We have to look at the commercial world and look at their systems and that’s what we’ve put together in Future BUILD – collaboration for industry excellence and sustainability.
3. What examples of sustainability can people see everyday?
As a project manager and sustainability consultant involved with councils and companies, I obviously see a lot of examples but I think what’s interesting is that so would most people – they just don’t realise it.
Take a look down your street – see water tanks? Vegie gardens? Know people who car pool? Hear of neighbours installing new double glazed windows? These are all elements of more sustainable living. The question for us all is what do you need to factor into your life to become sustainable.
4. There’s a lot of focus on the phasing out of grants for solar panels – what other things should builders be recommending to home owners and businesses as a must have energy saver?
When you look at sustainability, what is it asking? It’s asking us to have the ability to sustain ourselves. Our biggest focus as a building industry on what we should provide. We’ve got to provide a product that is healthy, energy efficient and made with materials that are reducing the impact dramatically, at a cost that is affordable. When you look at our traditional product and what we need to provide in a new building it’s simple – we have to change our ways. For new buildings, we can get this right from the start. For existing buildings it’s a little more complicated with the same intent as for new, we have to work on increasing the performance of the old traditional building fabric. This will help to control the heating and cooling requirements. For example, windows are considered to be a weakness in the building envelope, by the frame and glazing type. Using a thermal performing frame and glass without air leaks through or around the window will make a huge difference. Then consider upgrading the insulation in the walls and the ceilings/ roof, then offer shading devices. If all of this is upgraded, then our heating and cooling requirements will be far reduced, enabling the whole house’s energy requirements to operate at a minimum. Once this is achieved our building stock will be able to absorb rising cost in electricity. Then and only then, can we start to talk about renewable energy and water saving devices. Until we provide a quality insulated fabric that can control the outside effects, there’s no point focusing on the latter steps, so my advice is to start with the insulation.
5. How important do you think industry collaboration is in achieving more sustainable outcomes?
In order for our industry to achieve sustainability, we have to collaborate. I’m talking about the designers, the suppliers, the manufacturers, the building contractors. Everyone understands sustainability, it’s been on our doorstep for 4 - 5 years – if we work together, we can build a better solution and Future Living brings that opportunity to the industry. After all, it is our industry, our product and our environment.