EST 1964

Sustainable Tropical Design

We live and work in tropical Australia where at times the harsh climate conditions can make life uncomfortable, from extreme dry heat inland to humid monsoonal conditions and cyclones on the coast. There are really only two seasons, the wet (4 months hot weather), followed by the dry (8 months cooler weather).

Our buildings provide a robust shelter while maintaining a high level of comfort and security for occupants and minimizing running costs for owners, using the best principles for sustainable tropical design.

Firstly the principles of passive design, i.e. without the use of mechanical cooling or heating, are adopted for each project, as follows:

  • Correct orientation to take advantage of breezes and exclude solar heat gain.
  • Shading of walls and windows.
  • Insulation and sealing the building envelope.
  • Cross ventilation through rooms and spaces and also the roof cavity.
  • Landscaping to cool the building.
  • Use of low thermal mass building materials.
  • Maximizing natural light but excluding glare.

Secondly the principles of sustainable design are applied to energy efficient systems, materials and fixtures, as follows:

  • Design of air-conditioned spaces to encourage mixed mode cooling, passive in the dry season, mechanical in the wet season.
  • Use of energy efficient air-conditioning systems through zoning controls, and consideration for the use of solar or gas air-conditioning. On larger projects the use of chilled water systems with thermal storage tanks are recommended.
  • Use of energy efficient lighting and hot water systems including monitoring.
  • Use of renewable energy systems such as solar PV inverter systems.
  • Design buildings to encourage user access by walking, bicycle and public transport.
  • Use of water efficient fixtures and fittings.
  • Rainwater collection and recycling.
  • Managing stormwater.
  • Use of materials and fittings with lower environmental impacts ,that are not harmful to the health and safety of users.

Our architecture fits into its tropical landscape, captures the elements of light and shade through designing depth into building facades and provides the building’s users with a captivating tropical experience for living, working or visiting.

RPA Architects is dedicated to creating finely crafted, sustainable tropical buildings that are valued by our clients and the whole community.