Public health intelligence:
Information and the research base for action
After many years of saving, you and your partner are now able to get a bank loan to build your own home. You have been interested in building a house that is environmentally sustainable and have been researching options for many years. You have attended home shows, read magazines, have watched 'do it yourself' programs on TV and visited several locations where land has been for sale. When deciding on which block of land to purchase, you must find out which one is suitable for your proposed home—does it have a northerly aspect for solar power, does it have a water supply, would it be exposed to prevailing winds?
Then you must find out what regulations apply to the building of an environmentally sustainable house. One of the first questions is: what building material will you use? There are those built from timber and brick, or alternatives such as mud brick, straw bale, semi-underground or with a rooftop garden, to name a few. What type of heating system will you install? Are you going to generate your own electricity and put the excess back into the grid? Will you install a grey-water system?
Then there is the question of how to find a builder with experience in using unconventional materials. Do you need an architect to draw up the plan? If you decide to build your own home, what regulations apply? Perhaps you could join a group of people with a similar interest, or consult the Housing Industry Association for information on builders and trade contractors.
In undertaking any new project, one of the key tasks is to utilise data and information to both define the problem to solve and decide on how to approach it. What do