Whether you are building a brand new home, or thinking about a significant renovation, it would be smart to consider some of these product innovations to help cut your ongoing utility costs and enjoy a greener home. They may not all be new, but they are improving in efficiency all the time and if you’ve considered any of these in the past, it might be time to look again.

Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Thinking ahead, a few years, these may well become a vital ingredient of our homes, making us self-sufficient and in the meantime, is simply the right thing to do to preserve water as much as we are able.

Harvesting systems vary in cost from hundreds of dollars to thousands, but will likely reduce your mains water usage by up to 50%.

In fact, many people are able to manage exclusively on harvested rainwater.

Landscape tanks provide an incredibly discreet and attractive solution to water storage and a greener home, building the tanks into retaining walls, garden fences and even pool surrounds as an integral part of your landscaped garden. This allows you to build in a significant amount of water storage that no-one would ever guess was there. They can be painted or rendered to match any external décor finishes.

And these tanks are designed to last over 100 years, so once installed you’ll never need to worry about them again.

Landscape water tank harvesting

Harness the Power of The Sun

Solar is much cheaper than it once was – and is more affordable to install.

Energy Australia now offers solar systems on a 5 year interest free payment plan with no upfront fees – and most systems come with a 25 year performance warranty.

Battery prices are still expensive at around $10000, so the payback will take an estimated 15 years, but if you are building or renovating, that’s a small amount in the scheme of things that will save significant running costs immediately.

Efficiencies in this technology have improved considerably, so you don’t need to worry if your property is not north facing, as this will likely only mean a reduction of 10 – 15% of your energy production.

Solar Energy in your new build

Dynamic Glass

We’ve always been fond of glass in Australia, and its use has extended to flooring, walkways, and internal walls, as a strong, and green building material. Dynamic Glass is coated with electrochromic ceramic, made up of multiple thin layers of metal oxide, which tints on command via a mobile app or adjusts intuitively in response to outdoor conditions. A combination of predictive weather feeds and real time sensors anticipate and respond to changes. By admitting natural daylight and rejecting unwanted glare, dynamic glass creates a comfortable and regulated indoor climate – and is estimated to provide around a 20% energy saving.

Dynamic glass in your new build

Movable Walls

Movable walls have become a recognised element for creating a greener home, maximising space and view, and helping optimise floor plans, square meterage and energy use. Initially employed in small apartments to offer home owners a more flexible space, they have developed to impact the design and building process itself, facilitating a reduction in the footprint of a new homes or commercial buildings alike.

Designers have become very taken with the concept and it’s easy to see why when you see some of the stunningly creative applications in evidence these days. It’s a pretty cool way to live, being able to transform your home to suit your mood, social occasion or accommodation of guests.

Building storage into the walls themselves gives a great illusion of space too and eliminates the need for excessive furniture.

And having the ability to cosy up into small rooms that take little heating in winter means great energy savings too.

Moveable walls in your new build home

Living Roofs

The ultimate manifestation of a greener home, green, or living roofs look amazing, insulate buildings, soak up storm water, reducing urban runoff, and come with the bonus of environmental benefits and create a habitat for wildlife.

The vegetation also filters pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air, helping to lower allergies and respiratory problems such as asthma.

Another benefit for city dwellers is the inherent sound-proofing.

Costs vary, but a living roof is more affordable than you might think, and green roofing can actually extend the life of a roof by over 200%.

Experiments in the US and Canada report a 26% reduction in heat loss in winter and the same reduction in cooling requirements in summer.

Green walls seem to have caught on in Australia a little faster than living roofs, but we’d love to see more of them around.

A green roof for your new build home

If you’d like to build a greener home, talk to Sydney Beach Homes to explore how we can help transform your home into an energy-efficient haven, or design and build a brand new green home, incorporating these elements and more.

Call us any time, or drop by the office for a cuppa. Green tea, of course 🙂


At Sydney Beach Homes, we’re always on the lookout for building products that are both sustainable and have a limited impact on the environment, but they have to look great too – and stand up to the rigours of the environments in which we invariably build.

It has to be said that we love working with natural building products like slate and timber and it’s hard to ignore their natural beauty, but we do understand that with our clients’ busy lives, keeping on top of these things can be an issue. This is especially true of timber decking, requiring maintenance every 6 months, which is not always appealing.

With this in mind, we’ve found a couple of great new building products that we are delighted to recommend to our clients, which are extremely durable and have the looks to match. Both of these home-grown companies make products specifically for the challenging Australian conditions, often overlooked by overseas brands.


Monier has re-invented roofing with their Elemental range, which are manufactured from an advanced fibre reinforced composite, originally developed for the aerospace industry. Monier’s commitment to strength and beauty means Elemental’s ultra-modern appearance will enhance your property while truly protecting you from the elements.

It’s so good to see companies like this creating cutting edge products to inspire the creativity
 of Australia’s architects, designers, builders and families. Its unique aesthetic stimulates exploration with new architectural designs and creative rooflines.

This product is the latest innovation in lightweight composite roofing, with a modern take on classic slate and shingle. Despite its ultra-light weight – 5 times lighter than traditional tiles – it boasts unprecedented strength. The tiles have been designed to withstand ALL the elements the Australian environment may through at us, including harsh sunlight, salty coastal environments, heavy hail and wild storms. It will not rust or dent and will maintain it’s UV colour coating without peeling or flaking.

And they’re cheaper than natural slate.

The Elemental series features an ultra large 1500mm x 750mm panel and a unique 750mm square panel for a contemporary take on the classic look.

We’ve recently selected these tiles for a particular project to achieve the desired Hamptons look of natural slate, but they will work just as well on contemporary styled homes too.

We chose slate grey for this project, but they are also available in 5 other colours.

And these particular building products come with a 30 year performance guarantee – what’s not to love?

Building products for modern homes, Monier roof tiles


There are a few composite wood-effect decking solutions on the market, but we have a good feeling about ModWood decking, which uses recycled milk bottles blended with waste wood fibre. Each linea metre of ModWood decking contains around thirty seven recycled bottles and almost two kilograms of reclaimed pine waste, sourced from a certified plantation of sustainably managed pine, in a process that leaves a minimal environmental footprint.

ModWood products will not warp, crack or splinter under normal conditions, and require no sanding, sealing or painting for long term protection. This is a building product that is manufactured Australia and created specifically to withstand Australia’s harsh conditions. They contain a high degree of UV stability and they are highly resistant to weather, moisture and termites.

Underfoot ModWood feels firm and strong, which is very important for elevated decks. A range of colours from a dark brown/black though warmer red tones, to silver grey is available and each colour features a dark intermittent pigment to compliment the grained finish for a more natural appearance.

One thing we love about the ModWood product is that it does undergo some weathering when exposed to the elements, softening over time to a silver grey colour in the manner of natural wood. Boards also have a similar surface temperature to timber, which feels natural to walk on. And as it does not splinter, ModWood is extremely child-friendly, making it ideal for use around pool or spa areas.

It also perfect for creating privacy with screened outdoor areas and contemporary garden features.

The ModWood Marina collection is a bigger, stronger board, designed for marinas, boardwalks, outdoor furniture and heavy duty decking areas. It’s particularly well suited to ecologically sensitive areas, as there are no nasty chemicals that could leach out. It is highly resistant to the ravages of salt air – and it stands up well to heavy foot traffic.

For those living in bushfire zones, there is also a range of Flame Shield options available that are suitable for bushfire prone areas, rated to BAL 40, and all Modwood products come with a 10 year limited warranty.

Building products for modern homes Modwood decking and screening

All in all, two fantastic Aussie products from a couple of refreshingly innovating companies, that the team at Sydney Beach Homes just can’t wait to put to good use for our busy clients looking for a manageable alternative to natural stone and timber.