Go green for better wellbeing

Written by Ingrid Gorissen

While I hailed from the wonderful Netherlands, I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to call Australia, and Hervey Bay, home for the past 20 years.

When I realised the theme for this month’s Alive column was ‘gratitude’, the song I Still Call Australia Home instantly popped into my head.

I always get emotional hearing the words because I realise how important the feeling of ‘home’ is to me.

It’s one of the many reasons I choose to be an interior designer with an emphasis on eco design.

Home is where the heart is, a home is about family, lifestyle, people, and connection!

I have never stopped loving my birth country but living here in Hervey Bay is where I truly feel connected to my surroundings, along with a love for the country and its people.

A well-designed home can bring health and happiness to your life, which is why it’s important to think seriously about the way we build our homes and living in ways that can be kinder to the planet.
Afterall, we only get one chance at it!

Hervey Bay has an almost perfect climate and the most beautiful flora and fauna.

Oceans, beaches, subtropical forests, dams, wildlife … we are so blessed!

That’s why we need to carefully consider the way we live and the impact this makes on the environment.

Eco-friendly, green or sustainable; it’s all pretty much the same thing – and it could be the solution if we want lower bills and create healthier, more comfortable living spaces.

Sustainability means different things to different people. For some homeowners, it might mean seeking out old materials to re-use, installing a few solar panels or growing a vegetable garden in the backyard.

The question is why should you introduce ‘greener’ areas to your living spaces?

For me, it’s the care for land and people and the knowing the difference it can make to our overall well-being however, motivations for designing more sustainable homes are numerous.

More people suffer from allergies, so their motivation is creating a healthier environment with natural materials.

Other people might be living in a house that’s either freezing cold or boiling hot, and that motivates them to seek out a sustainable renovation that they hope will solve their problem – and the good news is that yes, there are heaps of things that can be done to create happier and healthier living spaces.

Ecologically sustainable homes tend to be worth a lot more on the market, so there may also be financial reasons to go down that road.

A question that we at Vivere Homes get asked often is; Can you renovate with a focus on sustainability?

If your home is difficult to heat or cool, or it has layout issues, a renovation with a sustainable focus could create a much more comfortable and functional living space.

For new builds, the most important step is to design a home and get the aspects right.

Natural elements like sun, wind, light and shade are free and using them right, a beautiful healthy climate can be created inside your home.

Insulation is the next important step.

Implementing all this will make your house warmer or cooler at the right times.

A good floor plan design is also key. Opening the space allows for airflow, but you have to be careful not to make it too ‘open’ or you lose a lot of energy. Flexible, clever design solutions where you can open and close spaces off to heat specific areas are ideal.

The concept of green architecture is quite beneficial. So when you are thinking of building a new home, why not spend some extra time and build something that will not just give you shelter but will also make a positive impact to your health, pocket and the overall standard of living.

For me, the heart of why I do what I do, is people and their surroundings.

After living in the Netherlands – where I worked inside a building with hardly any connection to the outdoors, and where the weather was often miserable, grey and dark – I know the effect it can have on a mental wellbeing.

It was one of the reasons for the green building study and the move to Australia.

I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason, so for me, I am inspired to everyday learning when it comes to:

Connecting with nature
Understanding place
Understanding natural process
Understanding natural environmental impact
Understanding people

I can then pass on my skills, knowledge and experience to my wonderful clients.