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Design like a pro


Designing or renovating a home in the Top End with a focus on tropical design is essential for creating a comfortable living space while optimizing energy efficiency. Here are some tips for incorporating a tropical design into your next building project:

  1. Orientation and Layout: North or south facing walls offer the best opportunity for shading sun on windows and walls by the use eave overhangs which don’t obstruct breezes

  2. Wide verandas and balconies: Incorporate wide verandas and balconies to provide shaded outdoor spaces. These areas can act as transitional zones between indoor and outdoor living, allowing for airflow and relaxation

  3. Shade strategy: You should make a strategy for shade, as direct sunlight on your walls will increase your household temperature. Shade can be achieved with plants or man-made structures. You could also consider adjustable shading systems to adapt to different sun angles throughout the day

  4. Windows and doors: Install louvered windows and doors to maximize airflow while providing control over ventilation. Louvers allow for the adjustment of the angle to regulate the amount of sunlight and wind entering the house.
    Use “Low E “glass (ie low emissivity) glass, which is a type of insulated glass that increases the energy efficiency of windows by reducing the transfer of heat

  5. Natural ventilation: Design homes with ample windows on opposite sides to encourage natural cross-ventilation. You can try to include high windows or vents to allow hot air to escape, especially in two-story homes.

  6. Cool roofing and fencing: Choose light-colored or reflective roofing materials to minimize heat absorption. A cool roof and fence help reduce indoor temperatures and the overall cooling load on the house.

  7. Cool walls: The colour of your walls will affect the Star Rating of your home. Choose light-coloured paint and/or cladding

  8. Garden: Plant native and shade-providing trees strategically around the house to block sunlight and cool the surrounding area. Use dense vegetation to create microclimates and enhance natural shading

  9. Insulation: Incorporate insulation in the design, especially in the ceiling and walls, to reduce heat transfer and maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature. Proper insulation not only helps keep the interior cooler but also prevents the infiltration of external heat, reducing the reliance on air conditioning and improving overall energy efficiency. You should choose insulation materials that are appropriate for the tropical climate, considering factors such as moisture resistance and resistance to pests

For more information see the COOLmob Design for the Tropics booklet: