The City has developed a Sustainable Buildings Guide to support residents to build and live more smartly across the key themes of design, materials, energy, water, waste, green space, and transport.

Build Smart Live Smart - Sustainable Building Checklist and Guide

Download your checklist here.

Build Smart Live Smart Checklist Booklet

Solar Passive Design Principles

Climate responsive design responds to local climate and site conditions and uses natural opportunities for heating and cooling to keep your home at a comfortable temperature all year round. By applying some basic design principles, you can reduce or even eliminate the need for mechanical heating and cooling (your air con!) and reduce your energy use.

Climate, Site and Orientation

  • Understand the climate. Perth has a temperate climate with both hot and cold conditions throughout the year. Did you know that there are greater numbers of cold days than hot days in Perth?
  • Carefully consider how to situate the building on the site taking into account outdoor living spaces, gardens, (car) access and parking. Orientation will effect which parts of your house are cooled by the shade and heated by direct sunshine.
  • Orient living or “day” spaces to the north to take advantage of natural light and warmth from sun movement.
  • Reduce surface area of walls that face east and west to limit exposure to direct sun and heat load in the morning and afternoon.
  • Bedrooms are best located on the south side as they will stay cool and in the shade.
  • Locate utility rooms such as kitchen, bathrooms, garages and storerooms to the east and west. This uses infrequently occupied spaces of the home to act as buffers to direct sun and heat exposure.

House Orientation

Building Materials

  • A well-insulated home (walls, roof space and floor) will help regulate the internal temperature of a home. As a guide, ceiling insulation should be R2.5 to 3.5, walls R1.5 to 2, and floors R1 to 2.5. The R-value indicates the resistance of the insulation to heat movement, the higher the R-value, the higher the level of insulation.
  • Using materials with a high thermal mass (for example concrete, brick and tiles) internally can help to stabilise the temperature inside the home; thermal mass can help keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • During consecutive hot days ventilate the building at night to help remove the heat stored in the materials and keep the living temperature comfortable.
  • Use light colour roofing materials to reflect sun and heat gain.

Windows and Glazing

  • Carefully consider size and placement of windows to assist natural ventilation and cross flow of air through the building and to optimise northerly sun exposure (with screening during summer).
  • Minimise glazing and openings on the east and west to limit exposure to direct sun and heat load in the morning and afternoon.
  • Use the Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) to select windows for their heating and cooling performance.


  • Provide shade to the north, east and west of the building and its outdoor spaces to reduce summer temperatures, improve comfort and save energy while allowing winter sunlight access.
  • Eaves or overhangs are the most cost effective way to provide shade.
  • Other external shading devices include verandahs, patios, awnings, shade sails or roller shutters.
  • Or strategically place planting and landscaping, including evergreen and deciduous vegetation.



  • Maximise natural ventilation, essentially a free form of air-conditioning. It helps flush out hot, humid air during the hotter months, but also ensures a healthy indoor environment by flushing out air-born pollutants and contaminants.
  • Place windows and openings to catch prevailing breezes as much as possible.
  • Consider the way the window opens; sliding, louvre or casement windows provide the highest level of ventilation (90%), whereas awning windows only provide 15% ventilation.



  • Consider planting a waterwise, native and/or productive garden. Green spaces help naturally cool your home.
Residents are encouraged to contact a City of Canning Planner for advice on sustainable design between 8:15am – 5:00pm every weekday in the City of Canning administration building. If you wish to contact the planning department by email, please send your enquiry here.

For further details on any of the above items contact the City of Canning Sustainability Officer on 08 6229 4435 or send an email.

Subscribe to our Community Sustainability Newsletter or view previous editions here.