Design Guides

Cool Homes - Smart Design for the Tropics

By Cairns Regional Council

Getting the design right is essential in our tropical climate. If your home is not designed for the climate you run the risk of having a hot home that is expensive to keep cool, particularly over the long hot summer. This user friendly guide has been prepared to help you work with your architect, designer or builder to incorporate tropical design features into your home from the contemporary block home to the popular "Queenslander'"

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Cairns Style Design Guide

By Cairns Regional Council

Describes in words, pictures and diagrams the tropical style that is the desired design direction for the City of Cairns.

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Building Design and Architectural Elements

Policy by the Old Douglas Shire Planning scheme.

The intent was to specify and illustrate the architectural elements and building design features considered appropriate for residential, commercial and tourist developments in the Shire.

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Building Strong and Cool in the Tropics

By Studio Mango

This guide covers the principals of good design for the tropics. It is written by James Maude, a registered Architect and a Director of Studio Mango Architects. He has worked in Cairns for 17 years and has extensive experience in tropical design and energy efficient homes. He has won the Cairns Affordable Housing and Small Lot Home design competitions, and his design for Studio 197 was FNQ House of the Year in 2009.

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Sustainable Housing Information Kit

By Townsville City Council

The Sustainable Housing Information Kit consists of six guides that consider the various aspects of a home design including orientation, harnessing cooling breezes, shading out the heat, landscaping, materials and enhancing outdoor living. There is information on Townsville's location and climate including prevailing breeze direction and sun angles.

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Sustainable Tropical Building Design: Guidelines for Commercial Buildings

By Cairns Regional Council

To assist in meeting the requirements of the Sustainable Building Design Policy when designing, constructing and renovating Council buildings. These guidelines are also intended as a general reference guide for sustainable design and construction of commercial buildings in the tropics. It includes a Policy and Checklist.

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Your Home Technical Manual

Australian Government: Department of Industry

Australia’s Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes.

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National Construction Codes Guidance Material for Tropical Australia

Australian Building Codes Board

A practical application for dwellings that take account of passive design principles. Climate responsive designs take account of passive design principles with the intention of minimising the need for artificial cooling. Free-running designs require no artificial heating or cooling. Free-running designs rely entirely on passive design features. Hybrid designs include a combination of free-running and conditioned spaces. These designs are popular in northern Australian climates. Download here

Resiliant Building Guides

Build to Last: A Protecting the North Initiative.

Produced by Suncorp with JCU Cyclone Testing Station, Urbis & Green Cross

Cyclones are a fact of life for residents of north Queensland and Suncorp has been helping the Community manage for almost a Century. On average, we know that cyclones will cost $632 million per year, and that this can only increase into the future. We must do a better job of protecting the community from this hazard. The risk to people’s homes, their mental health and the local economy is too high.

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Rebuilding in storm tide prone areas: Tully Heads and Hull Heads, Part 1 Guideline.

Produced by Queensland Reconstruction Authority

The main objectives of the Guideline are to:

  • Improve the resilience of residential dwellings to the impact of a storm tide event predominantly caused by a tropical cyclone
  • Assist in safeguarding property in a storm tide
  • Improve the broader long term sustainability of dwellings and their local context.

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Wind Resistant Housing, Part 2 Guideline.

Produced by Queensland Reconstruction Authority

This guideline is intended to:

  • advise you as a home owner of key issues associated with rebuilding, repairing and maintaining your home associated with tropical cyclones and storms
  • provide guidance to assist in ensuring design outcomes are compatible with the tropical climate
  • outline the approvals process including building certification.

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Renovation Guides

Retrofitting for Sustainability: A Guide for Far North Queensland

Written by Sophie Barrett of Green at Heart and published by the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre

The guide has been compiled with the advice and expertise of local designers, builders, installers and suppliers of energy efficient products in our region through the Tropical Green Building Network (TGBN) to provide everyday householders with specific ideas on how to retrofit their homes for sustainability in the tropics.

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Your Home Renovators Guide

Your Home : Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency

An Independent Guide to improving your home. Whether you're planning a major renovation or just upgrading your bathroom, this guide will help you get the most out of the process.


You'll find helpful advice on creating a renovation that meets all your needs and provides the best value for money, now and for a long time to come.

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Home Buyers Guides

Making Sense of Sustainability: The Handbook

By Stockland North Shore, Townsville

A guide to help you make sense of sustainability, from the time you make your land purchase until you turn on the lights in your new home. More and more Townsville residents are embracing sustainability into their lifestyles.

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Tropical Home Buyers Guide

Produced by Investa Property Group, Defense Housing Australia, the Institute of Sustainable Futures and the University of Technology Sydney.

The Top End and tropics are an iconic part of Australia, known for their relaxed lifestyle, diverse natural beauty and distinctive wet and dry seasons. This Guide is for homebuyers and takes you step by step through the unique considerations you’ll face when choosing a home in this region.


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Air Conditioning & Condensation Guides

Condensation in Buildings: Handbook, 2nd Edition 2014 (Non-Mandatory).

By the Australian Building Codes Board

Condensation is an event which reveals the presence of water vapour in the atmosphere. When the resulting condensate is unable to dry as readily as it forms, it can accumulate to cause problematical wetting in buildings. This Handbook discusses that risk in some detail but also emphasises the overriding goal of keeping buildings dry.

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Airconditioning Residential Best Practice Guideline

By the Brisbane City Council in conjunction with AIRAH

Buying and installing the right air conditioning system for your home can save you money and reduce noise pollution.

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Air Conditioning Residential Best Practice Guideline

By AIRAH

The purpose of this Best Practice Guideline is to define a minimum level of service that AIRAH considers should be delivered by a Supplier* in order to provide a quality result for a Customer.

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