Miami Green Homes


A Green “Home Away From Home”

Becoming environmentally conscious has emerged as a main concern of homeowners, business owners, and the government over the past decade. Green homes, with lower potable water consumption, less energy use, and better building materials are sprouting up all over the world and commercial businesses are following their lead. All of the basics of sustainability easily transfer from one building type, making the possibility for green hotels possible.

  1. Form an environmental committee- This committee will develop a plan for energy, water, and solid waste use.
  2. Monitor electric, water, gas, and waste usage- This should be done monthly and annually. This will also help the hotel determine which of the following should be addressed first and in what order.
  3. Install digital thermostats in hotel rooms and throughout hotel and replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents- These two go hand-in-hand. It is a matter of simple installation. Using the CFL bulbs saves on energy costs, as well as using the digital thermostat. Many hotels inEuropeare using a technique to limit use of air systems and light by requiring that the key card be put in an activation port in order for the lights to be on. This means that when the patron leaves the hotel room and takes their key card out of the port, the lights and air turn off and remain off until the patron returns and put the key card back in the port.
  4. Implement towel reuse program- Many hotels have begun using this technique to save on laundry water used. By hanging up the towel after use, the patron is indicating they will reuse their towel. If the towel is on the ground, housekeeping is expected to remove and wash the towel. For guests staying at a hotel for more than one night, it makes sense to save the towel and wait until it has been used more than once before placing it on the floor to be replaced by a clean one.
  5. Install 2.5-gpm (gallons per minute) showerheads or less in all guestrooms and employee shower areas- Low-GPM shower heads conserve a lot of water and in a building like a hotel where showering can occur every minute of the day, these shower heads work to decrease water used significantly.
  6. Install 1.6-gallon toilets in all guestrooms- Switching from a standard to a low flow toilet can save thousands of gallons of water per year. There are also toilets with two different flush options, one of which cycles out the water, the other flushes all waste.
  7. Implement a recycling program, for light bulbs, batteries, etc.
  8. Purchase Energy Star appliances- These could be the washer and dryer used for sheets and towels, dishwashers, refrigerators, televisions, air conditioners, and much more. A complete list of Energy Star products can be found at: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_find_es_products
  9. All office paper products should have 20% or more post-consumer recycled content

These many different ideas for going green in a hotel environment also apply to green homes, office buildings, schools, and healthcare. The basic ingredients to saving energy require making small changes, whose payoffs can be great in the long run. Hotels require large maintenance and energy costs, and even if going green isn’t the main concern, these methods save money, allowing for lower operating costs.

(SE, EB, edit JLD)



The scent of building, or what is that construction smell…?

Construction sites are not the most pleasant places for both the workers and those around them. They create lots of noise [machinery], smells [ah, roof tar!] and debris [smoke, ash, fumes, etc.]. But fear not. There are many ways for a construction site to be managed that can decrease all of these effects on the surrounding area and its inhabitants and diminish the pollution created by the building process.

  1. Is there a chalky smell in your home or apartment after construction is finished? This is caused by dust buildup. This isn’t your average dust. It’s not dead skin or hair (eww!) but is rather , material shavings from materials like Sheetrock or ceramic tile. When ceramic tile is being cut for a bathroom, for example, the dust gets trapped in the ventilation. Or how about when you go through the final sanding process after mudding your drywall. First, trying to cover your furntiture, beds, countertops (anything you come into contat with on a daily basis) with a nice layer of Visqueen (that heavy duty plastic meant to keep your stuff safe. I also recommend buying a canister vacuum to get the dust out or suck it all in but then be sure to empty the canister in an outdoor area (not in the same place you just cleaned up).. Sometimes, you just have to let the vacuum remain in one place for 30 seconds in order to attract all the dust.
  2. How do you handle noise pollution? Just because workers are up bright and shiny at 7 am doesn’t mean that the neighbors are ready to face the day.  Loud equipment, delivery trucks and the ever-dreaded jackhammer create a most undesirable symphony that is simply diffiult to avoid.  But, there are ways to alleviate the problem. Creating a construction plan that allows for the loudest of jobs to be executed during the middle to the end of the day helps for sure and reminding staff that everyone does not appreciate the latest in salsa or R&B.
  3. The garbage accumulated on a construction site is made up of food, bottles, construction debris, and general packaging. Creating a recycling program helps to separate this debris. Garbage pickup on a site can be expensive, so by setting up a recycling program you don’t incur the costs of added containers and you help alleviate those back-to-back days of paella delivery. Some cities even pay you for your recycled bottles. Another way to alleviate the amount of garbage is to provide your workers with metal bottles, such as a Sigg (mysigg.com). These bottles are reusable, can be dropped from high heights without being damaged and save the environment.
  4. Some common construction smells also include gasses and fumes. These come from paints, treated woods, some metals, old  toilets, and even the construction equipment. The machines used on a construction site tend to run on gas which releases black clouds of smoke into the air. Many cities and states have made the use of machines that create these gas clouds illegal, so it is good practice to look into the more efficient and friendly alternatives. The fumes can also come from paints. High-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints tend to release noxious odors that damage brain cells and release harmful gasses into the environment. Low-VOC paint is the same price as the high-VOC paint, lasts just as long, and is just as durable, so why not make the switch?
  5. Another odor causing element of a construction site is standing water. Puddles and small pools can form during the excavation process (which releases unpleasant smells into the air ras well) and these pools, when left sitting for too long, begin to smell sulfurous. This is especially true is places like Miami which is situated right on top of its water table.  These puddles should be drained from time to time in order to avoid them becoming either a stink pool or a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes.

http://www.rez.org/2012/01/the-smell-of-a-construction-site/ http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/environment-and-recycling/pollution-noise-and-nuisance/ http://www.querrey.com/assets/attachments/15.pdf http://www.adbio.com/catalogs/BioWorld-Odor-Control-Catalog.pdf http://www.lhsfna.org/files/bpguide.pdf http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/swppp.cfm



Insulation – a key component for energy efficient green buildings.
August 15, 2011, 7:14 pm
Filed under: Air Quality, Building knowledge, Energy Efficiency

Insulation is one of the most important aspects to consider when looking at the energy performance and potential savings for your project. Especially on residential projects, the standard code required insulation is quite insufficient and leaves much room for improvement.

When thinking about improved energy improvement and especially the introduction of alternative or renewable energy, insulation is key as most of the energy is lost at the envelope of the building: the roof and the walls. If a building has an energy consumption of 100 units and produces 60 units with alternative energy, there are still 40 units to be paid each month.
Insulation, very high efficient appliances and HVAC as well energy star rated doors and windows can bring the unit use to 50. Not the same 60 units created actually pay back the owner… insulation is the key to make this equation work.

Beyond energy savings, choosing the right insulation may also contribute to better air quality. Even though most of the particles find their way into the air during construction, some insulation, such as batt insulation used for energy or sound barriers, can easily be released through simple repairs or even installation of picture nails and hooks.

There are so many options these days to look at insulation for the building. Bonded logic produces a series called Ultra Touch, which uses post-consumer blue jeans. Not just great insulation, but also bonus points for recycled content. Blow in cellulose insulation is formaldehyde and VOC free while diverting 300 tons of denim per month away form landfills. The R value can go up 30. Not a bad option (www.bondedlogic.com/ultratouch-cotton.htm).

Another fully sustainable alternative would be recycled wool, loose-fill insulation, such as the oregano shepherd line that provides up to r-4 per inch (www.oregonshepher.com).

There are more sustainable alternatives without going all the way to fully recycled or reclaimed materials. Formaldehyde free fiberglass comes in the traditionally familiar batt and roll variety with values from 11-38. Rigid foam panels also come in less toxic options, as does spray in insulation. Johns Manville and Owens Corning now offer environmental lines of product.

Personally I prefer a spray in system such as Icynene, Greenfiber or Certainteed. These systems use soy based or cellulose blows insulation that not just is easy t install and will literally fill the very last crack, but it also lets the access material be recycled on the spot, virtually eliminating any waste during construction.

It is important to seal all cracks, even if they are only a fraction of an inch. A small gap next to the insulation may appear minimal, but consider adding all those little cracks up to one large opening. This hole is typically about 3 square feet. Would you leave a 3 square feet hole in your wall? Probably not, so seal it. Knauf is a good option for these cracks as are other weatherization techniques.

When tackling your next project or upgrade, think of the insulation and realize quick savings in your energy bill. For further questions, contact your design professional. Sebastian Eilert Architecture. 786.556.3118 www.SebastianEilert.com



A primer on doors, windows and weatherproofing in South Florida

Doors and windows do more than just bring natural light into our homes. They offer a wonderful opportunity to clean out the inside air and enjoy the lovely weather, especially in times like these, when the South Florida winter actually allows for us to do so.

Often I hear in conversation when the temperatures drop that friends run home and open the windows to get a fresh breeze and escape the air conditioned air for a few days or weeks.

Door and windows indeed serve many purposes. There is the connection to the outside as noted with air and light, they provide security to keep unwanted intruders and critters out of the home and they do significantly affect the energy consumption of your space.

A good roof with ample insulation and other external finishes do come first, but the next line of defense are the doors and windows. These are typically the areas where we can control the amount of air moving between the inside and the outside. During hot summer month heat easily leaks through the crevasses and raises the overall amount of inside air to be cooled. Proper installation or weatherization is key to ensure that these much appreciated openings do not contribute to your energy bill. If you have new doors and windows installed, ensure that they are properly caulked and that there are not wholes on the edges. If the windows and doors are exiting go through the frames and caulk them where you have holes or consider weather-strips for the joints. These are very inexpensive fixes that will make a difference. Do not think so? Consider this: if you only have a few air leaks along the frame one could argue that is it minimal and more air goes out of the house just be opening the front door to exit the house. In itself this is a correct thought, HOWEVER. Consider the number of small openings that you have all around the house. Now take them all and merge them into one single opening. This whole will likely be 1 to 3 square feet. Would you like to leave a permanent 12” x 12” whole in your house? That is in essence what improper installation and weatherization does. So before the temperatures rise again, take a moment to check your doors and windows and seal them or get professional help, if preferred.

If thinking about replacing your old leaky windows and doors, this is a great move to help with your energy savings. Consider the basic option for windows (same applies for doors):

A Standard window will be well constructed and reduce significantly the amount of leakage over older ones. To comply with building code hurricane requirements, a standard window does require the installation of shutters.

An impact window is more expensive than a standard window but will eliminate the need for shutters, as it complies with the building code. Impact (high velocity impact) windows also have the added benefit of security as a simple brick or other tool will not break the glass to allow access into the house. Furthermore, impact windows do allow to maintain visual connection during the event of a hurricane.

An energy star window, typically a Low E gas filled window, focuses on reduced heat transmission. Energy star windows are also more expensive than standard windows but will significantly contribute to your energy savings. Consider energy windows especially if your glazing area faces south, southwest or west.

As an alternative to energy star windows tints may be installed over standard windows. I generally do not recommend tints as they are not part of the manufacturers assembly and therefore tend to peal and crack over time. Tints also have some aesthetic drawbacks as well as cleaning challenges. They are a great option for economical quick fixes.

Impact Energy Star windows are the most expensive option but do give you a great deal of benefits; from security to energy savings. They are always my recommended option, if the budget allows for it.

Finally, let’s look at the different styles of windows. Most windows are either wood, alumni or vinyl. There are also combinations of wood with metal cladding and other constellations. Wood windows are without a doubt the most appealing and impressive option, but do require some ongoing maintenance, especially in the South Florida climate. Most economical windows in this part of the country are aluminum windows with manufacturers like PGT (used in the Chamber South project) and CGI (local manufacturer) providing a good value. Aluminum windows easily comply with anchoring requirements are also very easy to install.

PGT Impact Window at Chamber South

 

Besides the material, there are a few options to consider for style. The two main options are:

Single hung windows are a basic slider, mostly up and down. About 40% of the window actually opens and about 80% has glazing. They are the most economical option and are operated completely manually by simply sliding half of the panel. Connections on single hung windows do tend to wear out and weatherization is important to maintain.

Casement windows are constructed by having the full glass area in a frame that sits in another frame which is attached to the building. The inner frame is hinged on one side and thus fully operational. Casement windows provide about 80% glazing and 85% opening. The weak point for these windows are the hinges to operate the inner frame. They provide an even better weather seal than single hung windows and are easily maintained.

Casement and fixed combination window

 

Other forms of windows are fixed, awning (these are multiple glazing frames that are operated on a hinge and open forward and out, very typical in older Florida homes) and bay windows (typically a combination of fixed and casement).

Ready to tackle your window upgrade? Miami Dade County does require a permit for window and door replacement. SEA is ready to help with your project. www.SebastianEilert.com

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Weatherization Package from SEA.

After going over so many possible options to improve the energy efficiency for your home I find it time to put together an official weatherization package.

 There are plenty of rebates currently available and even more are coming in the next few weeks and months. This is indeed a great time to look at energy improvements for your home and small business.  Not just will you be able to significantly improve your operating cost, but the Government will help you pay for it. The upcoming incentives are certainly a positive aspect of the recovery act that has found its way to the end consumer.

In other posts we already looked at LED’s, appliances and general saving, specifically relating to South Florida. Please look at the “Greening your South Florida Home, Part I, Part II and Part III.

 A concise Weatherization package should include at a minimum the analysis of the windows and doors, insulating in the walls and especially in the roof and attic. These simple primary starting points can lead to substantial savings in a very short time by controlling your building envelope. Energy savings do not end with the way you use your shell; it is only the beginning.

Consider additional energy and water savings with other improvements such as HVAC update and roof replacement. There are also rebates to update your water heater, dishwasher and refrigerator.

The homestar retrofit rebate package is the governments’ incentive under the Recovery act to provide partial funding for improvements for homeowner for reducing their energy bills. Regardless of this package, there are many sensible options to improve the use of energy in your home.

 More information about the Homestar pacakage can also be found here.

If you need additional help and like a project specific analysis, please contact me:

Sebastian Eilert, AIA, LEED AP

786.556.3118

Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com

www.SebastianEilert.com

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How to green your South Florida home – Part II

Here is the next installment in the “quick and dirty” rundown of simple quick tips to improve your home and make it a more green building; for your health, for your wallet and for your overall well being…

Part I will focus on small to no budget items (please see previous post of Part I)

Part II will look at medium expenses or items to look at if they break and need (NEED!) replacement

Part III will look at the big changes that will have a lasting impact on your life 9from a green building perspective, but who knows, maybe more…)

Part II. What really works:

Lighting. If you started with the light bulbs but want to do more or have limited opportunity for changing light bulbs, evaluate your entire lighting system. Install dimmers, replace old fixtures, preferable with LED’s. This is particularly effective for recessed lighting fixtures (such as the ones replaced in the Alcaraz-Arango kitchen). A pleasant side effect is that the heat effect from the lights will also be reduced, thus reducing the need to cool down the house/space i.e., use less Air Conditioning.

Air Conditioning. The general rule is to look at a unit when it is 10 years or older. Typically systems have advanced in efficiency and the payback to upgrade can be realized in 4-6 years. Look for the SEER value. This is the indicator of how efficient the unit is. Current code required a 13 SEER unit; a 16 or 17 SEER unit is considered high efficiency and 18+ SEER is very high efficiency. The later are a choice investment and should be evaluated for Life Cycle Cost and Return of Investment. (THIS OPTION WILL REQUIRE A PERMIT)

Remember to upkeep the correct filters and also clean the ducts, if you do not replace them.

Windows and Doors. After you have gone through your home and weatherized (sealed) the doors and windows they might still be too old and too leaky to properly seal the house. At this time consider upgrading your windows. Start with the single awning type glass windows and old school sliding doors. Also consider upgrading to impact glass and earn a possible deductible on your insurance policy. To go for top shelf, include low-E glazing and make your windows energy start type. The consumer label will lead you to the most energy efficient windows and doors and will maximize your bottom line savings.

Make sure you work with the right professionals and get quality installation to ensure excellent weatherization on your brand new items. (THIS OPTION WILL REQUIRE A PERMIT)

Landscaping and Irrigation. Look for some of the other posts for this topic. Under the mid level renovation, consider spending some money on a rain water collection system: Gutters and rain barrels. This will also help with erosion control around the edge of your roof line.

For specific help, contact Sebastian Eilert to get a custom plan to green your home.

Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com 786.556.3118

www.SebastianEilert.com

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How to green your South Florida home – Part I
November 29, 2009, 2:37 am
Filed under: Air Quality, Sustainable Living

I keep getting the same questions and feedback has been great for the posts on this site. Still people like to get the “quick and dirty” rundown. So here is my offering at the simple quick tips to improve your home and make it a more green building; for your health, for your wallet and for your overall well being…

Part I will focus on small to no budget items.

Part II will look at medium expenses or items to look at if they break and need (NEED!) replacement

Part III will look at the big changes that will have a lasting impact on your life 9from a green building perspective, but who knows, maybe more…)

Part I. What really works:

Light bulbs. Yes, you heard it everywhere, and indeed, it is true. Now do not run and replace all light bulbs. Instead update as the old ones burn out. If you can, convert to LED lighting fixtures. Some bulbs are already available to fit in the existing fixtures.

Digital, programmable thermostat. Switch it. Even if you have an old AC unit, invest the +/- $30 to get one that you can program and actually do it. There is no need for the AC to run all day at 74º and waste your hard earned money…and it also takes wear on your…

Filters. Keep an eye on them and change them about once a month. Not just will a dirt filter make your AC work harder and thus less efficient but the air quality will diminish quickly with dirty filters. See to get a washable one, or better two… so you can actually clean it well and wait for it to dry without runign the unit filter less.

Weatherization. Go through your home and look at the doors and windows. Self adhesive weatherization strips fit easily into the frame where needed. Consider interior doors as well. These neat little strips also help to prevent door slamming by giving a soft buffer to the frame and extending the life of your door. Look for large gaps around the frame and silicone it. If you can, get a XXX. The “Great Stuff” works, but has other side effects, such as ozone depleting potential and global warming gas issues.

Cleaning Supply. Switch from the toxic commercial options and go for simple non toxic cleaners. Glass, surfaces and tiles can all be cleaned with a vinegar base. Go back to the newspaper for deep cleaning of windows. Also switch out the Swifters and paper towels for a microfiber cloth. 500+ uses and no dust moving around. If you are not quite ready to make your own, go for the environmental options available at most grocery stores. Look for biodegradable. Detergent is the hardest to find/make. Stick to the environmentally conscious brands here.

Pest Management. Go for the powdered options over the spray. Look at your outside wall and clear any bridges for pests to get into the house, such as plant leaves, wooden sticks and branches and mulch directly at the outside wall.

Landscaping. Look for some of the other posts for this topic.

For specific help, contact Sebastian Eilert to get a custom plan to green your home.

Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com 786.556.3118

http://www.SebastianEilert.com

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Built Green with a Pink Ribbon: Build for the Cure Show Home Features Performance & Sustainability
October 22, 2009, 1:58 am
Filed under: Air Quality, Energy Efficiency, Materials
Built for the Cure

Built for the Cure

Overview: A Grand Home with Purpose This 5,700 square foot, Southern Traditional home was built by E.S. Johnson Builders and serves as a Build for the Cure show home to help raise funds and awareness for the Susan G. Komen Fund, the largest grassroots initiative for finding a cure for breast cancer.

The home is located minutes from downtown Charlotte in the Springfield Community of Ft. Mill, South Carolina. Surrounded by 2.2 acres of lush green golf course, open space, walking trails and parks, E.S. Johnson Builders turned to green building products that would help preserve this eco-conscious landscape.

 

The Challenge: Building Green while Building Awareness

Another major challenge was addressing potential airborne moisture problems. Many homes built with a vented attic in the Southeastern United States suffer from poor moisture management. The outside air is hot and carries humidity. When this air is allowed into the attic, it can migrate toward the ceilings of the air-conditioned rooms and create moisture-related problems such as mold. To quote Dr. Joe Lstiburek’s Top Ten List of Dumb Things to do in the South, before the airborne moisture even gets to the ceiling of these conditioned rooms “it will see those cold R-6 insulated ducts, fittings, etc. and drip all over.”

More efficient operation of the attic-located air conditioning equipment was also a top consideration. Vented attic spaces can result in excessive energy consumption and high energy bills due to inefficient operation of the HVAC system.

Finally, a crawlspace can be a difficult area to insulate. Typically very humid, it was important to seal the space above from the entry of this hot, humid air. Since up to 99% of moisture travels through the air, reducing airflow (convection) was a critical consideration. An all-in-one insulation and air barrier can help reduce the entry of moisture and other potential irritants that can originate from a crawlspace.

 

The Solution: High-performance & Eco-conscious

E.S. Johnson Builders selected ICYNENE LD-R-50™, a key component to sustainable building due to the product’s insulating and air-sealing capabilities. 

Icynene installed in  the following problem areas:

  • To protect the home from a major source of energy loss – air leakage, R-13 was installed in the exterior walls and rim joists.
  • To increase efficiency and minimize airborne moisture-related problems, R-21 was installed on the underside of the roof deck and walls of the attic, converting it into an unvented space.
  • For thermal performance and maximum indoor air quality, R-21 was installed in the floor of the living space above the garage.
  • To achieve superior performance in a crawlspace application, R-21 was installed on the underside of the floor above the crawlspace.

 

Energy Efficiency and Reduced Emissions

A comparison using REM/Design Residential Energy Analysis Software reveals that the Build for the Cure home costs 62% less to heat and 40% less to cool than if it had been insulated with an air-permeable insulation such as fiberglass. Fiberglass Home Icynene® Home Difference ($) Difference (%) Heating $1,759 $662 $1,098 62.4% Cooling $812 $485 $328 40.3% Using ICYNENE LD-R-50™ in place of air-permeable insulation has dramatically reduced this home’s carbon footprint. In fact, a 62% reduction in heating energy use translates to the equivalent percentage reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Similarly, by reducing cooling energy use by 40%, CO2 emissions are also reduced by the same amount. Therefore, the Icynene®-insulated Build for the Cure home is projected to produce 7,898.5 lbs. less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions during the heating season and 4,231 lbs. less during the cooling season.

 

ICYNENE LD-R-50™ brings to this project these added environmental benefits:

  • For every kilogram (2.2 lbs) of castor oil produced in place of petroleum-based polyol, there is a reduction of nearly 3.5 kilograms (7.7 lbs) of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere.
  • Castor oil is 100% naturally filtered, with no chemical additives required.
  • The production process of the castor oil has low energy dependence, consisting simply of de-husking and pressing. Harvesting can be done manually.
  • Castor crops are non-irrigated (relying only on natural rainfall), saving scarce water supplies. • Castor crops do not require treatment with pesticides or fungicides.
  • A cradle-to-gate study commissioned by the Department of Energy (DOE) reported that there are essentially zero net greenhouse gas emissions from the production of the castor oil.
  • ICYNENE LD-R-50™ exceeds the minimum renewable requirement for a bio-based material (testing in accordance with ASTM D 6866) and can contribute toward a building’s achievement of credits/points under various national green building standards, including LEED-H, LEED-NC, and the ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard.

 

Contact your local green building specialist to see how you can integrate products like Icynene into your next project.

Sebastian Eilert – www.SebastianEilert.com 786.556.3118 Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com

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Alcaraz – Arango kitchen & Florida room upgrade – Coral Gables

Pending but a few details, this project is complete and in working order… working well indeed. The project is a green renovation of the existing kitchen, breakfast area and family room into a contemporary masterpiece with a strong focus on sustainable features.

The project started off with German kitchen cabinets from Akzent-Miami, www.Akzent-Miami.com, lead by Christina Raidt. These cabinets are formaldehyde free MDF, glass and Melamin. A perfect non toxic base in a very stylish design. The layout took out the original very small, dark and enclosed kitchen to remove all walls and connect the three spaces into one large open space with the kitchens master, owner Eva Alcaraz-Arango, at its heart.

The stove was placed in the very center and provides the focus of the kitchen. Keeping in line with the correct kitchen use triangle, refrigerator, sink and stove are arranged in a function focused constellation. The new cabinets provide plenty of storage from both sides on the lower counter side and full height on the back wall. Here we also find durable high end appliances and a smart integration of small appliances into the design: a central storage unit with a overhead door to quickly hide the little gadgets when company is present. The low counter, containing recycled glass from Trend USA, www.TrendGroup-USA.com, held in white is easy to clean and provides a sleek foundation that ties the areas together. The low water use, energy efficient dish washer is tucked under the counter and blends in well. Over to the side is an even lover glass top that serves as the new breakfast area. More storage, in the form of a floating cabinet provides the focal point for this side of the space. A few accent lights from Artemide, www.artemide.us, give a hint of color and pick up the subtle tones from the cabinet glass. These lights illuminate the breakfast table and also provide accents along the wall and corridor that is connecting the east and west side. The remaining lights are LED recess for energy efficiency. All lights are installed on dimmers for lighting level control.

The Florida room features a custom build cabinet to house all toys, appliances, books and the bar. The design was inspired by the floor plan of the kitchen, to unconsciously connect the entrie space. Windward Associates , www.WindwardAssociates.net, provided the work. Another notable feature is the reclaimed wood floor that was salvaged from the original layout and installed along the corridor. The new slate floor is a worm, soft stone that in its dark color roots the project into place.

Final touches were provided with Sherwin Williams Harmony paint to ensure another non toxic component of this project. Overall the strong focus on usability, functionality and sustainability were all achieved in this wonderful new kitchen. Presto!

 

Design. Consult. Educate.

Sebastian Eilert Architecture, www.SebastianEilert.com

 

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Green cleaning for better air quality
September 28, 2009, 2:28 am
Filed under: Air Quality, Sustainable Living

I had received a number of comments about the green cleaning options and better ways to clean. So here is the next part in the green home cleaning section.

To start of, do not throw out all your old products and start with a clean slate. Pouring toxins down the drain or disposing them into the garbage will not help. Instead, finish the old products and replace them with good ones as you go along.

For your cleaning rags, consider upgrading to a Microfiber Cloth. They will completely remove dust and, when used alone or with just a little water, will not leave a chemical film or streaks. Polish and clean the surface in one action and pick up over 97% of the dust and other materials containing microbes, pollen and mold. Microfiber cloths can easily be washed and reused hundreds of time.

When choosing cleaners, you are looking for the following attributes: Non-toxic, phosphate free, free of dyes, chlorine or hypochlorite, bio degradable and has natural fragrances. Look for bulk packaging and packaging that is recycled.

To make your own cleaners, here are a few simple suggestions:

All purpose cleaner:

  • ½ teaspoon sodium carbonate (soda ash)
  • Dab of liquid soap (like sal suds)
  • 2 cups of water
  • Combine in spray bottle, shake until powder is dissolved.

Glass cleaner:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon liquid dish detergent

Furniture polish:

  • 1 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • Mix in bottle, shake well and apply small amount to cloth

Drain cleaner:

Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow with ½ cup of vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes (covered). Flush with boiling water.

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