Sustainable “green” building and the integration of smart designs into architecture and homes have both gained momentum since the creation of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in the early 1990s.
Globally, there are more than 500,000 LEED-certified residential homes, including single-family, multifamily and affordable housing units. Out of these, 400,000 are located in the USA, showing the importance of the nation’s efforts to lead the world’s sustainable architecture with residential design and new builds.
In 2020 alone, over 24,000 residential units and 4,700 commercial projects were given LEED certification globally, with over 1,100 of those buildings being constructed in the USA. This trend of combining smart design into new builds and homes also continues to grow in Miami, Orlando, Tampa and throughout North, Central and South Florida.
The LEED Rating System
At its core, the LEED rating system encourages architects and builders to use sustainable building materials and smart designs in new builds that protect the environment while improving the lives of people who use these buildings.
LEED-certified homes and buildings might focus on micro-living, use less water and electricity, have a lower carbon footprint, be made from sustainable materials and be designed for better accessibility for people with disabilities. The overarching goal of LEED certification is to create spaces that support health and wellbeing.
Buildings awarded LEED certification are designed to:
- Reduce the amount of waste associated with the building.
- Lower the building’s overall costs.
- Conserve water and energy.
- Reduce harmful emissions.
The Top States for LEED-Certified Buildings
According to the USGBC (US Green Building Council), Florida has done well in supporting LEED construction projects all over the state, from North to South Florida. In 2018, Florida had the eighth-highest number of LEED-certified buildings based on square footage.
California took first place for that year with a total of 768,940,808 square feet, while Florida had 154,686,673 square feet. The following year, Florida fell off the LEED Top 10 list for square footage. However, by 2020, the state had stayed in the top 10 at number four for the total number of LEED credential holders, behind California, New York and Texas. These talented professionals of Florida include some of the best builders, designers and architects around.
Having a large pool of industry professionals in the state who are maintaining their LEED certifications gives hope for the future of sustainable architecture, residential design and green new builds in Florida. It also puts the right professionals within arm’s reach of any local Floridians considering new residential builds or micro-living and who want to combine smart design and sustainable architecture into future homes and residential designs.
LEED Projects in Florida
Even though Florida has fallen off the USGBC Top 10 list in recent years, there are still some inspiring projects and homes with smart design in mind that have been constructed recently. The cities of Tallahassee, Orlando and Tampa have each been awarded Gold LEED certification, as well as Miami Beach in South Florida in July 2021. This certification highlights each city’s focus on combining sustainability, resilience and inclusion into key aspects of city planning, housing, transportation and workforce development.
Two of the great residential projects in South Florida include:
• Live Oak House in St. Augustine
This residential design in St. Augustine received Platinum LEED certification in 2017 thanks to its energy-efficient smart design principles. The architect of this house designed it for improved airflow in a North/South direction to naturally combat hot temperatures, while making it out of locally-sourced materials. The architect of this residential property also included passive solar lighting and low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, adhesives and sealants. Live Oak House has since been awarded the Florida Water Star Gold certificate for its conservative water consumption.
• GaiaMa Residence in Biscayne Park, Miami, South Florida
The GaiaMa Residence is one of the creations of South Florida architect Sebastian Eilert. This residential building in Miami has been awarded LEED Platinum certification, the highest of all LEED ratings. This is thanks to the incorporation of micro-living with smart design, which maximizes space and energy efficiency. Its ICF (Insulating Concrete Walls) and insuldeck roofing provide enhanced insulation, resulting in a -4 HERS rating, which proves this home is four percent more efficient than a net-zero home.
The Benefits of Green Building and Sustainable Architecture
According to the Environment and Energy Study Institute (EESI), homes and other new builds account for around 40 percent of global energy-related CO2, highlighting the importance of integrating sustainable practices into the industry.
Keeping this fact in mind, the USGBC has outlined some of the core benefits of green building that don’t only focus on reducing carbon footprints. They include:
- Constructing buildings that are profitable, cost-effective and good for the economy on a local and national level.
- Prioritizing people’s health and wellbeing by improving indoor air and water quality and encouraging collaboration between residents and property owners to meet residents’ needs.
- Providing an environmental solution that reduces carbon, water and energy waste while producing less waste during construction and through the life of the building.
As the world moves into the future, Florida continues to make strides in sustainable architecture and design that shape how entire cities in the state are planned. As a member of the USGBC, Sebastian Eilert Architecture is one of the industry-leading companies bringing about this sustainable change to South Florida’s architecture and design industry.
To get one of South Florida’s most experienced sustainable architects working on your next project, click here to visit Eilert’s website and explore his previous projects in and around the Miami area and throughout the state.
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