Miami Green Homes


Pinecrest Gardens – Lower Garden Bathrooms design by S.E.A.

Pinecrest Garden – Lower Garden

The Village of Pinecrest asked Sebastian Eilert Architecture to provide a design for a new bathroom structure adjacent to the historic original entrance to the park. The free standing building had to blend into the existing park design and feature sustainable building practices, especially focusing on water conservation.

Lower Garden restrooms

The building was designed with exposed beams and rafters and a keystone façade to match the adjacent historic structure. To focus on water savings, the original design featured composting toilets and a system of two natural, planted tanks to filter the effluent residual water from the lavatories and compost excess.

Greywater filtration ponds design.

Unfortunately, HRS did not approve the system and it was changed to a standard septic system. Fixtures were revised to very high efficiency and a waterless urinal. Excellent cross ventilation, LED lighting and non-VOC paint complete the sustainable design. 

LED lighting and non-VOC paint and flooring

Sebastian Eilert Architecture is a sustainable architecture and Interior Design firm with its main office in Miami, Florida.  The boutique firm specializes in the quality design and delivery of custom new residential homes and light hospitality projects. Sebastian Eilert Architecture has significant experience in the design of Miami-Dade County criteria compliance, design for aging in place, durable and minimal maintenance design, as well as waterfront and off-grid projects.

Project highlights include the first USGBC LEED certified project for Miami Dade County, the Lower Garden Building in Pinecrest Gardens for the Village of Pinecrest, a durable focused residence in the Moorings neighborhood in Coconut Grove (no drywall or wood used in the project), a Contemporary style Coral Gables waterfront home with an original canal access boat house, and a major renovation and addition of a 1912 Coconut Grove Mansion (received a Sustainable Design Award from DHT).

German born principal, Sebastian Eilert AIA, LEED AP+ has been awarded, among others, the Historic Preservation, Sustainable Design Architect of the Year, and Young Architect of the Year award from the AIA Miami and honorary Emerging Green Builder from the University of Miami. Mr. Eilert was adjunct professor at the University of Miami and a frequent team member of the AIA National SDAT program.

Precision, quality, and dedication to timely completion distinguish Sebastian Eilert Architecture from its competitors… the German Way. Find more projects, and contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to start your own project, on http://www.SebastianEilert.com

SONY DSC
Advertisement


Eco-Friendly Renovation Options

Renovating a home provides an excellent opportunity to adopt eco-friendly design principles. Making sustainable choices is not only the right thing to do, it’s surprisingly easy and affordable. Reducing a home’s environmental impact has several other benefits for the homeowner.

Greener homes are more energy-efficient, resulting in significant savings in heating or cooling — but this is just one such benefit. Almost every item on this list is beneficial in more than one way. Options that are good for the environment are often also good for the people in it.

Here is a brief list of some excellent renovation options that provide lasting benefits to both the homeowner and our shared planet.

Go Solar

Solar power is an obvious option for homes here in the Sunshine State. Solar panels are now more effective, efficient, and affordable than ever before. From larger professional installations to smaller DIY panels that can be installed with a bit of assistance from an electrician in a matter of hours, there are many available options and packages to choose from.

Breathe Easier

When choosing renovation material, it is best to always opt for nontoxic options whenever possible. Sourcing for things like flooring, upholstery, and cabinetry free of dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde or benzene has gotten significantly more accessible in the past few years.

Even though many of these chemicals appear in many household products, they commonly have much higher concentrations in building or renovation materials. In some cases, they can continue to pollute indoor air by outgassing for decades.

Likewise, paint that has low or no volatile organic compound components is a much healthier and increasingly accessible choice. Conventional paint, which is high in VOCs, can cause headaches, throat and sinus irritation, and has even been linked to some cancers. Avoiding these chemicals is not only the best choice for the environment, it is the healthiest option for the homeowner.

Energy Efficient Appliances

Replacing older appliances with newer, more energy-efficient models is an easy way to reduce a home’s carbon footprint while also providing convenience and energy savings to the people who live there. Newer designs use energy more effectively and are typically manufactured with greener materials and techniques.

Even replacing a single air conditioner, refrigerator, or dishwasher can provide significant environmental benefits and also save considerable amounts of money in the long run.

Use Recycled Materials

Using materials that have been salvaged from existing construction is an excellent way to reduce a renovation project’s impact on the environment. There are many different options, from recycled wood flooring to recycled glass windows and beyond. These materials are intrinsically green because they prevent the need for new product manufacture — and prevent the recycled materials from ending up in a landfill.

Choose a Low-Flow Toilet

Low-flow toilets are a great way to contribute to protecting the environment. They are affordable, available in a range of models with various features, and can be installed quickly and with little effort. They provide significant water savings and prevent energy consumption that would ordinarily go toward treating excess wastewater.

To discuss eco-friendly options available to you and get expert advice on your next renovation project, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to discuss your project needs. Mr. Eilert is dedicated to sustainable, eco-friendly design and construction methods and would love to discuss the many green options available to you.



Greener Kitchens

The kitchen is, in many ways, the heart of the home, and it’s a fantastic place to make environmentally-friendly changes. Much of the energy consumed in the home is used in the kitchen, and positive changes there can bring significant benefits. It’s more than just environmentally friendly — it’s fiscally friendly as well, and even small changes can add up to considerable savings over time.

Eco-Friendly Cooking

Increasing the energy efficiency of kitchen appliances is one of the best things you can do to reduce a home’s carbon footprint. Of course, the best options are newer, energy-efficient appliances, but there are various other ways to conserve that are nearly as effective.

When possible, choose smaller model appliances that require less energy. A two-burner stove uses significantly less energy than a conventional four-burner cooktop, and smaller refrigerators can be excellent choices for energy conservation if the capacity of a larger model isn’t necessary.

Small Efforts, Big Impacts

If relying on older appliances is a necessity, simply unplugging them when not in use can prevent a significant amount of energy from being needlessly consumed. Use a microwave for smaller meals or for reheating food — it uses less energy than a gas stove to do nearly the same job. Avoid heating a larger than necessary amount of water, and always cover pots so they will heat more quickly.

When storing food, always let it cool before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer. Freezers work best when full, and refrigerators work best when there’s sufficient room for air to circulate, so try to store food accordingly. Avoid leaving refrigerator and freezer doors open for longer than necessary, and make sure to defrost regularly and check to ensure food is kept at the proper temperature.

Food stored at warmer temperatures will spoil faster, but food stored at temperatures colder than necessary can waste a considerable amount of energy. Refer to your appliance manual for the proper temperature ranges and control settings.

Cleaner and Greener

There are many opportunities for more environmentally conscious behaviors when we’re cleaning the kitchen as well. Using washable, reusable cloth dishtowels and napkins is more sustainable than paper products. Similarly, avoid using plastic cups or utensils whenever possible, as non-disposable alternatives are always more environmentally responsible.

Use glass or metal storage containers when possible, as they can be washed and reused, preventing plastic from entering the waste management cycle. Remember the three Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle — and always try to get more than one use out of packaging or containers before recycling.

Only run dishwashers when they are full, and if possible, run them at off-peak hours. It’s worth noting that rinsing plates before putting them in the dishwasher is seldom necessary and should be avoided. Likewise, spending more on higher-quality detergent can be a more sustainable option, as cold water can be used instead of hot.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Design Expertise

To discuss eco-friendly kitchen design options available to you and to get expert renovation and remodeling advice on your next renovation project, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to discuss your project needs. Mr. Eilert is dedicated to sustainable, eco-friendly design and construction methods and would love to discuss green options with you.



Eco-Friendly Housing Design Principles

There are many different ways to increase the environmental responsibility of our housing and minimize the negative impact that new home construction can have. Whether reducing scale and minimizing possessions by adopting micro-living ideals or replacing appliances, thermostats, and lighting with smart, energy-efficient alternatives, we can each find some small way to make a meaningful contribution.

Here are a few of the most popular green, eco-friendly home design ideas that have gained popularity recently.

Passive House Design

The concept of a highly efficient home that minimizes unnecessary energy use through improved insulation materials and methods isn’t a new one, but it has gained traction and increased exposure in recent years.

The principles or standards that go into Passive House design are intended to optimize energy efficiency by incorporating elements like highly effective wall insulation, limiting heat transfer with superior materials, and heat recovery through specially designed devices built into the heating and cooling system.

The exterior walls of the home and the windows and doors must be made of high-quality material and constructed with exacting standards to ensure optimal energy use and conservation. Passive House design even extends to the physical orientation of the house. Windows which are correctly aligned to make the best use of available sunlight are central to some Passive House designs, and similarly thoughtful design elements make this one of the most popular eco-friendly design philosophies in housing.

Use Natural, Renewable Materials

Many more environmentally friendly building materials are commercially available now than they have been in the past. Sustainably sourced wood and plant products such as bamboo flooring are excellent alternatives to conventional materials. They cost less to produce, require less energy in production, and are free of any harmful or toxic chemicals that may have otherwise been needed for processing.

There are high-quality insulation options made from recycled materials and many natural options for flooring, wall coverings, window treatments, and interior and exterior wall paint. These green alternatives have the additional benefit of being free from toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds.

These chemicals present in conventional building materials in significant concentrations can contaminate living spaces for decades and cause serious health complications. These sustainable options are not only better for our environment, but they are also better for us and everyone we share it with.

Less is More

The Tiny House movement started as a design response to issues raised by worsening climate change conditions. Smaller houses require fewer construction materials and are designed to optimize energy use and incorporate renewable alternative energy sources.

These houses require much less energy to heat and cool and are easier to insulate more effectively than larger homes. Though Tiny House living may not be for everyone, many of the principles can be adapted for more conventional living spaces and inspire people to be more thoughtful about the way they use energy, especially at home.

Putting Principle Into Practice

If you would like to explore tiny house or other sustainable design options, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to discuss ways you can reduce your environmental impact. Mr. Eilert is proud of his commitment to sustainable housing and would love to be able to help you meet your conservation goals.



GNN – Winery is Amazing Green Building


Which Renovations Add Value to a Home?

There are many different reasons to remodel or renovate a home, but most typically, people will consider a remodel if they plan to sell in the near future. Some remodeling projects can dramatically increase a home’s market value — but not all.

Carefully considering which renovations to make before putting a home up for sale can help avoid expensive and time-consuming projects that won’t ultimately provide a return on the investment put into them.

Some home improvement or design projects can increase the amount a home will sell for, while others will likely leave prospective buyers unimpressed. It’s good to know which is which — here are the best renovations to make to a home before putting it on the market.

The Heart of the Home

Even people who aren’t enthusiastic cooks spend a great deal of time in the kitchen of their homes. It’s one of the most significant factors potential buyers base decisions on and one of the rooms they will typically look at first. A small, worn kitchen with outdated and inefficient appliances will likely turn buyers off.

Something as simple as newly painted kitchen cabinets and trim can help, but few things increase a home’s market value and buyer appeal like new, energy-efficient appliances. New granite countertops are lovely, but saving money month after month and minimizing environmental impact in the process will likely appeal to many more homebuyers than just cosmetic improvements.

Go Green

Increasing the overall energy efficiency of a home can start with the major appliances, but it doesn’t have to end there.

Replacing or increasing the amount of insulation in a home and installing new windows with a low U factor (which indicates how well they insulate) are excellent investments. Other options like installing solar panels or adding features like smart lighting or a smart thermostat are other excellent ways to add considerable value to a home being put up for sale.

New energy-efficient heat pumps, water heaters, washing machines and dryers, and other large appliances that provide significant energy savings will increase the amount a seller can expect from a home. The initial investment will pay off both in terms of immediate gains and environmental impact over time.

Update the Bathroom

Most of us start and end each day in the bathroom, and a bathroom that feels outdated can make a house feel vaguely rundown and lackluster. Luckily, the bathroom is a great place to make renovations before selling a home. They’re generally some of the smallest rooms in a home and are more affordable to remodel or renovate.

Small cosmetic improvements like new faucets, upgraded tiling, or new window treatments are all excellent options. More considerable value can be added to a house by upgrading the bathroom appliances to be more eco-friendly (and economical). Low-flow showerheads and toilets save money over the long term and are excellent for the environment, as they reduce the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated.

Expert Advice

Whatever your reasons for wanting to renovate, bigger projects call for professional expertise. If you live in Miami or South Florida and are thinking of making a significant renovation, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture today to discuss your immediate needs and how he can help.



Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Interior Design

There are many opportunities to limit our impact on our natural environment. From choosing green, renewable energy sources, driving electric or hybrid cars, or making environmentally friendly choices in how we choose to design our living spaces, we can each make some small positive impact each day.

A Breath of Fresh Air

The air we breathe is often more polluted in our homes and workspaces than outside. This pollution comes from traditional construction or design materials and is released as out-gassing chemicals from flooring, upholstery, or paint. Choosing a Zero VOC paint can be an excellent way to eliminate one source of indoor toxins.

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, harmful, highly solvent chemicals that linger as invisible air pollution. VOCs can cause significant illnesses, including headaches, sore throats, and shortness of breath, and they have even been linked to some cancers.

Zero VOC paint is free of synthetic and petroleum-based chemicals and many other harmful toxins like ammonia, benzene, and formaldehyde. Choosing a Zero VOC paint helps eliminate these toxins and chemicals from the air we breathe inside our homes and removes the threat of more extensive environmental contamination by these same chemicals.

Another excellent way to ensure better air quality in indoor spaces is to include a wide variety of houseplants. Not only will they remove CO2 and produce oxygen, but they can even clean dangerous chemicals from the air.

Natural Light, Cooling Shade

Paying particular attention to window treatments and blinds during a redesign or renovation can go a long way toward increasing how eco-friendly a home can be. Using room-darkening shades, shutters, or light-blocking curtains can drastically reduce cooling bills in a hot climate such as the one we have here in South Florida.

This helps cut down on the use of air conditioning, and on cool evenings windows can be opened to increase airflow and lower interior temperatures. On cooler days, using as much indirect natural light as possible from windows that aren’t directly exposed to the sun can lower the amount of energy used to illuminate interior spaces.

Natural Materials

Using natural, solid wood is always preferable to using particleboard or MDF, which contains synthetic resins and other binders which can be harmful. Furniture or trim made from solid hardwoods like oak or walnut is better for your environment, more attractive, and lasts longer.

Things like rattan, wicker, or bamboo are excellent choices for lighter-weight furniture and have enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years. These materials are breathable, easily cleaned, and completely free of harsh chemicals.

Bigger Projects, Bigger Opportunities

If you live in Miami or South Florida and you’re ready to tackle a bigger redesign project or are interested in a new home and want to incorporate sustainable, eco-friendly principles, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture today.

Also available by email or phone, Sebastian is recognized as one of the thirty most influential sustainable design architects in the world, is US Green Building Council accredited, and would love to discuss your needs with you.



Benefits of Sustainable Design

Increasing awareness of climate change and the impact man has had on the environment has led to new perspectives and movements in architecture and design. Sustainability, once little more than a marketing buzzword, is now an essential factor in the design and construction of new homes as well as in retrofits or renovations.

Changing the way we build, repair, and improve our living spaces can have a significant positive effect on the environment. By using more natural, local, and eco-friendly building components, architects can design homes that are not reliant on traditional construction materials and techniques.

Sustainable Opportunities in Design and Construction

Traditional construction uses significant amounts of newly mined, milled, and processed raw materials like stone, lumber, and metals. These conventional materials require the consumption of more energy to produce and are typically transported long distances.

This results in massive amounts of direct CO2 emissions — 15% of the world’s total. Even more concerning is the direct energy consumption of the construction industry, which amounts to one-third of all energy produced in a given year.

By adopting more eco-friendly design principles, we can build new homes and renovate existing construction in ways that aren’t harmful to our environment. Reducing the energy required to produce and transport building materials provides significant opportunities for sustainable and responsible construction and renovation.

Sustainable Design and Construction

Reducing CO2 emissions is a worthy goal, but it’s not the only benefit of adopting sustainable design principles. Incorporating green, renewable energy sources like solar, which is an excellent option in South Florida, into design considerations provides environmental benefits that will last the life of the home.

Efforts like using sustainable and renewable building materials and maximizing energy efficiency through the application of Passive House principles are essential for increased sustainability. In a place like South Florida, the energy used to cool a home can account for as much as a third of the total energy used by a home in an average year. This can be significantly reduced through increased insulation, thermal barriers, and other Passive design principles.

Even more significant benefits can be had from looking beyond the home itself. Truly eco-friendly design incorporates environmental considerations such as protecting existing wildlife habitats during new construction, replanting and replenishing greenery, and ensuring any construction waste is prevented from contaminating the environment and disposed of responsibly.

Eco-Friendly Means Human Friendly

Sustainable and renewable building materials tend to have some things in common. They are typically of natural origin instead of synthetic manufacture and ideally locally sourced. Natural materials are non-toxic and free of harmful chemicals found in many conventional construction supplies.

Using these natural, renewable resources also reduces or eliminates waste associated with the production of traditional building materials. Much of the production waste involved in such production contains dangerous chemicals that can cause significant environmental harm if released.

We sometimes forget that human beings are part of the natural world, and the same toxic chemicals that can harm the environment can harm us. Eco-friendly buildings are as good for the people who live and work in them as they are for the planet.

People who live in homes constructed with green, sustainable principles typically report better overall health and wellness. This is doubtless because of the absence of harmful chemicals, but studies have shown that being around natural materials increases feelings of well-being and happiness, as well.

Contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to learn more about how you can incorporate eco-friendly design principles in your next project.



Benefits of Having a Patio at a South Florida Home

Most South Florida homes have some outdoor space to spend time in, since the weather is nice so much of the year here. But there’s one type of outdoor space that every South Florida homeowner should consider having (or adding) at their house: a patio. Patios give homeowners the opportunity to enjoy the space around their home, but there are several other benefits homeowners can enjoy from having a patio. Here are some of the most important advantages to consider for anyone thinking about adding a patio to their house.

It Boosts the Value

Homes with usable outdoor space like a patio are more valuable than those whose outdoor space is not usable. Add a patio to a home to sell it at a higher price. Sellers will be able to get more for the sale, and it may even sell faster because it has such a desirable amenity.

It Provides a Safe Place to Gather

During COVID-19 many people were not able to gather safely with friends because it was not safe to spend time together inside. For homeowners with a patio, they have a private place to socialize that is also virus-safe. 

It Extends a Living Space

Since the weather is so nice in South Florida, patios are usable nearly year-round. Any family who wants more living space without having to do construction at their home (or move) can build a patio that extends the room it’s connected to. For example, building a patio off of a kitchen naturally provides extended space for dining, and families don’t have to knock down any walls or do extensive renovations for this additional dining room.

It Gives Kids a Safe Place to Play

For houses that don’t have a ton of private outdoor space at their home, their kids might not be able to play outside without heading to a park or playground. Adding a patio to a home gives them a designated spot to enjoy the outdoors, and they don’t have to worry about their safety if they are enclosed in a fenced yard or on the privacy of their own property.

Sebastian Eilert Can Help Transform Your Home’s Outdoor Space

Adding a patio to a house comes with a myriad of benefits. For anyone who wants help designing that patio and making it a reality — or completing other changes to transform an outdoor space — Sebastian Eilert Architecture can help. We are committed to sustainable and ecologically responsible design, and we can help homeowners create usable outdoor space that’s eco-friendly, environmentally conscious, and facilitates the enjoyment of the beauty of the world. Reach out to us today, and we can discuss changes a client wants to make at their home and how we can help. You can reach Sebastian via phone at 786.556.3118, or send him an email at Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com. We can’t wait to discuss how we can help create the living space any client has imagined.



Passive House Design Principles for New or Existing Homes

Passive House Design began in the 1970s as a response to the energy crisis and increased awareness of climate change. Based on incorporating principles intended to reduce energy needs for heating and cooling, this type of construction can be found all over the world and can be applied to anything from single-family homes to larger buildings. Here are some of the more accessible principles to incorporate.

Continuous, High-Quality Insulation

Perhaps the easiest passive house principle to include in existing structures, the concepts behind continuous and high-quality insulation are chiefly concerned with keeping heat or cooling inside the home and providing an energy barrier between external sources of energy transfer. The effectiveness of insulation is rated by its R-Value—the higher, the better.

When using cavity insulation, the framing material can still transmit energy through a process called thermal bridging. Thermal bridging detracts from energy efficiency and is especially problematic when metal framing is used. Continuous insulation, the more efficient system, can counteract this effect. It refers to a single continuous layer of insulation wrapping an entire structure.

Airtight Construction

While insulation helps guard against losing the energy needed to heat or cool interior spaces, it can’t do its job if the structure it’s installed in is leaking air. Airtight construction ensures direct air transfer, minimizing the amount of heating or cooling needed. Every home has necessary design elements like drains and vents that penetrate roofing or exterior walls and windows and doors must be fitted with adequate sealing (like gaskets or caulk) to avoid unintended energy loss.

Solar Heating and Shading

An ancient design principle, examples can be found in early architecture all over the world. Capturing the sun’s light for heating or blocking it to provide cooler interiors can be as easy as installing larger windows in an appropriate location or planting a tree outdoors to shield parts of a house from direct sun. Deciduous trees work well for this, as they’ll block the sun’s light in the hot summer months, but after losing leaves in late autumn, they will allow it through in the winter months.

Energy Recovery

An airtight house requires ventilation to bring in fresh air and vent CO2, moisture and built-up pollutants. This venting means air exchange, representing energy losses in heating or cooling air taken into a structure. A heat recovering ventilator continuously replaces stale air with fresh air without mixing the air streams, resulting in significant energy retention, sometimes as high as seventy-five percent.

Have a Passive House Project in Mind?

If you’re thinking of remodeling or redesigning an existing structure to incorporate passive house principles or would like to pursue a new construction project, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture for assistance. Committed to sustainable and ecologically responsible design, Sebastian is recognized as one of the thirty most influential sustainable design architects in the world, he is also available for consultation via email or phone.