Miami Green Homes


Top Five Plants That Clean Indoor Air

Plants can do much more than help bring color and life to a home’s interior. They’re a great addition to any room, are more sustainable than cut flowers and offer us a way to bring nature indoors. Though there are plenty of aesthetic reasons to include plants in a home redesign, there are practical ones, too.

We usually assume our indoor air is clean, but harsh or dangerous chemicals can often contaminate it from cleaning products, mold and pollen and volatile organic gasses that leach out of indoor materials like flooring and upholstery. We spend around 90 percent of our time indoors and the concentrations of some pollutants can be as much as two to five times higher than levels found outdoors.

There’s good news, though—house plants are an affordable, effective way to clean your indoor air and act as a natural filter to many kinds of pollution. Having ample greenery indoors also helps you sleep better, helps your immune system be more robust and can even help your ability to concentrate. Here are the top five plants that can help clean your indoor air.

1. Philodendron

There are many different plants in this genus, including the trend-setting large-leafed monstera. These plants were shown to be one of the best at reducing air pollution and purifying indoor air. They’re especially effective at removing formaldehyde, which can accumulate as building materials and home furnishings outgas over time. Perfect for our South Florida climate, these can be kept outdoors as well, but keep children and pets from eating the leaves, though, as they can be toxic.

2. Snake Plant

This household succulent will help filter indoor air in surprisingly effective ways. It’s not only excellent at eliminating toxins like benzene and formaldehyde, it’s one of only a few plants capable of converting carbon dioxide into oxygen without direct sunlight. This makes it ideal for bedrooms or rooms with low natural light access.

3. Areca Palm

This small, cluster-forming palm is one of the most efficient air purifiers and a native of Madagascar, giving it an exotic appeal. It’s a natural air cooler and scrubs indoor air of dangerous chemicals like acetone, toluene and xylene, which can accumulate due to the use of nail polish, certain detergents, some wooden furniture and even cosmetic products.

4. Spider Plant

This little wonder is a beautiful addition to your indoor spaces and is extremely easy to grow. It’s surprisingly effective at removing ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and xylene, found in some cleaning products and furniture upholstery. One study found that it could remove as much as ninety percent of toxins found in indoor air in just two days.

5. Aloe Vera

Not only does this plant produce a naturally anti-bacterial gel inside its spiky leaves, but it also acts as an effective, natural air purifier. It’s excellent at removing toxic chemicals from indoor air, including benzene and formaldehyde, often present in cleaning products.

Breathe Easier With Sustainable Design

If you’re interested in other ways to make your indoor spaces greener, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to discuss design elements you can incorporate in new or existing buildings. Reachable by email or phone as well, Sebastian is recognized as one of the thirty most influential sustainable design architects in the world and is proud to be US Green Building Council accredited.

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Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Options

There are plenty of reasons to drive more fuel-efficient vehicles. Rising fuel prices are just one motive, as is a concern for the environment. Awareness of the damage that internal combustion engines and traditional power generation can cause is generally the inspiration most people have when adopting greener personal vehicles.

Zero Tailpipe Emissions

Most vehicles on the road today are internal combustion engine cars; this is one of the most significant sources of non-industrial pollution. Conventional vehicles produce pollution from tailpipe emissions and in the form of fuel evaporation. Electric vehicles (or EVs), which have zero tailpipe emissions, are among the best options available for individuals looking to reduce their environmental impact.

Long Range Choices

Recent studies have shown that 95% of all daily travel in the US could be made in electric cars. Most of us—roughly 85%—travel fewer than 100 miles on a typical day. Nearly all electric vehicles can travel more than 100 miles on a single charge, and newer models can travel well beyond 200 miles on a fully-charged battery.

Electric vehicles typically use one or more electric motors which draw power from large lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are super-sized versions of those found in smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Like their smaller cousins, they’re rechargeable.

Charging, From Home to Work

Electric vehicles draw most of their power from charging stations, both publically available ones and electric vehicle chargers installed in the home. Public charging stations are typically found in places like shopping malls, in the parking lots of many government buildings, and in locations close to public mass transportation, like train stations.

A growing number of workplaces are installing charging stations, as are many condominium and apartment buildings. Many universities are also providing facilities with electric vehicle chargers. The University of South Florida offers charging stations, and maps of recharging facilities are available online, like this ChargeHub page listing charging stations in and around Miami.

These chargers are commonly called EVSE, or Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. There are three types, with the fastest—Level 3—most widely used in larger public installations. Level 1 and Level 2 chargers are more commonly installed in homes.

Bringing it Home

Level 1 EVSE allows an EV driver to plug into a standard 120-volt socket. These types of chargers are entirely sufficient to meet the needs of most commuters, charging a typical battery from empty to full overnight, or in around twelve hours.

Level 2 EVSE relies on a dedicated 240-volt circuit, is more powerful, and can charge a typical EV battery in just under four hours. Level 2 chargers can be installed virtually anywhere and use the same power supply and wiring used for larger home appliances like washers or dryers.

Great Options for South Florida

There are around 28,000 electric vehicles in Florida, making Florida second in the US, just behind California. There are many publically available Level 2 and 3 EVSE locations, with almost 2000 charging stations in the greater Miami area alone. Florida EV drivers currently qualify to travel in the state’s HOV and Express Lanes for free, and state and local governments plan more incentives.

If you drive an electric vehicle or are thinking of purchasing one and would like to have EVSE installed in your home, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to discuss your options. Also available by email or phone to help with all of your architectural and interior design project needs, Mr. Eilert is proud of his commitment to the environment. He is recognized as one of the thirty most influential sustainable design architects in the world, is US Green Building Council accredited, and is proud to serve on the City of Miami Green Commission.



Conserving Water at Home: Things You Can Do To Save the Planet

Most of our planet—seventy-one percent—is water. This might seem more than enough to go around, but there might be less than you think. Wasting water takes a toll on the environment in surprising ways.

According to a study by researchers at the University of South Florida, it takes around 1.1 kilowatt-hours to treat and transport just 100 gallons of drinkable water. That’s enough energy to keep a 50-inch LED TV running for 62,500 hours or over seven years.

Florida residents use about 100 to 150 gallons of water a day, with around 24 percent being used in toilets, 20 percent for showers and 19 percent for running faucets in our bathrooms and kitchens. Half of all the water Floridians use each day goes directly into the ground—900 million gallons, all used to water lawns.

Saving water saves more than just the water, but also all that energy used to treat it. Here are four quick ways you can do your part to save water, save the energy it costs to treat it and bring it to your tap and save the planet.

1. Use Low-Flow Shower Heads

Showering can use up to two gallons of water each minute, making it easy to see how this is the third-largest consumer of water in Florida homes. Switching to low-flow showerheads is a great way to help, as it will cut your water consumption (and your monthly water bill!) by up to forty percent. You can do more by taking quick showers and turning the water off while you’re soaping up.

2. Turn Off the Water While Brushing Your Teeth

It’s surprising how many people do this and it is one of the easiest ways to save water. Wet your toothbrush before applying toothpaste, then turn it off while you brush. You don’t even need to rinse your mouth afterward, even though 62 percent of us do. Rinsing immediately after brushing washes away the fluoride in toothpaste that protects our teeth, which makes skipping this step good for you as well as good for the planet.

3. Always Fill Your Dishwasher Before Use

It’s better for the environment to use a dishwasher than to hand wash dishes, as hand washing as many dishes as will fit in a fully loaded dishwasher wastes as much as twenty-seven gallons of water a day. Using an Energy Star-rated dishwasher uses as little as three gallons for the same amount of dishes. Before loading them into your dishwasher, scrape food waste off of dishes (and consider using food scraps as compost) and only run it when it is full.

4. Water Lawns at Dawn or Dusk

If you must water your lawn, do it in the least wasteful way possible. Water evaporates quickly in hot, sunny conditions and Florida isn’t called the Sunshine State for nothing. Water your lawn once per day, when the sun is low in the sky. Watering just around sunset is better, as the water won’t evaporate as quickly as it would in the morning.

Help the Planet, Help Yourself

Freshwater is a precious resource and though more is being done to provide it, there’s still plenty of reason to do your part. Consider using other water-saving appliances, like energy-efficient dishwashers and toilets or bidets designed to use as little water as necessary.

Contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to discuss upgrades and redesigns that can beautify your home—and help keep our planet green. Also available by email or phone, Sebastian is recognized as one of the 30 most influential sustainable design architects in the world, is US Green Building Council accredited and would be happy to discuss ecological options with you.



Residential Toilets—A History And Options

The flush toilet is now ubiquitous in modern homes, and it’s hard to imagine anyone living without one. Though historical examples date back as far as the 26th century BCE, toilets as we know them weren’t invented until 1596. The first design was created for Queen Elizabeth I by her godson, Sir John Harrington, but she reportedly demurred from using it as it was too loud for her royal sensibilities.

Though the Romans were among the first to build underground sewers around 4500 BCE, there weren’t many improvements to the “hole in the ground” bathroom architecture for thousands of years. Toilet paper as we know it wasn’t even invented until 1857 (which makes for some uncomfortable musing).

Found in the Finest Castles

Though the common people wouldn’t have indoor toilets for many years, Medieval castles incorporated special rooms starting in about the 11th century CE. Built along outer walls and directly above castle moats, these toilet rooms would frequently cause unfortunate accidents resulting in wastewater accumulation.

The warning cry “Gardez l’eau!” (or “watch out for the water!”) could be heard all over Medieval Europe, and the special rooms where one did one’s business came to be called “l’eau,” which eventually became “the loo,” a term still in everyday use in the UK and former Commonwealth countries today.

The first public building in the US to have indoor plumbing was the Tremont Hotel in Boston. Its eight “water closets” were installed in 1829 by Isaiah Rogers, who would later become the Supervising Architect of the United States in 1863. Coincidence? Maybe he was just flush with luck.

Interior design incorporating toilets became increasingly common throughout the 1800s as people realized that improper sanitation could cause disease. Recommended by the medical experts of the day, flush toilets connected to underground sewer systems became a priority to legislators who began passing laws dictating their installation and use.

Inventors and engineers responded by designing “new and improved” variations, but indoor toilets were uncommon in all but the wealthiest homes until around 1840.

American Standard

As late as 1940, nearly half the houses in the US lacked an indoor flush toilet, and people still relied on the outhouse, which was little more than a rough wooden shed featuring a bench with a hole in the middle of it, built above a large pit. Thankfully, toilets are now standard in all homes, though there are many options.

The traditional round-bowl design has largely made way for more comfortable (and ADA-compliant) elongated fixtures. Both are available in economical floor-mounted or space-saving wall-hung designs. Recent innovations allow for the use of specialized fixtures and connections that bring benefits like cost savings, quieter operation, and minimized water consumption for planet-friendly bathroom visits.

Planet-Friendly Options

If you’re in Miami (or anywhere in South Florida) and you’d like to upgrade your “necessarium,” contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to plan the bathroom of your dreams 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 be happy to discuss ecological (and hygienic!) options like the Toto Washlet C5 or other bidets, available both as attachments or standalone fixtures.



Residential Insulation Options for South Florida

There’s a reason why an increasing number of people choose to call Florida home. The beautiful weather and gorgeous landscapes can’t be beaten. However, as with any warm climate, special considerations need to be taken to ensure that a house, whether new construction or an existing home, is as comfortable and cost-efficient as possible, all year-round.

The importance of residential insulation

It may seem like a house in a temperate area like Miami wouldn’t need much insulation, but the opposite is true. While houses in colder regions of the country require insulation to keep the heat in, homes in southern Florida must be insulated to hold the heat at bay and minimize the amount of work the A/C has to do. 

The history of insulation use

People have been using some form of insulation for millennia. From fur-covered hides stretched over wooden frames in prehistorical times to the advent of fiberglass insulation in the 1930s and modern blown-in foam, insulation has played a significant part in making homes more comfortable and hospitable. Luckily, there is no longer a need for hair-on hides, but the modern options are greater than ever.

The best types of insulation for South Florida homes

Choosing insulation that matches the architecture of a home is important. For instance, a house with a vaulted ceiling will require a different type of insulation that will work with the home’s interior design, as opposed to a single-level ranch where it will not be obvious. The most crucial factor is the R-value of insulation. R-value indicates how well insulation will perform in keeping heat from either entering or leaving your home. The higher the number, the more efficient it will be. 

Batt Insulation

Batt insulation is sold in rolls or strips. It is appropriate for walls, ceilings, and floors. It is made from fiberglass or rock wool and, while one of the older forms of insulation, it is still popular.

Blown-in Fiberglass or Cellulose Insulation

Both blown-in fiberglass and cellulose insulation gained popularity between the 1950s and 1990s. They are a particularly popular option for attics and walls. Cellulose has been shown to have a higher R-value than fiberglass. The downside to these insulations is that they can be messy if attics or other areas must be accessed regularly.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation has become a popular choice for many homes. It is easily applied (by qualified contractors) to walls and roofs and is shown to be watertight while having a high R-value. 

Rigid Insulation

Also known as foam board insulation, rigid insulation can be used in any part of the home. It can be cut to size and is easily removed if need be. It is advantageous in areas where blown-in or foam insulation may not be practical. 

 

Foil Insulation

Foil insulation is an excellent option in hot climates in that it reflects heat away from the foil surface. Its thin composition makes it ideal for pairing with other insulations, such as batt insulation. Therefore, installing the foil side facing out will keep heat from moving through the walls and roof into the living areas. 

Ready to start your own project? Contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture for your Architectural and Interior Design project needs.

http://www.SebastianEilert.com

Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com

786.556.3118



New Company Turns 100 Tons of Non-Recyclable Plastic Into Building Blocks For Construction

Turning hard to recycle plastics into building blocks for construction, ByFusion has diverted 100 tons of plastic from landfills.
— Read on www.goodnewsnetwork.org/byfusion-turns-100-tons-of-nonrecyclable-plastic-into-building-blocks/



Florida’s Place in Smart Design and Sustainable Architecture 

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 TallahasseeOrlando 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.



World’s First 3D-Printed House Made Of Local Raw Earth – And it Closes the Roof With a Dome

A Bologna-based architecture firm has used clay and 3D printers to create sustainable domed housing with little waste.
— Read on www.goodnewsnetwork.org/tecla-sustainable-3d-printed-houses-from-cucinella-architects/



Wallpaper is Back: Here are the Top 7 Ways to Style this Bold Interior Trend in your Space

Wallpaper has a surprisingly long and storied history in interior design. Its invention is credited to the Chinese less than 100 years after paper itself was invented. The style came to Europe via the Silk Road and saw changes in production and design as advances in block printing and other technologies allowed for more widespread use.

Since then, wallpaper has seen popularity in waves and although it has fallen out of favor at times, one thing is for sure – every time wallpaper comes back into fashion, it comes full force. Most recently, wall coverings, in general, had seen dwindling sales as an obsession with minimalism gripped interior design and architecture towards the latter half of the 20th century. Now, however, wallpaper is all the rage again and advances in the field mean that we can do more with wallpaper than ever before. That means that current trends in wall coverings are all about making bold choices.

Here are seven trends for 2022 that are bringing back wallpaper in a big way.

Go Wild

More than ever, people are ready to bring a bit of the outside in. Whether it’s grand tropical foliage or a jungle scene, this trend is anything but meek. For 2022, it’s about deep greens, light neutrals, and moody, muted tones and with a focus on natural materials.

Designers are taking it to the next level with patterns and vintage-style illustrations that transport us back to a wilder time. Expect to see birds, tigers, and elephants with or without their lush jungle backdrop.

Texture

In this most recent iteration of the wallpaper trend, we’ve seen a much greater variety of designs than ever before. Another factor driving the variety in this trend is texture. Whether it’s grasscloth, cork wallpaper, silk, or flock, the right tactile texture can elevate a design and bring a room to life.

Graphic Prints

One of the bolder trends for 2022, graphic prints are being used in a variety of ways and in some spaces that might seem surprising. A wide range of imagery is being seen in graphic print wallpaper but major themes to follow include people, nature, art deco style, and illustration.

Geometric Patterns

Geometric patterns have been rising in popularity in the past few years, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. They add a touch of luxury wherever they are used. This year geometric patterns are being paired with light and airy blues, grays, and shades of white. Geometric patterns are so universal that they can lend themselves to a wide variety of decorating styles and they are a great way to bring a space together.

Florals

Floral might be considered the quintessential wallpaper pattern, and while the florals we’re seeing for 2022 harken back to traditional Chintz patterns from India and later Europe, they are anything but dated. Today’s florals command the room with colorful, intricate designs on bold, rich, sometimes even velvety backgrounds. The effects can feel playful, exotic, or downright mysterious. Designers are sticking with small, detailed blooms to open up tight spaces and larger blooms for more airy locations.

Gold

Gold is having a moment – and with good reason. Touches of gold can bring light into any space, adding an element of glamour and luxury like nothing else. This trend will only grow and expand in 2022 with a trove of luscious textures to play with. Expect to see it used as a delicate accent or an all-out theme and everything in between with brush strokes and paint splatters in the spotlight.

Bonus: Unexpected Places

There is one trend that can be seen alongside all of the others that will continue to define the most recent comeback of wallpaper. In 2022, we’re seeing wallpaper in all kinds of unexpected places.

Traditional wisdom dictated that busy decor wasn’t meant for small spaces, but interior designers have thrown that rule out the window. Wallpaper is being used to bring some brightness, color, and structure to intimate vanity areas, cozy reading nooks, and even attic spaces.

Another typical decorating faux pas being broken this year is the wallpapered ceiling. In the spirit of playful rulebreaking, designers are opting for dramatic styles and daring color palettes over safer choices.

Summary

Designers are using wallpaper in ways they never have before. Technological advances in printing are allowing us to experiment with a wide variety of patterns and materials and that is resulting in some suitably bold styles for the long-awaited comeback of wallpaper.

In 2022, watch for jungle scenes and lush foliage, subtle textures, bold graphic prints, and elegantly understated geometric designs. Also on offer are a range of dramatic florals and decorating schemes that are practically dripping in gold.

There has never been a better time to update the look of your home.

Ready to start your project? Contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture for your Architectural and Interior Design project needs. 



Hundreds of Solar Farms Built Atop Closed Landfills Are Turning Brownfields into Green Fields

Turning brownfields into greenfields, energy firms are building solar power plants on top of closed-off landfills.
— Read on www.goodnewsnetwork.org/solar-energy-farms-built-on-landfills/