Miami Green Homes


GNN – Winery is Amazing Green Building


Good News Network article: European Cities Are Turning Rooftops Into Community and Sustainability Hubs: ‘A revolution in urban planning’


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.



Buzz Off: Plants That Naturally Repel Insects

There’s a lot to love about living in South Florida—the weather is excellent year-round, it’s a culturally diverse place, restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world and there’s plenty to do and see. There are a few things that may be not so great—that excellent weather is occasionally interrupted by hurricanes, for instance.

While you can’t do much about those, another occasional South Florida menace can be dealt with easily and beautifully. Insects love our climate as much as we do—there are over 12,500 species here—and everything from flying insects like mosquitoes, bees and wasps to creepy crawlies like beetles, earwigs and mantids can make spending time outdoors less than pleasant. The following plants are all perfect for our climate and excel at repelling the kind of insects we commonly have to deal with here.

Citronella

This plant is so good at repelling insects that its oil is commonly used in candles to give mosquitoes the buzz off. It’s also an attractive planting, growing in tall clumps typically five to six feet in height. It makes an excellent ground cover but also grows well in pots, providing it has full sun and good drainage.

Pitcher Plant

This one doesn’t repel insects so much as do away with them. It has a lot of exotic appeal … at least for anyone who isn’t too squeamish. Pitcher plants are the product of millions of years of evolution and are pretty amazing. They not only attract insects with scents that are irresistible to the little pests, but when the inquisitive bugs come calling, they’re in for a nasty surprise. They fall into the bulbous base, where they’re dissolved and digested by the carnivorous plant.

Marigolds

Many people might already have a pot or two of marigolds already planted on a patio or balcony and may not even be aware that these plants are excellent at repelling mosquitos. If you don’t already have some of these, they’re a gorgeous addition to your outside environment and can even be kept indoors. You’ll want to position these by doors or any windows that you might leave open to keep the biting pests out of your environment—and off your skin.

Lemongrass

This is a fun one—not only is it a beautiful addition to outside landscaping, but it smells lovely and can even make an excellent addition to your spice cabinet. Lemongrass can be used not only in Asian cuisine but is excellent in soup, salads and is perfect with many kinds of fish. It also contains citronella oil, so it has the same insect repelling qualities.

Lavender

This bushy, beautiful plant smells so good that many people will trim it and hang it in bunches near the entry points of their home, so visitors are greeted by the lovely scent. It doesn’t just smell and look good—it repels insects. Everything from mosquitoes to fleas can’t stand the stuff and making sachets of the flowers and leaving them in bureau drawers or hung in closets will keep moths from eating holes in your favorite sweaters.

Living Well Outside

Planting any of these botanical wonders will not only beautify your surroundings but also keep them insect-free. Most of them smell lovely, as well—and what smells good to us smells horrible to many of the insects that can ruin an otherwise pleasant evening outside.



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.



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.



City Trees and Soil Are Sucking More Carbon Out of the Atmosphere Than We Thought


Bee Bricks That Help Thousands of Solitary Bees Are Now a Requirement for New Buildings in Brighton

The south-coast city of Brighton and Hove, in England, is mandating that new buildings be included with special bricks for nesting bees.
— Read on www.goodnewsnetwork.org/bee-and-swift-bricks-mandated-in-brighton-and-hove-england/



A New Neighborhood is Being Built in Utah That Looks Like a European ‘One-Car Town’

The 15-minute concept city hopes people will keep “one car” as green paths connect all areas of the city in just a short walk or bike ride.
— Read on www.goodnewsnetwork.org/utahs-15-minute-planned-community-to-be-a-one-car-city-of-greenery/



Wind Turbines Are Using Cameras and AI to See Birds –And Shut Down When They Approach

IdentiFlight, AI-based cameras, can recognize eagles and hawks as they approach in enough time to pause turbines in their flight path.
— Read on www.goodnewsnetwork.org/wind-turbines-use-cameras-and-ai-to-save-birds/