Miami Green Homes

The South Florida kitchen

The kitchen is in many cases the main space of the house and there is great opportunity to create a true masterpiece. The kitchen offers a number of sustainable opportunities, probably more than any other room in the house.

To start lets separate outdoor and indoor kitchens. This post will focus more on indoor kitchens. Part II, will be posted at a later date.

Since energy use is one of the quickest ways to make decisions about starting a project and generally have the fastest payback and the most incentives, let’s start with this topic. There are of course the appliances used in the kitchen. Look for Energy Star appliances to start. If you want to go more high-end, carefully investigate that energy uses and benefits of your selected equipment. The choices are plenty.

New Open Kitchen

Stove: efficient cook tops are available but to really go green, go with gas. Many say that it not just saves energy but also cooks better. It certainly cooks faster in many instances. Consider a combination steam oven for your baking needs. These machines are a bit more versed and also use less energy than conventional ovens.

When using your oven, forfeit the pre heat time and also turn the oven off a few minutes before your dish is done. The heat will not escape at a noticeable rate until you open the door, saving you energy before and after…

Dishwasher: if you have a large household, the water savings justify using this neat machine rather than hand wash. The magic number is 3 or more people living in your household. There are many great models that will not just save you energy, but also save you water. My favorite brand is Miele.

Fixtures: get the low flow fixture for your kitchen that has a moveable multifunction head rather than 2 separate units for fixed and flexible use. Again, I recommend to look for the German manufacturers. There are many stunning designs that have a flow rate of 1.8 gallons or less. You can also save energy by not running your hot water to the kitchen, depending on the layout of the house. If it is a long run, consider just adding a small on demand unit to the kitchen sink.

Lighting: If you can’t stand the heat… exactly. Lighting can contribute substantially to the heat load in the kitchen. Here more than in any other room in the house, use cool lighting. The CCT – Correlated Color Temperature level indicated the “blue” appearance of LED lights. Typical car lights are about 4000. You may want to go with a 3500 in the kitchen; still bright but a bit warmer. 3000 is generally recommended for living and bedrooms, you can use the brighter light in the kitchen. LED lights are the preferred choice for me. More on LED lights here.

Hollywood Condo kitchen

Layout: remodeling your kitchen is a great way to improve some of the natural features your space has to offer as well as improve on the flow and use for this space. There is the general consideration of the “kitchen triangle”; the use of stove, sink and refrigerator. If you have space, I recommend the integration of a center island. This is where your designer really makes a difference, so call me to set up an appointment to upgrade YOUR kitchen.

Materials: a kitchen must be warm and user-friendly as well as easy to clean. Countertops, cabinetry and flooring are the main players for the kitchen. There a number of recycled content counters available, so leave the granite top behind; try some recycled glass, reclaimed wood or pressed recycled paper…

For the floor, choose large component tiles (24 x 24 or larger to minimize grout lines) or solid surfaces like polished concrete. Wood replacements are generally not recommended for the kitchen, as this is the space that is likely cleaned most frequent.

For the cabinets, go with FSC wood, or ensure that a composite board is Urea Formaldehyde free! Your carpenter can and should verify this information!

And finally to the best of South Florida: year round vegetation! This means that you can grow your on herbs and even some veggies year round, and it also means that composting is an easy must…

…more to come in future posts; including the South Florida Outdoor kitchen.

If you like to get started on your own kitchen renovation, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture today:



a bit about…recycling.
December 1, 2009, 4:14 am
Filed under: Sustainable Living, Waste | Tags:

One of the best green practices you can do in your home is waste reduction. This does not cost you a dime and will have a great impact on making your home and your life more sustainable. It is a fantastic step towards green building and sustainable living.

 To start, look at your containers. In South Florida you should have a single stream recycling bin (typically dark blue). This will take glass plastic, metal, paper, cans and bottles. What is single stream? Single stream is the opposite of multi stream and makes it easy for the end user to recycle. In essence, all your goods go into one container and will be sorted at the plant. The down turn of this method is that less of the actual material will be valuable in the recycling process as it was likely ruined by some of the other items it got in touch with. The benefit is that more people are doing it and more overall volume is recycled.

The alternative is multi stream collection. This is the way Germany and other countries are doing it and they place the “burden” of separating on the user. Typical items to separate are newspaper, plastic (such as yoghurt cups), glass (there is also a mount fee for most glass bottles in Germany), compostables and other waste. Collection of the varying items varies by day. This system works surprisingly well in Germany but has found some resistance in most parts of the US… one day we will change, too!

 So what can you do if you consider going beyond the single stream system or are left out of the system entirely for now? Do your own multi stream. To start, get a little kitchen compost and, if possible, a outdoor area to then compost. There are also simple balcony ready contraptions that work quite well for your compost. If you have more than 2 plants, you will most definitely be able to use the compost “in-house”.

Next, sort paper. If you are a heavy newspaper reading household, separate the newspaper and save it for cleaning or shred it to mix into your compost. Consider donating some of the higher quality magazines to schools and medical offices.

Glass containers can be reused in many ways. I like to use them to separate and store my nails and screws, but they are useful storage for so many items that tend to clutter our closets, pantries and basements.

 How about leaving potential rubbish at the store? Most of the non-compostable and non-recyclable waste we generate is packaging. Leave it with the vendor and make sure to bring your own bags. There is no excuse to use plastic bags anymore. All grocery stores, as well as many others, offer reusable bags for very affordable pricing. Once you have it, make sure you put it in a place where you will not forget it, such as your back seat (and by all means, express yourself with your favorite team logo, charitable organizations, business logo, etc…, the options are limitless).


…and one last word…about plastic bottles. Avoid them, same with bags. Recycling helps, but not using them will help transform the marketplace and save our planet. The damage done by wasted plastic bottles to the earth, the oceans and wildlife is getting out of control and accelerated many of the problems we are facing. Do your part to send a message to the manufacturers to stop making disposable plastic products.