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


GaiaMa – a LEED Platinum Vastu design by Sebastian Eilert Architecture

GaiaMa is a new single-story home of 1500 square feet located in the Miami Dade village of Biscayne Park. The design is inspired by Vastu principles and has strong focus on sustainability and durability. The house is built out of ICF walls and insuldeck roofing system, making it hyper-insulated.

GaiaMa – A Vastu based design by Sebastian Eilert Architecture. Located in Biscayne Park, Florida.

A central cupola features an inverted roof to optimize natural light into the center of the house and assist with rainwater catching. The windows are designed to be shaded from direct sunlight while allowing a breeze to come through when opened.

The Central Cuploa allows for natural light to illuminate the center of the house.

The LEED Platinum home has a HERS rating of -4. TH project features a full photovoltaic array with independent battery backups.

The home is designed as 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with an easily convertible 3rd bedroom by adding one wall and a door.

Cupola and photovoltaic array

The entire landscaping is a edible with a mix of low growth native vegetables, design herbal sections, and larger anchor trees. An underground cistern collects rainwater as well as grey water.

Overall water use has been reduced with the use of dual flush and low flow systems. Finishes include polished concrete, bamboo flooring, reclaimed wood, and recycled countertops.

Edible landscape design and rainwater pond

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 for 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).

Reclaimed wood furniture, bamboo and polished concrete flooring. Recycled material counters.

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



Moorgins Residence Renovation/Addition – Sebastian Eilert Architecture
Moorings front elevation

The Moorings Residence is a wonderful remodel of a 1960’s gem settled in the Moorings community within the neighborhood of Coconut Grove. The original single-story residence boasted with wood details and featured a structural roof made from 2x’s. Supported by only a few bearing walls, the house literally invites the outside in with removed floors and enclosed patios.

Storefront entrance with enlarged concert step and protective overhang.

The renovation focused on bringing more light into the spaces and on controlling the border between inside and out while connecting the building to its site. Clean and clearly defined lines as well as the Florida Modern architectural style were the guiding direction from the owner.

Architectural Floor Plan

S.E.A. incorporated many sustainable features, such as LED lighting, non-toxic cabinetry and finishes, a terrazzo floor, and updated energy efficiency for the entire building envelope (doors, windows, walls, and roof).

With a strong focus on durability, there is no drywall in this project. All interior walls are constructed with 4” masonry units and stucco finish, and the ceiling is finished with fiberglass board. The kitchen features a solid poured-in-place concrete counter and waterfall edge with stainless steel cabinetry and glass shelves.

Poured in place concrete counter and island. Stainless steel appliances and cabinets

Concrete counters were also utilized in the bathrooms. The master features a sunken shower as well as a soaking tub. All fixtures are dual flush water sense rated.

The house has improved energy coating in all glazing, a reflective exterior paint, and increased rigid insulation in the roof. Air conditioning equipment was selected with increased SEER to further improve the energy performance. The house is PV-ready with installed piping and mounting brackets for a future system.

Primary Suite recessed shower and concrete counter with stainless steel vanity

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 for 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

Outdoor shower and pool. Beveled window edge for natural light transition.


Small Spaces, Big Changes

One of the many ways we can reduce our impact on the environment is to minimize the amount of space we require for day-to-day living. Fewer belongings in less space need less energy to maintain. Though adopting smaller living spaces may pose some initial challenges, transitioning to a more minimalist lifestyle is less complicated than you might think.

Smaller Appliances, No Empty Spaces

You don’t have to sacrifice convenience or comfort, but successfully adapting to smaller-form living spaces may require a more strategic approach. Whether you’re moving into a tiny house or a smaller apartment or condominium, you’ll need to downsize your thinking to fit your new environment.

Smaller appliances, like compact, front-loading combination washer-dryers, smaller stoves with only two burners, and refrigerators designed for smaller living spaces can make the transition much more manageable.

Plan on making use of every available space for storage. Detergent and other laundry supplies can be kept in a washer-dryer unit between uses, and cookware can be stored inside an oven. Avoid storing items in a refrigerator or freezer, as it’s wasteful to spend energy cooling items that don’t require refrigeration.

Embrace Essentials

Tiny homes and other compact living spaces require a more thoughtful and informed approach to minimizing household items. Micro-living doesn’t leave room for unnecessary clutter or anything that doesn’t serve a useful purpose.

Eliminating extraneous household items is often easier than you might think, and the sense of liberation many people feel when streamlining their possessions can be its own reward. A more minimalist lifestyle requires less time and energy to maintain, and many who have made the move find that fewer things mean fewer worries.

Think Vertically

The amount of floorspace in micro-living and tiny home habitats is much more limited than in more conventional housing. Good use must be made of every bit of space on both the horizontal and the vertical.

Building up and not out means integrating design elements like recessed shelving and stacking containers to make the most of all available space. Use shelving along walls wherever it won’t impede movement. Store infrequently used items higher up and larger or heavier items on lower shelves where they’ll be easier to retrieve when needed.

Up and Out

Look for opportunities to stack items or make the most of unused vertical spaces above or below other surfaces or storage containers. An easy place to accomplish this is in bathrooms and closets. Excellent use can be made of storage caddies designed to hang from shower fixtures or inside doors.

Whenever possible, prioritize shelves and storage along exterior walls to keep precious interior spaces free. Storing items high up on exterior walls may require a footstool or stepladder to access, so bear this in mind. Look for collapsable or folding stepladders that can be stored when not needed.

Stacking isn’t just for stuff — you can stack yourself, too, by integrating a loft bed into your living space design. Even in single-level tiny houses or apartments, beds can often be placed directly above other spaces without sacrificing usability. Any under-bed space should always be used for storage.

Good Things in Small Packages

Though many people are motivated to adopt micro-living principles out of environmental concerns, there are numerous other personal benefits from a simpler, lower impact lifestyle. It’s more affordable for various reasons, leads to less waste, greater energy efficiency, and better use of precious (and expensive) urban real estate.

We must all do what we can to live more sustainably, but it doesn’t have to be unpleasant or require much sacrifice. Most of us can live much more simply and with fewer possessions than we realize. Smaller living spaces mean more efficient living, which translates directly into more free time — and more freedom.

If you’re ready to make a move into tiny housing or want to remodel your existing living space to be more sustainable, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture for expert advice in adopting micro-living principles into your life.



Eco-Friendly Home Spring Cleaning Tips 

Spring officially began on March 20, 2022, and the seasons are changing. The arrival of spring means it’s time for homeowners to do a spring cleaning. Spring cleaning can help declutter spaces and make them feel healthy and airy as we head into the warmest part of the year. If a homeowner cares about the environment and wants to ensure they live in a way that has minimal environmental impact, one step they can take this year is doing an eco-friendly spring cleaning process.

To learn more about what an eco-friendly spring cleaning process entails, read our guide below. These green spring cleaning tips will ensure that the cleaning process simply benefits a home and the loved ones who spend time there, with as little negative impact on the planet as possible.

Clean Blinds and Curtains

There’s no doubt South Florida homes get a lot of sunshine — so much so that many people choose to power their homes with solar energy. In the spring and summer, the sun can be so hot it can significantly heat up any home, causing the people who live there to use more energy from air conditioning. To stop this from happening, people may want to keep their blinds and curtains closed during the day. Make sure blinds are dusted and dirt-free for the spring, so when they’re pulled down they don’t let debris into the air. Take down curtains and give them a good wash. That way they won’t only be dust- and dirt-free when using them to block out the sun, they’ll also look fresh and wrinkle-free, too.

Scrub With Cloth Towels

Forget paper towels for this spring cleaning. When people clean surfaces in their bathrooms, kitchens, and beyond, they should avoid using paper towels to rinse and wipe off cleaning products or soap. Instead, South Florida residents can commit to using only reusable and washable cloth towels. 

Ditch the Chemicals

It may take some research based on a home’s complete cleaning needs, but people should ditch the chemical cleaners as they freshen up their space for springtime, and choose only natural cleaning products. Lemon juice can be a powerful cleaning agent for removing stains and rust, and baking soda also works to remove dirt, grime, and stains. White vinegar is a powerful agent for disinfecting surfaces, and essential oils can help sanitize spaces and make them smell fresh and invigorating. By not using harsh cleaning chemicals, homeowners can minimize damage to the environment as the chemicals spread in the air or get flushed down the drain.

Do You Want a Design Refresh For Spring? Call Sebastian Eilert Architecture

For South Florida residents who want to do more than just a spring cleaning to refresh their home this season, there’s always the option of redecorating or even renovating a space. Get in touch with Sebastian Eilert Architecture. Our company specializes in sustainable and ecologically responsible design, and Sebastian himself has been named one of the most influential sustainable designers in the world. Reach out today via phone or email for a consultation with Sebastian. We help homeowners have a space that feels clean, fresh, and good for the planet through every season. You can reach us at 786.556.3118.



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.



Four Tips for Eco-Friendly Bathroom Cleaning

Most of us look at cleaning as a chore—especially true for bathrooms, as tight corners, grout and our hot and humid South Florida climate make for challenging work. Mold and mildew love heat and humidity, so there’s always grime to get rid of. If you’re environmentally conscious, this becomes doubly unpleasant because so many cleaning products contain harsh chemicals like ammonia, chlorine and formaldehyde. It’s terrible for your mood, bad for your health and bad for the planet. So, what can you do about it?

Green Cleaning

With these four simple tips, you can make cleaning the bathroom eco-friendly, more manageable and quicker. These techniques won’t require any more elbow grease than you’re used to and shouldn’t require a trip to the store. It may be surprising how well you can clean with vinegar and water, but both are potent solvents in their own right—and when combined, they’re even better.

1. Shine Up

Here’s a great example of how powerful white vinegar and water can be together. Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix and get to work cleaning reflective surfaces like mirrors, countertops and faucets. Spray on the vinegar and water mix, wait a few minutes and wipe clean. A baking soda paste can be applied before spraying for especially grimy situations.

2. Shower Power

The same mixture as above can be used to clean glass shower doors, but there’s an even better method. Soapy residue or the minerals in hard water can make cleaning glass shower doors dingy and hazy—and challenging to clean unless you know this trick. Pour straight white vinegar into a spray bottle and heat it in the microwave for a minute or so. Immediately spray the heated vinegar on your shower door (or really, any glass surface). Let it stand for about fifteen minutes, then wipe it away with something non0abrasive, like a soft cotton rag.

3. Rub-a-Dub Tub

Baking soda makes another appearance here and the vinegar/water mix with baking soda works well when cleaning tubs—but may require a little extra effort. To avoid breaking a sweat, combine a couple of tablespoons of baking soda with liquid dish detergent or Castile soap and generously apply this mixture to the sides and bottom of your tub. It’s great for cleaning grout, too, because you can use a toothbrush to get in there. Please don’t use an abrasive scrubber for the tub, as it might scratch the surfaces.

4. Last But Not Least: The Dreaded Toilet

Here’s one chore that’s almost universally regarded with dread: cleaning the toilet. It’s no one’s favorite task, but it has to be done (and you can always wash up afterward). That 50/50 vinegar and water mix comes in handy again here, but for extra cleaning power, you can add lemon juice or any essential oils you might have on hand, such as tea tree or lavender. Spray the surfaces to be cleaned with the vinegar and water mixture, then apply the baking soda with a sponge or toilet brush. Let it sit for ten or fifteen minutes, then scrub it off with a brush.

Cleaner and Greener

You don’t need to rely on cleaners with harsh chemicals and getting them out of your routine (and out of your house!) is better not only for your health but also for the health of the planet. Solutions that are good for the environment are also good for us and when you can feel good about chores like cleaning the bathroom, they’re easier to get through.



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.



Solar-Powered Desalination Device Will Turn Sea Water Into Fresh Water For 400,000 People

A shipping-container hosting the world’s first zero-emissions, solar powered desalination technology is bringing clean water to rural Kenya.
— Read on www.goodnewsnetwork.org/solar-powered-desalination-plant-to-bring-clean-water-to-rural-coastal-kenya/