Miami Green Homes


Sebastian Eilert, AUA featured on Aia Miami

Featured on the AIA Miami Instagram account. @aiamiami

It has been a privilege to be a member of the community for over 20 years and contribute to its improvement, especially it’s sustainable advancement.

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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.



How to Improve Home Office Decor

The world just lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, and many workplaces across South Florida and the rest of the U.S. have restructured as hybrid workplaces, where some people work from home and some work from the office, or completely remote workplaces — where everyone at the company works from home. People who are now working from a home office may want to ensure that the space they give themselves to work helps enable their productivity, focus, and comfort.

One way to make sure a home office enables their best performance is to focus on the decor. The decor of a space can greatly influence how they feel, and by incorporating different decor touches and changes, they can feel certain they’re spending their days in a place that makes them feel inspired.

Here are some home office decor tips that anyone can tackle on their own.

Consider Lighting Fixtures

How an office is lit makes a huge difference in how energized a worker feels there. A professional wants to make sure they have enough light to see their work clearly even on cloudy days or at night. An office should have a mixture of overhead lights and lamps on work surfaces. To infuse style into the space, a creative overhead fixture, such as a chandelier, provides plenty of light and also adds interest.

Pick a Great Chair

A home office chair matters because a person working will sit in it a lot. A chair must provide lumbar support and not leave anyone with a backache. However, many people don’t want a clunky rolling office chair in their space, since it’s not necessarily aesthetically pleasing or in line with the decor in the rest of their home. Luckily, there are some beautiful ergonomic chairs available that enable work without pain and also look beautiful in a space. Research stylish ergonomic chairs, then pick one that fits with a home’s style and also will feel great to sit in all day.

Don’t Forget the Walls

The walls of a room can have a significant impact on the way a space feels. Don’t just leave a home office’s walls white. Decorate them in a way that feels fun but also inspiring. Studies have shown that the color green helps people prolong their focus. So consider painting walls a fun green color or even choose a stylish green wallpaper to give a space life and help get more done. 

Let Sebastian Eilert Architecture Help you Redo Your Office

For anyone who doesn’t want to tackle a home office redecoration project on their own, or think they could benefit from the guidance of a professional, reach out to Sebastian Eilert Architecture. Our sustainable and ecologically responsible design firm also handles interior design projects in South Florida homes. Reach out to us via email to set up a consultation or call 786.556.3118. We can give our initial thoughts about how to improve a home office, and then we can get started ensuring a client’s home office is a place that’s beautiful — and really helps them work.



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.



The Psychological Benefits of Filling a Home With Plants

For any homeowner who has gone through the process of decorating their South Florida home, there’s a good chance they’ve picked out furniture, accent pieces, and interior design elements they love. However, one decor element they shouldn’t overlook as they fill up their space is plants. Plants can create a serene, pulled-together home decor aesthetic. But they not only enhance the way a home looks, they can also enhance the homeowner’s quality of life.

Research has shown time and again that filling up a home with plants has numerous health benefits — they even clean the air. However, along with their physical health benefits, plants can also improve mental health. Simply by bringing some greenery into a space, homeowners can actually improve their overall mental and emotional wellness.

It makes sense to fill a home with plants. Here are just a few psychological benefits of houseplants and how spending time around them might help change someone’s life. 

Boosted Mood

Houseplants have been proven to decrease depression in people and boost their mood so they feel better. A study by Urban Forestry and Urban Greeningshows 74% of study participants experienced increased emotional wellbeing and less stress when houseplants were incorporated into their environment. So fill a home with plants, and a home can become an even happier place than it already is.

Decreased Anxiety

Experts know that spending time around plants helps to decrease anxiety. That’s because greenery can engage the senses in ways that a space usually doesn’t. Plants are beautiful to look at, and they often smell good and give people unfamiliar textures to feel, as well. Having all these sensory experiences provided by plants can help increase mindfulness and bring homeowners to the present moment. This is a great way to decrease anyone’s anxiety and help them stay focused and in the present, rather than worrying about the past or future.

Improved Attention Span

House plants can improve a person’s attention span. In fact, a study in The Journal of Environmental Psychology showed that plants in a workspace can decrease mental fatigue and improve people’s ability to stay working on a task. Plus, having plants in a home can boost someone’s ability to focus. It may be especially valuable today since, post-COVID 19 pandemic, more people than ever work from home. For a homeowner who wants something to help them stay on task while they work, enhancing a workspace or home office (in particular) with plants is a good idea. A window can also provide a view of outdoor plants.

Want a Home to Fill with Plants? Work with Sebastian Eilert Architecture

Ready to start filling a home with plants or design and build a new home that can be filled with plants when it’s finished?  Contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture for assistance. We are committed to sustainable and ecologically responsible design, and Sebastian is recognized as one of the thirty most influential sustainable design architects in the world. Sebastian Eilert Architecture can handle anyone’s architectural and interior design project needs. Learn more about our work by visiting www.SebastianEilert.com. Get in touch at Sebastian@SebastianEilert.comor 786.556.3118.



One Rendering Challenge 2022: Competition Winners Announced! – Architizer Journal

Amazing rendering work images.

The Winners of the 3rd Annual One Rendering Challenge depict dramatic evolutions of architecture over time.
— Read on architizer.com/blog/competitions/one-rendering-challenge-2022-competition-winners-announced/



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.