Miami Green Homes


Eco-Friendly Housing Design Principles

There are many different ways to increase the environmental responsibility of our housing and minimize the negative impact that new home construction can have. Whether reducing scale and minimizing possessions by adopting micro-living ideals or replacing appliances, thermostats, and lighting with smart, energy-efficient alternatives, we can each find some small way to make a meaningful contribution.

Here are a few of the most popular green, eco-friendly home design ideas that have gained popularity recently.

Passive House Design

The concept of a highly efficient home that minimizes unnecessary energy use through improved insulation materials and methods isn’t a new one, but it has gained traction and increased exposure in recent years.

The principles or standards that go into Passive House design are intended to optimize energy efficiency by incorporating elements like highly effective wall insulation, limiting heat transfer with superior materials, and heat recovery through specially designed devices built into the heating and cooling system.

The exterior walls of the home and the windows and doors must be made of high-quality material and constructed with exacting standards to ensure optimal energy use and conservation. Passive House design even extends to the physical orientation of the house. Windows which are correctly aligned to make the best use of available sunlight are central to some Passive House designs, and similarly thoughtful design elements make this one of the most popular eco-friendly design philosophies in housing.

Use Natural, Renewable Materials

Many more environmentally friendly building materials are commercially available now than they have been in the past. Sustainably sourced wood and plant products such as bamboo flooring are excellent alternatives to conventional materials. They cost less to produce, require less energy in production, and are free of any harmful or toxic chemicals that may have otherwise been needed for processing.

There are high-quality insulation options made from recycled materials and many natural options for flooring, wall coverings, window treatments, and interior and exterior wall paint. These green alternatives have the additional benefit of being free from toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds.

These chemicals present in conventional building materials in significant concentrations can contaminate living spaces for decades and cause serious health complications. These sustainable options are not only better for our environment, but they are also better for us and everyone we share it with.

Less is More

The Tiny House movement started as a design response to issues raised by worsening climate change conditions. Smaller houses require fewer construction materials and are designed to optimize energy use and incorporate renewable alternative energy sources.

These houses require much less energy to heat and cool and are easier to insulate more effectively than larger homes. Though Tiny House living may not be for everyone, many of the principles can be adapted for more conventional living spaces and inspire people to be more thoughtful about the way they use energy, especially at home.

Putting Principle Into Practice

If you would like to explore tiny house or other sustainable design options, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to discuss ways you can reduce your environmental impact. Mr. Eilert is proud of his commitment to sustainable housing and would love to be able to help you meet your conservation goals.



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’


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.



Which Renovations Add Value to a Home?

There are many different reasons to remodel or renovate a home, but most typically, people will consider a remodel if they plan to sell in the near future. Some remodeling projects can dramatically increase a home’s market value — but not all.

Carefully considering which renovations to make before putting a home up for sale can help avoid expensive and time-consuming projects that won’t ultimately provide a return on the investment put into them.

Some home improvement or design projects can increase the amount a home will sell for, while others will likely leave prospective buyers unimpressed. It’s good to know which is which — here are the best renovations to make to a home before putting it on the market.

The Heart of the Home

Even people who aren’t enthusiastic cooks spend a great deal of time in the kitchen of their homes. It’s one of the most significant factors potential buyers base decisions on and one of the rooms they will typically look at first. A small, worn kitchen with outdated and inefficient appliances will likely turn buyers off.

Something as simple as newly painted kitchen cabinets and trim can help, but few things increase a home’s market value and buyer appeal like new, energy-efficient appliances. New granite countertops are lovely, but saving money month after month and minimizing environmental impact in the process will likely appeal to many more homebuyers than just cosmetic improvements.

Go Green

Increasing the overall energy efficiency of a home can start with the major appliances, but it doesn’t have to end there.

Replacing or increasing the amount of insulation in a home and installing new windows with a low U factor (which indicates how well they insulate) are excellent investments. Other options like installing solar panels or adding features like smart lighting or a smart thermostat are other excellent ways to add considerable value to a home being put up for sale.

New energy-efficient heat pumps, water heaters, washing machines and dryers, and other large appliances that provide significant energy savings will increase the amount a seller can expect from a home. The initial investment will pay off both in terms of immediate gains and environmental impact over time.

Update the Bathroom

Most of us start and end each day in the bathroom, and a bathroom that feels outdated can make a house feel vaguely rundown and lackluster. Luckily, the bathroom is a great place to make renovations before selling a home. They’re generally some of the smallest rooms in a home and are more affordable to remodel or renovate.

Small cosmetic improvements like new faucets, upgraded tiling, or new window treatments are all excellent options. More considerable value can be added to a house by upgrading the bathroom appliances to be more eco-friendly (and economical). Low-flow showerheads and toilets save money over the long term and are excellent for the environment, as they reduce the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated.

Expert Advice

Whatever your reasons for wanting to renovate, bigger projects call for professional expertise. If you live in Miami or South Florida and are thinking of making a significant renovation, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture today to discuss your immediate needs and how he can help.



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.



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.



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.



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.