Miami Green Homes


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.

Advertisement


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/



Residential Insulation Options for South Florida

There’s a reason why an increasing number of people choose to call Florida home. The beautiful weather and gorgeous landscapes can’t be beaten. However, as with any warm climate, special considerations need to be taken to ensure that a house, whether new construction or an existing home, is as comfortable and cost-efficient as possible, all year-round.

The importance of residential insulation

It may seem like a house in a temperate area like Miami wouldn’t need much insulation, but the opposite is true. While houses in colder regions of the country require insulation to keep the heat in, homes in southern Florida must be insulated to hold the heat at bay and minimize the amount of work the A/C has to do. 

The history of insulation use

People have been using some form of insulation for millennia. From fur-covered hides stretched over wooden frames in prehistorical times to the advent of fiberglass insulation in the 1930s and modern blown-in foam, insulation has played a significant part in making homes more comfortable and hospitable. Luckily, there is no longer a need for hair-on hides, but the modern options are greater than ever.

The best types of insulation for South Florida homes

Choosing insulation that matches the architecture of a home is important. For instance, a house with a vaulted ceiling will require a different type of insulation that will work with the home’s interior design, as opposed to a single-level ranch where it will not be obvious. The most crucial factor is the R-value of insulation. R-value indicates how well insulation will perform in keeping heat from either entering or leaving your home. The higher the number, the more efficient it will be. 

Batt Insulation

Batt insulation is sold in rolls or strips. It is appropriate for walls, ceilings, and floors. It is made from fiberglass or rock wool and, while one of the older forms of insulation, it is still popular.

Blown-in Fiberglass or Cellulose Insulation

Both blown-in fiberglass and cellulose insulation gained popularity between the 1950s and 1990s. They are a particularly popular option for attics and walls. Cellulose has been shown to have a higher R-value than fiberglass. The downside to these insulations is that they can be messy if attics or other areas must be accessed regularly.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation has become a popular choice for many homes. It is easily applied (by qualified contractors) to walls and roofs and is shown to be watertight while having a high R-value. 

Rigid Insulation

Also known as foam board insulation, rigid insulation can be used in any part of the home. It can be cut to size and is easily removed if need be. It is advantageous in areas where blown-in or foam insulation may not be practical. 

 

Foil Insulation

Foil insulation is an excellent option in hot climates in that it reflects heat away from the foil surface. Its thin composition makes it ideal for pairing with other insulations, such as batt insulation. Therefore, installing the foil side facing out will keep heat from moving through the walls and roof into the living areas. 

Ready to start your own project? Contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture for your Architectural and Interior Design project needs.

http://www.SebastianEilert.com

Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com

786.556.3118



Can Architecture Bring Us Joy? – Architizer Journal

It can, and it should!

As communities navigate ongoing health and environmental crises, the ability for architecture to raise spirits has never been more vital.
— Read on architizer.com/blog/inspiration/industry/architecture-plus-joy/



This Wind Turbine Panel Lets You Harness Enough Energy to Power Your Home

The unique optical-illusion generating wind wall, is a cool way to generate renewable electricity for your house.
— Read on www.goodnewsnetwork.org/this-wind-turbine-sculpture-lets-you-harness-enough-energy-to-power-your-home/



These Sustainable Hotels Are Doing Good for Their Communities–and the World | AFAR

6 ways that hotels across the globe are investing in sustainable practices and making the world better, one step at a time.
— Read on www.afar.com/magazine/6-ways-hotels-around-the-world-are-working-to-become-more-sustainable

Sustainable architecture on the list! An important element for any “place”



Architects as day-to-day activists, not just design stars:

Few architects will reach stardom in their carrier or their life. The ones that do have typically been blessed by a unique commission that allowed them to truly and freely feature their skills resulting in a spectacular structure. Frequently these structures are of a public or high profile private nature, such as museums, signature buildings or government functions.

activist

Activistarchitect.blogspot.com

Most architects work on more day to day projects that do not come with glamour, but still have a severe impact: A home renovation or new home design directly affects the lives of the family that is living in it; a new restaurant provides a place of business, employment and entertainment; a supermarket becomes the key to growth of a neighborhood;

The impact of the architect on daily life cannot be overstated. Designs create, in a reasonable timeframe, a place or building that has the capacity to influence history – large or small. Good design choice can and should make statements to encourage underlying principles of good living and good communities. Incorporating a certain feature over another has the potential to shape the future path of an individual, being it a resident, business owner, worker, tenant… or just someone passing by. Look at architecture and design as opportunities for good, not just to the specific client, but the neighborhood, the community and even the planet. Everyone, every project matters!

activist 2



Architectural Style guide – South Florida: Transitional Style

A recent project in Coral Gables, Florida encouraged me to define a style currently growing in the South Florida markets. It is often referred to as Florida Modern or Key West Modern but more accurately called Transitional Style. It can be defined as follows:

Transitional Style (also known as “updated classic”, “classic with a contemporary twist”, “new takes on old classics”) in design refers to a blend of traditional and contemporary styles, midway between old world traditional and the world of chrome and glass contemporary; incorporating lines that are less ornate than traditional designs, but not as severely basic as contemporary lines. As a result transitional designs are classic, timeless, and clean.

Curves combine with straight lines in a transitional style to deliver a look that balances both masculine and feminine attributes for a comfortable, contemporary design. The scales of the pieces are ample but not overwhelming. A lack of ornamentation and decoration keeps the focus on the simplicity and sophistication of the design.[1]

Unlike contemporary style, transitional style focuses on comfort and practicality to meet the lifestyle of an active household. it looks somewhat traditional on the outside (not a contemporary style home) but on the inside, it most likely has the very open floorplan as well as possibly 2 story volume ceilings, etc, not the traditional well defined rooms with doors and four walls.

3D View 36

Rendered view of Coral Gables design home.

Look for more style definitions and examples in future posts



The scent of building, or what is that construction smell…?

Construction sites are not the most pleasant places for both the workers and those around them. They create lots of noise [machinery], smells [ah, roof tar!] and debris [smoke, ash, fumes, etc.]. But fear not. There are many ways for a construction site to be managed that can decrease all of these effects on the surrounding area and its inhabitants and diminish the pollution created by the building process.

  1. Is there a chalky smell in your home or apartment after construction is finished? This is caused by dust buildup. This isn’t your average dust. It’s not dead skin or hair (eww!) but is rather , material shavings from materials like Sheetrock or ceramic tile. When ceramic tile is being cut for a bathroom, for example, the dust gets trapped in the ventilation. Or how about when you go through the final sanding process after mudding your drywall. First, trying to cover your furntiture, beds, countertops (anything you come into contat with on a daily basis) with a nice layer of Visqueen (that heavy duty plastic meant to keep your stuff safe. I also recommend buying a canister vacuum to get the dust out or suck it all in but then be sure to empty the canister in an outdoor area (not in the same place you just cleaned up).. Sometimes, you just have to let the vacuum remain in one place for 30 seconds in order to attract all the dust.
  2. How do you handle noise pollution? Just because workers are up bright and shiny at 7 am doesn’t mean that the neighbors are ready to face the day.  Loud equipment, delivery trucks and the ever-dreaded jackhammer create a most undesirable symphony that is simply diffiult to avoid.  But, there are ways to alleviate the problem. Creating a construction plan that allows for the loudest of jobs to be executed during the middle to the end of the day helps for sure and reminding staff that everyone does not appreciate the latest in salsa or R&B.
  3. The garbage accumulated on a construction site is made up of food, bottles, construction debris, and general packaging. Creating a recycling program helps to separate this debris. Garbage pickup on a site can be expensive, so by setting up a recycling program you don’t incur the costs of added containers and you help alleviate those back-to-back days of paella delivery. Some cities even pay you for your recycled bottles. Another way to alleviate the amount of garbage is to provide your workers with metal bottles, such as a Sigg (mysigg.com). These bottles are reusable, can be dropped from high heights without being damaged and save the environment.
  4. Some common construction smells also include gasses and fumes. These come from paints, treated woods, some metals, old  toilets, and even the construction equipment. The machines used on a construction site tend to run on gas which releases black clouds of smoke into the air. Many cities and states have made the use of machines that create these gas clouds illegal, so it is good practice to look into the more efficient and friendly alternatives. The fumes can also come from paints. High-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints tend to release noxious odors that damage brain cells and release harmful gasses into the environment. Low-VOC paint is the same price as the high-VOC paint, lasts just as long, and is just as durable, so why not make the switch?
  5. Another odor causing element of a construction site is standing water. Puddles and small pools can form during the excavation process (which releases unpleasant smells into the air ras well) and these pools, when left sitting for too long, begin to smell sulfurous. This is especially true is places like Miami which is situated right on top of its water table.  These puddles should be drained from time to time in order to avoid them becoming either a stink pool or a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes.

http://www.rez.org/2012/01/the-smell-of-a-construction-site/ http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/environment-and-recycling/pollution-noise-and-nuisance/ http://www.querrey.com/assets/attachments/15.pdf http://www.adbio.com/catalogs/BioWorld-Odor-Control-Catalog.pdf http://www.lhsfna.org/files/bpguide.pdf http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/swppp.cfm