Miami Green Homes


Greener Kitchens

The kitchen is, in many ways, the heart of the home, and it’s a fantastic place to make environmentally-friendly changes. Much of the energy consumed in the home is used in the kitchen, and positive changes there can bring significant benefits. It’s more than just environmentally friendly — it’s fiscally friendly as well, and even small changes can add up to considerable savings over time.

Eco-Friendly Cooking

Increasing the energy efficiency of kitchen appliances is one of the best things you can do to reduce a home’s carbon footprint. Of course, the best options are newer, energy-efficient appliances, but there are various other ways to conserve that are nearly as effective.

When possible, choose smaller model appliances that require less energy. A two-burner stove uses significantly less energy than a conventional four-burner cooktop, and smaller refrigerators can be excellent choices for energy conservation if the capacity of a larger model isn’t necessary.

Small Efforts, Big Impacts

If relying on older appliances is a necessity, simply unplugging them when not in use can prevent a significant amount of energy from being needlessly consumed. Use a microwave for smaller meals or for reheating food — it uses less energy than a gas stove to do nearly the same job. Avoid heating a larger than necessary amount of water, and always cover pots so they will heat more quickly.

When storing food, always let it cool before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer. Freezers work best when full, and refrigerators work best when there’s sufficient room for air to circulate, so try to store food accordingly. Avoid leaving refrigerator and freezer doors open for longer than necessary, and make sure to defrost regularly and check to ensure food is kept at the proper temperature.

Food stored at warmer temperatures will spoil faster, but food stored at temperatures colder than necessary can waste a considerable amount of energy. Refer to your appliance manual for the proper temperature ranges and control settings.

Cleaner and Greener

There are many opportunities for more environmentally conscious behaviors when we’re cleaning the kitchen as well. Using washable, reusable cloth dishtowels and napkins is more sustainable than paper products. Similarly, avoid using plastic cups or utensils whenever possible, as non-disposable alternatives are always more environmentally responsible.

Use glass or metal storage containers when possible, as they can be washed and reused, preventing plastic from entering the waste management cycle. Remember the three Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle — and always try to get more than one use out of packaging or containers before recycling.

Only run dishwashers when they are full, and if possible, run them at off-peak hours. It’s worth noting that rinsing plates before putting them in the dishwasher is seldom necessary and should be avoided. Likewise, spending more on higher-quality detergent can be a more sustainable option, as cold water can be used instead of hot.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Design Expertise

To discuss eco-friendly kitchen design options available to you and to get expert renovation and remodeling advice on your next renovation project, contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to discuss your project needs. Mr. Eilert is dedicated to sustainable, eco-friendly design and construction methods and would love to discuss green options with you.



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.



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.



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.