Miami Green Homes

GaiaMa – a LEED Platinum Vastu design by Sebastian Eilert Architecture

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cupola and photovoltaic array

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

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

Edible landscape design and rainwater pond

Sebastian Eilert Architecture is a sustainable architecture and Interior Design firm with its main office in Miami, Florida.  The boutique firm specializes in the quality design and delivery of for custom new residential homes and light hospitality projects. Sebastian Eilert Architecture has significant experience in the design of Miami-Dade County criteria compliance, design for aging in place, durable and minimal maintenance design, as well as waterfront and off-grid projects.

Project highlights include the first USGBC LEED certified project for Miami Dade County, the Lower Garden Building in Pinecrest Gardens for the Village of Pinecrest, a durable focused residence in the Moorings neighborhood in Coconut Grove (no drywall or wood used in the project), a Contemporary style Coral Gables waterfront home with an original canal access boat house, and a major renovation and addition of a 1912 Coconut Grove Mansion (received a Sustainable Design Award from DHT).

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

German born principal, Sebastian Eilert AIA, LEED AP+ has been awarded, among others, the Historic Preservation, Sustainable Design Architect of the Year, and Young Architect of the Year award from the AIA Miami and honorary Emerging Green Builder from the University of Miami. Mr. Eilert was adjunct professor at the University of Miami and a frequent team member of the AIA National SDAT program.

Precision, quality, and dedication to timely completion distinguish Sebastian Eilert Architecture from its competitors… the German Way. Find more projects, and contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to start your own project, on


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Bee Bricks That Help Thousands of Solitary Bees Are Now a Requirement for New Buildings in Brighton

The south-coast city of Brighton and Hove, in England, is mandating that new buildings be included with special bricks for nesting bees.
— Read on

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

Wind Turbines Are Using Cameras and AI to See Birds –And Shut Down When They Approach

IdentiFlight, AI-based cameras, can recognize eagles and hawks as they approach in enough time to pause turbines in their flight path.
— Read on

Towering Over the City, This ‘Farmscraper’ Will Produce 270 tons of Food from Hydroponics on 51-Stories

A new 51-story ‘farmscraper’ in China, designed by an Italian architecture firm Carlo Ratti, will have food growing for Schenzen city.
— Read on

Cultivate These Keystone Plants in Your Yard to Help Bees and Butterflies Thrive and Pollinate

Keystone plant species in North America are important for helping pollinators and insects like bees, butterflies, and caterpillars.

Source: Cultivate These Keystone Plants in Your Yard to Help Bees and Butterflies Thrive and Pollinate

How to create a Rain Barrel…

Previously mentioned in landscaping and irrigation posts, a rain barrel is a wonderful way to use some of that otherwise wasted water and reduce your potable water need for irrigation. There are some good options available for sale, but why not get creative and make it a fun weekend project to build your own piece of green building – a rain barrel.

I noticed a number of workshops for this and have myself 2 preferred sources, one of them in our backyard at the University of Florida. They have teamed up with Miami Dade County  Consumer and Water Department and are going around town to show and tell how it is done.

I recently noticed them at the Coral Gables Farmers market and at the Going Green day for the Village of Pinecrest…so keep looking for them.

Painted rain barrel


Electric Drill

  • Drill bit ½-inch to 1-inch
  • Drill bit 3/16-inch
  • Drill bit 1/8 inch
  • Jigsaw
  • Marking pen
  • Phillips screw driver
  • Pocket knife
  • Work-bench
  • Extension cord
  • Safety glasses


Plastic drum (55 gal. is best). Barrels that have carried food products are recommended. Some cleaning product barrels are OK after rinsing. Do NOT use petroleum or toxic chemical barrels.

The following are all PVC fittings:

  • Two-inch male adapter
  • Two-inch male slip x 3/4-inch female threaded adapter
  • 3/4-inch male threaded x 3/4-inch female threaded elbow (3/4 inch street el)
  • Four inch long 3/4-inch threaded nipple

The following can be either metal or plastic:

  • 3/4-inch female sillcock or hose bibb
  • PVC cement
  • Teflon™ tape or Teflon™ pipe joint compound
  • Silicone sealant
  • Three stainless steel sheet metal screws #10 x 3/4 inch
  • Stainless steel mesh with plastic rim kitchen strainer (4 to 6 inch diameter)


  1. Turn the barrel so that the end with no openings is facing up. 
  2. Fit the strainer on the end which is facing up so that it lays flat.
  3. Mark around the perimeter of the strainer, remove strainer and draw another line about ½ inch inside the perimeter line.
  4. Drill a pilot hole using the large bit just inside the inner drawn circle.
  5. Using the saber saw follow the inner circle line until the circle is removed. Remove the circle if it has fallen into the barrel. This is a good time to make sure the barrel is clean inside.
  6. Drill pilot holes in the strainer flanges and handle using the 3/16-inch bit. Place the strainer on the barrel and mark the hole locations on the barrel.
  7. Drill pilot holes in the barrel using the 1/8-inch bit.
  8. Partially screw into the strainer the #10 screws. Check to make sure the strainer holes match the barrel holes.
  9. Apply silicone sealant to the strainer rim and place the strainer into position. Tighten screws until just snug. (Pat yourself on the back, you have just completed the first part of the barrel).
  10. Place the barrel on its side. Unscrew one of the plastic filler plugs in the other end of the barrel.
  11. Apply PVC cement to the two-inch male adapter sleeve and place the two-inch male x 3/4-inch female threaded adapter inside and press together for a few seconds.
  12. Insert street el into the 3/4-inch hole of the adapter. Use teflon tape or sealant on all threaded parts 
  13. Insert 4 inch nipple into street el 
  14. Screw assembly into barrel. Four-inch nipple will work as a wrench to tighten first two fittings. 
  15. Connect water faucet to 4-inch nipple. Hand-tighten to proper position.
  16. Place barrel on level, sturdy base. Direct downspout over the strainer. (Hooray, you now have a functioning rain barrel).

Here are some more helpful hints from UF:

Contact Sebastian Eilert about your green project of any size ([email protected] 786.556.3118)