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  • Writer's pictureMaria Luisa Castellanos

11 ways to make your new Miami house, addition, or renovation more sustainable by Miami architect

This is a living room sitting area
Photography by Dan Gold from Unsplash

As a LEED Certified Professional and a Miami residential architect with offices in Coral Gables, I want to give you 10 ways you can make your new house, house renovation, or addition more sustainable in Miami, Florida.

Here is the list:

1. Increase the insulation in your roof. Most of the heat in your house comes through your roof and not your walls. So, increasing the insulation in your roof will go a long way to lowering your air-conditioning bills.

2. Orient your house or addition in such a way as to allow light into the rooms during the best times of the day. Western sun at the end of the day will make your rooms uncomfortable with the heat and the long shadows. The best light is on the eastern side in the morning, and at noon on the south, as long as there is some kind of protection over the windows such as eyebrows or overhangs. Providing the right orientation for the house or addition, in the beginning, will be a gift to you later on. You can read more about this issue here.

3. Plant trees close to your house. The Miami-Dade County Landscape Code requires 3 trees for a new house and recommends that the trees be planted close new house, particularly over an air-conditioning unit. But even if you are building an addition, make sure that new trees are part of your budget. Not only will trees beautify your house, but they will save you on air-conditioning bills.

4. If you are renovating, what materials can you salvage? Some materials such as wood studs could be reused if they are not rotted. This will not only save you money on the construction but will also save trees that will not have to be cut down for your project. Along the same lines, do you really have to take down that partition and move it a few feet? If you really need to, it’s not a problem, but realize that every time you move a partition, the floor, the electrical, the ceiling, and possibly even the ductwork may have to be moved. And if it is a bearing partition, it will be even more problematic and costly to move. Something that looks simple could turn out to be costly.

5. Can you buy previously used materials? One of my clients went to an estate sale and bought the cabinets to use in her remodeling. You could never tell they were previously used. You can see the project here.

6. Use local materials whenever possible. Miami has locally available windows and doors. Use them. Do not import them from elsewhere. And if you can afford impact-resistant windows and doors, they are more energy efficient than regular ones. Also, your house will likely survive a hurricane in better condition.

7. When you are using wood products, make sure they are certified by the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

8. Build smaller. This will save you more on construction and air-conditioning bills.

9. Get the most energy-efficient air-conditioning system and appliances you can afford. And get LED lighting. In the long run, these will save you money.

10. Before specifying a material, find out if the product is locally produced. It is more environmentally sound when you buy a product that is available in Miami and not being trucked all the way from California. For example, windows are locally produced. There is no reason to buy windows from outside of Florida.

11. Lastly, design your house or addition for cross-ventilation. On cool days in the winter, you can open the windows and save money and the planet at the same time!

1 Comment

Unknown member
May 02, 2023

A damaged or cracked roof is not renovated on time can creep into the foundation and cause bigger issues followed by a large financial loss. Always choose Roof Repair Miramar experts because they do their job professionally at reasonable cost.

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