UPDATE: This article was originally posted at Melanie in Miami. I spoke with Randall last week, and he is pleased to announce that his family should be moving in to their new green home this week.
Recently I had the great pleasure of touring Randall Moreland’s home currently under construction in Coconut Grove. Randall is the owner and principal architect of Moreland Architecture + Sustainable Design, as well as a fellow Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate agent. His 5 bedroom, 3 bath house on Trapp Avenue is both a showcase of sustainable design and an eminently livable home for his family.
Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “The ensemble of the rooms should… be carefully considered that comfort and utility may go hand in hand with beauty” – an idea that is exemplified in this house. The overall design blends the needs of his family, the demands of the city’s Miami-21 building code, and the requirements of the LEED Platinum certification Moreland expects to attain for the house.
One of the more interesting twists (pun intended) is the city’s requirement that one side of the house run parallel to the street vs the vitally important sustainable building principle of site orientation. To resolve the the conflict, Moreland included a home office at the front which parallels the street, while the bulk of the house sits at a 45 degree angle along a north-south axis to allow maximum indirect light and breeze but minimizing direct heat from the sun.
The house is constructed with 4″ poured concrete walls, poured concrete slab flooring, and a 6″ concrete roof deck with a standing-seam metal roof. In addition to making the home exceptionally hurricane-resistant and providing a tight building envelope, the interior was noticeably cooler even in our late summer Florida heat. Long-time readers of my blog know that I am a huge fan of metal roofs. What I have recently discovered, though, is how ideal the standing-seam style roof is for solar panel installation. The solar panels are attached to the metal roof with hurricane-rated clamps, eliminating the need for holes in the roof deck. Daniel Camacho, Project Manager for Abender Electrical Contractors, was available during the tour to talk about the solar panel system installed for this home.
Many of the house’s green features are becoming almost standard for home owners interested in sustainability, lower energy costs, lower maintenance and healthier environments. These include the dual flush toilets, bamboo cabinetry, FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood for trim, 75% recycled content counters, LED light fixtures, Energy Star appliances, ceiling fans in all of the rooms, polished concrete floors and native landscaping.
The house is designed with three zones – the main living area, the family bedroom wing, and the guest bedroom wing. Each zone has its own high-efficiency a/c system to allow temperature adjustments based on occupancy and lowering energy costs. The deep overhangs outside, operable windows throughout, and building orientation also contribute to interior climate control.
The windows in Moreland’s house deserve special mention. As Mike Wilson, Senior Architectural Consultant at CGI, explained, the “Estate Collection” windows are “lowE” glass. This means that the glass is coated to reflect long-wave heat energy while still allowing the light (short-wave) through. The glass is, of course, hurricane impact resistant plus the superior fit contributes to the well sealed building envelope.
Since the 1970’s, vaulted ceilings in Florida have gotten a bad reputation for increasing energy costs due to difficulties keeping the spaces cool. As the Trapp Avenue house demonstrates, vaulted ceilings can actually be a vital part of interior climate control and help lower energy costs. At the center of the house, Moreland has installed a huge reversible ceiling fan plus a louvered vent system. This will allow hot air to be drawn into the vaulted area, away from the living area, and then vented out of the house thereby helping to cool the interior and reducing burden on the a/c system.
One feature not typically seen in the average home, but required for a LEED Platinum home are the walk-off mats at the entryways. The intent of a walk-off mat according to the LEED rating system is to capture exterior dirt and pollutants to help maintain indoor air quality. Moreland has even included a mud-room to store the shoes.
From the low VOC “Brave Purple” paint in the children’s rooms to the 1000 gallon cistern to capture and store rainwater for landscape needs, Randall Moreland has designed a beautiful home where form, function and sustainability are inextricably joined.