What is Santa’s Carbon Footprint?

While the song talks about a white Christmas, the good people over at Ethical Ocean having been dreaming of a green Christmas. They decided to take a look at Santa’s carbon footprint, and have even offered some great tips to help Santa have a more environmentally friendly holiday. Enjoy!

Santa's Carbon Footprint Infographic

via Ethical Ocean – eco friendly products, fair trade and vegan shopping.

Pinecrest Gardens Needs Your Coffee Grounds

I don’t drink coffee. I know… how weird, right? Both of my parents were coffee drinkers, but I’ve never developed the taste for it. So, about once a month, I have to take a cup of coffee and a container of coffee grounds home from my office. The brewed coffee is mixed with henna for my hair, and the coffee grounds go into the soil in my garden. My gardenias especially love a bit of coffee every spring and summer.

Craig Morell, the horticulure expert at Pinecrest Gardens, also uses coffee for his garden – not his hair. And now he is looking for restaurants to donate their coffee grounds to Pinecrest Gardens, too.  According to their website:

A few months ago, he had a flash of inspiration: “Why not expand my home-garden usage of coffee grounds as an organic soil supplement to a larger scale, say…Pinecrest Gardens?” Gardeners have used coffee and tea grounds for decades on the soil of “special” plants like gardenias and roses, so why not use the artwork of a local barrista to our best purposes?… and so “Coffee for You in the Morning, For Your Garden in the Evening: Grounds for your Grounds” was born.

The local Starbucks have been donating their coffee grounds for the pilot program and Morell has seen “noticeable” benefits already. So if you own or manage a South Florida restaurant and would like to participate, contact Craig Morell by email at gardens@pinecrest-fl.gov

 

Miami-Dade County Helps Turn Your Backyard Green – Rain Barrel Workshop

Did you know that Florida receives an average of 56 inches of rainfall per year? And just a quarter- inch of rainfall over a 1000 square foot area (like your roof) can yield around 150 gallons of water. By placing rain barrels at your gutter downspouts, you can quickly fill a 50 gallon barrel with naturally pure water free of chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals to keep your flower beds, garden and houseplants well watered.


The Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Service, in cooperation with the University of Florida, is offering a series of Rain Barrel Workshops this year. The workshops are FREE to residents of Miami-Dade County; providing information about important water conservation issues plus instructions on how to construct and install a rain barrel yourself. And for those attending the workshop, you will also be able to purchase a 50 gallon rain barrel for just $40.


All rain barrel workshops also include a showerhead and light bulb exchange courtesy of Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department.

Plan to attend a workshop this Saturday, May 7th, from 10:00 – 11:00 at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, Florida 33139. For more information, contact Lize Luna at 305-248-3311 ext. 242 or Barbara McAdam  at ext. 245 or email Barbara at bmcadam@ufl.edu.

And for more information about real estate and environmental issues in Miami-Dade, visit my web page at http://www.melaniesellsmiami.com/

Melanie Dawn’s Fav Five Green Businesses Serving Pinecrest Florida

I am frequently asked to write guest articles for Coldwell Banker’s “Insight Real Estate Blog” serving the Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Florida markets. My recurring feature, called “Hear the Eco,” is about various green topics affecting the Miami-Dade real estate market.

In a recent four-part article, I wrote about my five favorite green businesses in or near the Village of Pinecrest. They are:

  • Evo’s green fast food: 9537 South Dixie Highway, Pinecrest
  • New Era Pest Control serving Pinecrest and all of Miami-Dade: 786-462-5912
  • Sudsies Drycleaner and Laundry (305-864-3279) / Dryeco Green Cleaners (877-7-Dryeco)
  • Staples: 9801 South Dixie Highway, Pinecrest
  • Whole Foods Market: 11701 South Dixie Highway, Pinecrest

For more details and links to these green businesses, visit the full article at Hear the Eco.

EPA: Multi-Family Housing Near Public Transit is Greener. Melanie Dawn: And in Miami, it’s Beautiful, too!

The EPA has just released a white paperconfirming what most of us know intuitively: multi-family housing located near public transportation is generally “greener” than any other type of housing.  Their graph tells the story very well:

It illustrates the two key points in the study about the relationship between housing style/location and energy consumption:

• “Choosing to live in an area with transportation options not only reduces energy consumption, it also can result in significant savings on home energy and transportation costs.”


• “Fairly substantial differences are seen in detached versus attached homes, but the most striking difference is the variation in energy use between single-family detached homes and multifamily homes, due to the inherent efficiencies from more compact size and shared walls among units.”

The EPA study also included a surprising correlation between proximity to public transportation and foreclosure rates:

“Location efficiency can contribute to or undermine a home’s affordability, and these impacts can also extend to a household’s financial stability. One analysis of some of the causes behind the U.S. financial crisis suggests that vehicle ownership and a lack of access to public transportation may be just as predictive of mortgage foreclosure rates as low credit scores and high debt-to-income ratios.”

In his 2010 book, “Foreclosing the Dream: How America’s Housing Crisis is Changing Our Cities and Suburbs,” Dr. William Lucy, professor of urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, said much the same thing:

““Location is more important than ever, and how location is interpreted has changed,” Lucy said.


With foreclosures and repossessions contributing to housing surplus predominantly in the outer suburbs and suburbs, these locations are not considered as being safe investments or as having good resale potential for 30- to 45-year-olds, who later need to sell for career advancement.”

Dr. Lucy and the EPA white paper also seem to be in agreement with other market studies that discuss the increasing demand for urban multi-family housing close to public transportation. The EPA study references a 2010 analysis completed by RCLCO and wrote, “that demographic changes are underway which are leading to rapid growth in the number of households without children. These households demonstrate a preference for more walkable, vibrant “urban” places with good transit access…”

In Miami we have been reading about this shift for several years now. In an October 2006 Miami Herald article by Elaine Walker, she talks to Allen and Stella Donelan about why they are moving to Downtown Dadeland:

“He also hates the hour-long commute to his U.S. Post Office job — he will cut that by two-thirds. With the Metrorail virtually next door, the Donelans plan to get rid of their second car.”

Multi-family housing located in “walkable” neighborhoods near public transportation and other amenities allows residents to save on transportation and other energy costs while living green.

And in Miami this means living on some of the most beautiful real estate anywhere in the country. The corridor from the northern edge of Downtown Miami, through Brickell, Coconut Grove, South Miami and Downtown Kendall/Dadeland boasts mid- and high-rise condominiums with Biscayne Bay views as well as attached and detached homes in tropical garden settings.

Search for Your Slice of Paradise

 

Top Ren Reasons to Install a Metal Roof – Even in Florida

metal roof melanie miamiA metal roof in South Florida may seem counter-intuitive. Under our summer sun, metal gets hot enough to cook an egg, right? But a metal roof actually reflects over 65% of the solar rays compared to only about 25% for asphalt shingle. And coated metal roofing also has a high degree of “thermal emittance,” which in plain English means they cool off fast. So here are the first of my top ten reasons to consider a metal roof in South Florida:

1. SAVE MONEY ON YOUR UTILITY BILLS: An Oak Ridge National Laboratory study reports that a metal roof can save homeowners up to 40 percent in summer cooling costs. EnergyStar.gov estimates that an ENERGY STAR rated metal roof can reduce peak cooling demand by 10-15 percent.

2. REBATES AND TAX CREDITS: Through the end of 2011, installing a metal roof qualifies for a 10% credit (up to $500) on the cost of the roofing materials. FPL offers a $0.45 per square foot rebate for qualifying metal roofs.

3. DURABILITY: Metal roofs can last well over 50 if properly maintained, and most manufacturers provide transferable warranties of at least 20 years. Metal roofing is resistant to fire, mildew, insects and rot.

4. SAFETY: Most metal roofs are rated to withstand hurricane winds of 110 mph to 130 mph winds – an important consideration in South Florida. Metal roofs are also fire and hail resistant, and many manufactures include fire, hail and wind protection guaranties.

5. REDUCE YOUR INSURANCE PREMIUMS: Homeowner’s insurance companies in at least 20 states (including Florida) provide wind, fire &/or impact discounts ranging from 18% to 35% off annual premiums.

6. ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Most metal roofing manufacturers use a minimum of 25% recycled content, and 98% of the finished product is recyclable. Asphalt shingles, by contrast, often contain asbestos which prohibits recycling under federal law. For new construction, a metal roof qualifies for credit towards LEED certification.

7. LIGHT WEIGHT: Metal roofing weighs as much as 75% less than slate, clay or concrete roofing, and approximately one-third less than asphalt shingle. This means homeowners will not be faced with additional structural requirements as can happen when switching to tile roofs; and your contractor may even recommend downsizing existing roof support.

8. BETTER INSTALLATION PROCESS: Metal roofs can be installed quicker than most other roofing systems, and can even be installed directly over the old asphalt roof. A metal roof is ideal for the minimally pitched roofs found on the MiMo style homes found in South Florida.

9. VARIETY OF COLORS AND STYLES: In addition to the classic standing seam style, metal roofs are now manufactured to look like regular shingles, barrel tile or even cedar shake. (See the photo above) So whatever style your home is, you can find a metal roofing style to compliment it.

10. INCREASE YOUR HOME’S RE-SALE VALUE: According to the 2005 “Residential Cost Handbook,” the appraised value of a home increases by $1.35 per square foot when a metal roof is installed. “Remodeling Magazine” reports that homes renovated with metal roofing gain between 1% to 6% in resale value over homes with asphalt roofing. It makes sense considering the long term transferable warranties, long life of the roofing system, lower maintenance costs and the substantial energy savings. A quality metal roof brings added beauty and value to your home that you and your future buyer will enjoy!

Visit my website at http://www.melaniesellsmiami.com/ for more information about green real estate in Miami.

Five Reasons to Compost in Miami-Dade

How_Compost_Happens

1. Composting is easy! As easy as throwing away your garbage, in fact. Simply separate compostable garbage into a separate bin.

2. Composting is saves money! Compost doesn’t require any fancy equipment, but it will save you money by reducing what you spend for fertilizers and potting soils.

3. Composting is good for your garden! Gardens that are composted produce more fruits, vegetables and flowers; and compost contains no petroleum products the way most commercial fertilizers do.

4. Composting is good for the planet! The EPA estimates that about 25% of your household waste is yard trimmings, vegetable scraps and other compostable items. Composting helps reduce our local landfills and emissions from the incinerator plants.

5. Composting is FREE! Compost workshops are being offered by Miami-Dade County, in cooperation with the University of Florida, and taught by a Master Gardener.

Learn how to start and maintain a compost pile to turn your yard waste and food scraps into rich soil this Saturday, February 5th, from 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. at the Coral Gables Farmers Market located at 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables, Florida 33134. For more information, contact Lize Luna at 305-248-3311 ext. 242 or Barbara McAdam at ext. 245 or email Barbara at bmcadam@ufl.edu.
A rain barrel workshop immediately follows from 1:00 – 2:00. The rain barrel workshop is free, plus Miami-Dade residents will have an opportunity to purchase a rain barrel for $40. The event also includes a showerhead and light bulb exchange courtesy of Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department. For more information, contact Lize Luna at 305-248-3311 ext. 242 or Barbara McAdam at ext. 245 or email Barbara at bmcadam@ufl.edu.

And for more information about real estate and environmental issues in Miami-Dade, visit my web page at https://www.melanieinmiami.com/

The Art of Sustainable Luxury

“The Art of Sustainable Luxury” was how the event was billed and on March 25th I was privileged to tour the first LEED for Homes Silver Certified Luxury Residence in Miami-Dade County. What this magnificent 5200 square foot waterfront home shows is that luxury does not need to be sacrificed to low-impact sustainable living.

LEED Silver Home 400x300When the owners first discovered the land parcel for their future home many years ago, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System) for Homes was still being developed. But by the time they acquired the property, the owners knew they wanted to integrate energy efficiency and environmentally sound elements into their home’s striking design. To help them achieve their goal, they partnered with KZ Architecture; Bell-Aqui, Inc landscape architects; Arbab Engineering, Inc; LNI Engineering; Gary G. Bloom PE civil engineer; and Alejandro Vargas at Visual Lighting. And to supervise the various certifications, the team brought in Gary Shlifer of Green Building Florida; Banks Clark of Environment, Safety and Health LC; and Eric Martin of Florida Solar Energy Center.

In addition to creating a home of breath-taking beauty, the team achieved an impressive set of green certifications:

• LEED for Homes Silver with 78 points
• FGBC Green Home Standard Gold 184 Points
• Energy Star for Homes HERS 72
• Florida Yards & Neighborhoods 226 Points

One of my favorite features of the home is the rainwater harvesting system with a 2500 gallon cistern located under the house and 83% of the roof area dedicated to rainwater capture. The system provides approximately 80% of their annual irrigation needs. Ninety two percent of the home’s finishes (paints, adhesives, etc) were no VOC (Volatile organic compounds) and the home was built with a wood-free insect resistant structure. In Florida, with our termites, carpenter ants and humidity, wood-free construction seems like such an obvious choice, doesn’t it?

The list of sustainable elements incorporated into this home was several pages long and included everything from dual-flush toilets to an exterior ceramic coating that insulates the home the way ceramic tiles insulates the space shuttle for re-entry. With all of the amazing attention to detail, the homeowners will realize almost 30% improved energy efficiency over similar new construction homes built to Florida Code in the same time period. In addition, they diverted 88% of the construction waste away from our landfills. Without a doubt, this home provides a model for what other luxury home developers and owners can accomplish.

For more information and photos of the home, visit KZ Architecture online. And for more information about Miami real estate, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 305-801-3133 or visit my website at http://www.melanieinmiami.com.

Melanie Dawn Molina Wood, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate LLC, is a proud member of the US Green Building Council – South Florida Chapter and a designated Eco-Broker. She also holds her level one Green Leadership (GCREP-GL) certificate among many other certifications and awards.