CBRE: Miami among top cities for green commercial buildings

CBRE 400x400The South Florida Business Journal reports that “a new study by CBRE Group and Maastrict University ranked Miami ninth in the nation, with 19.4 percent of its commercial real estate certified as green.”

Miami currently has 79 buildings totaling 21 million square feet of office space that are LEED certified under one or more of the rating systems.

Patricia Nooney, LEED AP and head of investor services for CBRE Florida, is quoted in the news release, “Miami was slow to embrace green building standards relative to cities like San Francisco and Manhattan, but has caught up quickly thanks in part to good public policy and buy-in from owners and investors who realize there is growing demand from tenants for more sustainable, energy efficient space,”

It helps that Miami’s municipal building code requires all new private development over 50,000 square feet to be built to LEED Silver standards.

USGBC Inforgraphic: LEED in the World

USGBC LEED in the World infographic
LEED registered & certified projects in the world as of April 2013; courtesy USGBC


The U.S. Green Building Council has a new, easy to read, infographic called “LEED in the World”. It lists the number of registered and certified LEED projects internationally, along with the top 10 countries with green buildings.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and is an internationally recognized program “that provides third-party verification of green buildings. Building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for the project. Learn more about LEED, the facts, and the LEED rating systems.”

According to the USGBC’s website, building to LEED standards can:

  • Lower operating costs and increase asset value
  • Conserve energy, water and other resources
  • Be healthier and safer for occupants
  • Qualify for money-saving incentives, like tax rebates and zoning allowances

Perhaps this is why, as the USGBC notes, the “numbers show the explosive growth of the green building movement beyond North America, demonstrating the growing global consensus about the worldwide imperative to green the built environment.”

Green Building 101: Debunking Myths of Green Building and Remodeling

Green Building 101: Debunking Myths of Green Building and Remodeling (via Green Building Elements)

  As Green Building Elements take on the project of green building from the ground up, we focused on consideration of space in week 1 and the use of Bioclimatic design on week two. This week, let’s take a closer look at some of the myths behind green building and renovation. We debunk false…

Post-Katrina New Orleans Experiments With Largest Solar Power Neighborhood In Southeast

Back in early 2008, I wrote about Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” foundation.  “When Brad Pitt visited New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward two years after Hurricane Katrina, he was shocked by the lack of rebuilding progress in this historic, working class community. Many worried the plight of the neighborhood would be forgotten. In a bold move, Pitt committed to help rebuild in the hardest hit area of the city.” To date in New Orleans, “Make It Right” has built 87 of the planned 150 homes with green features such as no-VOC paints and flooring and ENERGY STAR® appliances. Many of the homes also have solar panels. Now, New Orleans is the location of another solar powered housing development experiement:

Largest Solar Power Neighborhood In Southwest Built In New Orleans(via Clean Technica)

  The St. Thomas Housing Project had been a somewhat rundown low-income housing project before Hurricane Katrina hit, known primarily for its high crime rate. But now, the area has become the focus of several government agencies working to revitalize it through sustainable and renewable technologies…

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Fairchild Garden’s Butterfly Conservatory And Science Village Seeks USGBC LEED Certification

Fairchild Garden's World Class Butterfly Conservatory And Science Village To Open On Saturday, December 1, 2012 (via PR Newswire)

Download image CORAL GABLES, Fla., Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s state-of-the-art DiMare Science Village, covering more than 25,000 square feet and featuring The Clinton Family Conservatory featuring a splendid butterfly exhibit, the Glasshouse Cafe, Windows…

Four Environmental Innovations That Have Revolutionized Architecture – Guest Post

Guest Post: Four Environmental Innovations That Have Revolutionized Architecture (via Green Building Elements)

The green revolution has impacted almost every sector of the economy. Now, eco-friendly technology is revolutionizing the way we think about architecture. Every part of the architectural process is undergoing huge changes. When people think of green architecture, they often picture simple modifications…

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Miami MetroRail Orange Line to Miami International Airport

On July 28, 2012, City of Miami celebrated its “Sweet 116” and the official launching of its MetroRail Orange Line to Miami International Airport.  The new Orange Line runs on existing track from the Dadeland South Metrorail station north to the Earlington Heights station where is separates and continues to the airport. The MIA station is located at the developing Miami Central Station which also houses the gorgeous Rental Car Center. From there, passengers board  the MIA Mover, a USGBC LEED Gold-certified automated people mover to the airport terminal.

I attended opening day, riding the train between MIA and Downtown’s Government Center station, taking photos and video along the way:


Financing Sources To Help You Build or Renovate Green

Guest Post: Funding a Greener Home by author Jonah Trenton (via

Melanie Dawn Miami LEED Platinum Coconut Grove
Standing-seam metal roof & solar panels

Improving a home’s energy efficiency or adding alternative green energy sources is a smart way to help the environment, reduce monthly utility expenses and enhance occupant health and comfort. However, the initial cost of “going green” can put a financial strain on the homeowner, especially in a down economy. How can individuals fund their “green” home improvement projects? Consider the following tips.

Apply for a Grant

Homeowners do not directly receive federal assistance for green home improvement projects. However, the United States government allocates grant money through the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Veterans’ Affairs Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development. These organizations make the funds available through grants distributed by state organizations to qualifying homeowners.

Depending on the particular grant, funding may cover all or part of the green project. Qualifications vary depending on the organization. Common parameters include low to moderate income, age, veteran’s status, disability status or family dynamic, such as being a single mother. The Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington maintains a list of all grant opportunities, including government and private resources. is another valuable resource to see what grants you may qualify to receive.

Ask Your Utility Company

On a local level, many utility companies partner with local governments to provide grants that encourage customers to utilize greener resources weatherize their homes or install energy efficient appliances. Power companies may also use grant money to provide energy audits and education for customers. Homeowners can check the website of their local municipality or utility company to see what opportunities are available in their area.

Get Help from Private Organizations

Many foundations and nonprofit organizations give back to the community by offering green grants. The Home Depot Foundation funds nonprofit organizations that provide green assistance to low to moderate income families. United Way also offers funding based on household income. Check with housing organizations in your area to find out what is offered.

Apply for an Energy Efficient Mortgage

Banks have made it easier for borrowers to include the cost of energy efficiency in their mortgage as opposed to having large out-of-pocket expenses after the purchase of a home. Energy Efficient Mortgages are typically used for new homes. The buyer is credited for the home’s energy efficiency, allowing the bank to be flexible regarding the debt-to-income qualifying ratio. Thus, the buyer is able to qualify for a larger loan and purchase a more energy-efficient home. Similarly, Energy Improvement Mortgages are used when purchasing a pre-existing home that needs green improvements. Buyers are able to borrow a larger amount without increasing their down payment.

Utilize Income Tax Credits

Homeowners that install qualifying renewable energy or energy efficient systems in their home are able to deduct a certain amount from their income tax. Tax-payers can claim 30 percent of the cost of labor and installation and up to $1,500 spent on equipment, including energy efficient air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters or construction materials.

Research Local Tax Credits

Many states and municipalities offer incentives to encourage homeowners to upgrade to renewable energy sources. For example, California will allow individuals to deduct the entire cost of installing a solar energy system from their property taxes. Dual-use systems receive a 75 percent deduction.

Making a home greener is an ecologically smart choice. Taking the time to research available funding sources for your demographic can make it a financially smart choice as well.

Other options

If none of the above options work out, there’s still an abundance of home improvement or renovation loans, taking out equity in your house or various other mortgage types that might work for you even if they aren’t directly catered to greener living. Speak with your mortgage professional to find a solution created to fit your particular situation.

Guest Post: Funding a Greener Home by author Jonah Trenton (via reposted with permission

Miami Culinary Institute – great food, great fun and green!

Wednesday night’s monthly meeting of the US Green Building Council Miami branch combined virtually all of my passions – urban Miami, real estate, green building, sustainability & environmental consciousness, great food, and bubbly champagne. We met at the Miami Culinary Institute, located at 415 NE 2 AV in downtown Miami, for a short presentation by Chef John Richards, director of MCI. While we sipped our champagne, Chef John talked about the history and purpose of the Miami Culinary Institute.

MCI is part of Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus and was designed by Atkins North America. “A model of sustainability and urban stewardship, Miami Dade College’s eight-story Miami Culinary Institute has achieved LEED Gold certification. Atkins’ environmentally conscious approach to the building’s design included unique features such as rainwater harvesting, greywater harvesting from dishwashers, recycled solid composting for the institute’s vegetable gardens, low-consumption plumbing fixtures, and numerous recycled-content material selections—including high-end finishes.”

In addition to programs for degree-seeking MDC students and professional development courses for those in the industry, MCI also offers a wide variety of classes for anyone interested in improving their culinary skills, and that is what we did last night. Breaking into groups of four, each group prepared one course of the dinner that we ultimately enjoyed eating. With much laughter , my group learned how to prepare poached pear with champagne sabayon. Between separating the egg yolks with our hands and having a whisking race to finish the sauce, hilarity was the prime ingredient. (Did I mention we were sipping on champagne?)

With lessons and supervision provided by the ever-patient Chef Travis Jameson Starwalt, we also learned how MCI sources much of their food locally (within 350 miles), as well as minimizing, recycling and/or composting the waste. Many of the greens are grown in MCI’s on-site garden, while the delicious pork tenderloins came from Niman Ranch – described by Chef Travis as “a farm co-op that is raising and treating their animals with the utmost care and respect!”

The Miami Culinary Institute is also home to Tuyo, an award winning fusion restaurant on the top floor overlooking downtown Miami and the bay. Tuyo’ vision statement includes “embracing farm-to-table and sustainability practices that safeguard the health of the people and the planet.”

From the design of the structure to its on-going operation; from the Tuyo restaurant to the chefs teaching classes – the passion driving those involved with the Miami Culinary Institute was neatly expressed by Chef Travis when he told me, “It’s up to our generation to lead the charge in the war against commercialization and convenience.”