Almost everyone by now should be familiar with the phrase LEED-certified—a program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to promote Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. With respect to residential design, a LEED-certified home accrues credits (points) based on the degree to which mindful design and sustainable performance considers region, site, non-toxic and local materials, and the implementation of systems that conserve and reuse water, manage waste, ventilate air, and promote wellness. According to the USGBC, as of August 2011, 12,690 homes have been LEED-certified and more continue to be built to meet the latest green building standards.
While Gold certification has been the ultimate goal of many builders, a new breed of architects, developers, and contractors—like the visionary team building the house at 2020 Alton Road in Miami Beach, FL—are now pursuing Platinum, the next level and highest LEED category. To qualify, this home must score at least 90 points. With high performance and efficient power-making and -saving systems, this home aspires to operate at “net zero,” meaning that it will produce as much energy as it consumes.
For the principals of The Florida Green Home Design Group—architect Ari Sklar, general contractor Robert Arkin, and developer Matt Lahn—the building of a sustainable house like 2020 Alton Road has become an aphrodisiac of sorts. Arkin is all consumed and claims to “eat, sleep and dream green.” Sklar is on a natural high over state-of-the-art advances in green design. And, Lahn confirms its uniqueness by declaring this is “more than just another job!”
It didn’t start off that way five years ago when Sklar purchased the lot with his father- in-law. They considered the “2020” address to be a good omen since there were two optometrists in the family. Their intention was to build a large luxury home on the site and turn a profit. When the recession hit, however, Sklar sat tight. He took notice of the advancements and tax incentives in building green and studied to become a LEED-Accredited Professional (AP). The wait afforded him, together with Lahn and Arkin, the opportunity to not only set a new standard of green building in Miami but impact the community in a relevant and responsible way.
Indeed, official interest in the greening of Miami Beach started in 2007 when Commissioner Michael Gongora founded the Miami Beach Sustainability Committee. “I wanted to build a dedicated committee focused on green issues and to develop a sustainability plan to guide our city for the future,” says Gongora, who serves as committee chairman. Noting the city’s motto—Blue Skies, White Sands, Green City—Commissioner Gongora hopes that 2020 Alton Road will inspire more LEED building and that the city will develop laws to assist in future pursuits.
This two-story 3,200-square-foot, 5-bedroom dwelling is situated on a 7,000-square-foot, highly visible corner lot adjacent to the star-studded North Bay neighborhood (Matt Damon is among the local residents), the Miami Beach Golf Course, and South Beach’s Lincoln Road—the shopping Mecca for the city.
With building permits just approved, all of the major elements, such as geothermal heating and cooling, fresh air intake air conditioning, solar panels, a wind turbine, and a rainwater cistern, are falling into place. One of the myths that this team hopes to dispel is that building green is much more expensive. Arkin says, “Though the upfront costs for these systems are 10-15% more, the systems and materials last much longer and require much less maintenance. They are the gifts that keep giving.” Lahn confirms that this type of home requires less maintenance and cost to run, not to mention the tax incentive for building it. Gary Shlifer, Performance Green Building Consultant and LEED AP hired for the project, says “The real question is, ‘What will it cost if we don’t build green today?'”
From the modern design to the smart technology, this Miami Beach addition to the LEED landscape is certain to reinforce the benefits, beauty, and interest in green building today. “There’s more of a market for projects that employ sustainable components than we ever imagined,” says Lahn. Realtor Tara West agrees. Having sold “green” homes in Europe, she is excited to take on her first U.S. listing with the 2020 Alton Road project. “We started to get calls as soon as the sign went up,” says West. The asking price is $1,950,000.
The project is underway now and expected to be completed in Spring 2012. A real-time video camera will be erected at the construction site, so anyone can follow the project’s advancements day-to-day. Until then, experience a virtual tour of the home below:
For more on the Florida Green Home Design Group’s 2020 Alton Road Project, click here.