Orlando green building used in storm rebuild

Orlando green building used in storm rebuild

by Katie Mastin

The Florida Green Building Coalition's Green Home Standard uses a points program similar to LEED for Homes but with added emphasis on Florida-specific concerns like durability against termites, fires and hurricanes. "We're approaching more than 1,625 homes that have been certified," says FGBC executive director Suzanne Cook. Another program, Environments for Living, is also greening the state.

After a tree toppled by Hurricane Charlie's winds destroyed John and Pam Paré's Lake Como home in 2004, the couple decided to rebuild with the idea of creating a more durable and sustainable home. They did so by utilizing the USGBC's LEED for Homes standard. "We wanted to build it bigger, stronger and greener," Pam says. "And we had peace of mind knowing we were doing the right thing for the environment and future generations."

Finished in September 2007, the 2,825-square-foot, three-bedroom home became the first residence in Florida to receive a silver-level LEED certification and the first in Orlando to be LEED certified.

"It received a silver certification mainly because of its energy efficiency, low-maintenance landscape and resource-efficient, healthy interior," says Eric Martin, a senior research engineer at the Florida Solar Energy Center, the University of Central Florida energy research institute that verified the home's certification. Throughout Florida, only three LEED-certified residential projects have been certified, although nearly 300 single-family homes are scheduled to be built to LEED standards statewide, according to the center.

Creating a compact house that efficiently used the existing lot's space was an important factor in earning points towards certification. To to help meet their needs, the Paré's hired Atlanta's Epsten Group because of their experience with LEED commercial building standards. "I'm pleased with the way it turned out," says Dagmar Epsten, the company's president. "It has a modern touch, but it fits very well into the nneighborhood."

To maximize insulation efficiency and improve durability, the home was built using insulated concrete forms by contractor Classic Construction. Highly efficient windows able to withstand 130-mph winds and a Hardy board exterior also improve the home's durability.

Construction waste management was also an important factor towards earning LEED certification, so Classic Construction's owner Ken Ritter implemented his firm's existing waste recycling program to reduce the project's overall waste to less than 10 percent. "We see it as doing our part for the environment," Ritter says.

Inside, using stained concrete or bamboo for flooring improves the home's air quality and reduces the use of non-renewable materials. Opting for dual-flush toilets decreased the couple's need for water. Sprayed-in foam insulation in the attic, Energy Star appliances and lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and a solar-powered water heater reduce energy consumption. Although the new home is considerably larger than its 1950s-built predecessor, Pam says to date she's saved at least $50 each month in electric bills.

Even with the property's extra 325-square-foot guest house, Pam says her home's green features didn't mean breaking the bank - she considers the $200 per-square-foot construction cost relatively average for a custom designed and built home in the area. "We'll gradually reap the reward later as we won't be paying as much in energy and upkeep," Pam says. "And the LEED certification absolutely adds to the resale value should we ever decide to sell it."

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