Miami Residents Take ’Green’ Building into Their Own Hands

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor The current U.S. focus on green building has recently been highlighted by the efforts of several Miami residents and students. A couple from Coconut Grove, for example, intend to lower utility bills by creating their own [...]

The current U.S. focus on green building has recently been highlighted by the efforts of several Miami residents and students. A couple from Coconut Grove, for example, intend to lower utility bills by creating their own environmentally friendly dream home. In an attempt to create a house that would fully adapt to their green lifestyle, Randall and Laurenne Moreland are designing their 3,600 square-foot dream home in Coconut Grove to LEED specifications.

Randall, a principal architect at Moreland Architecture, is in charge of the technical aspects, intending for the space to serve both as home for his growing family and as an office. The structure will also serve as an example of the type of green architecture his firm can handle.

With help from his wife Laurenne, a school counselor, he designed the house to have open living spaces and a separate wing with small bedrooms for the children. Other features of his design include a rainwater harvesting system, solar panels on the roof and low overhangs to block out the sun in order to control the natural air flow and minimize the need for air conditioning.

The Morelands will break ground on their Florida Cracker-style residence—a style of woodframe home used widely in 19th century Florida—in the next eight to ten months. They will seek LEED certification.

Likewise, Miami’s Design and Architecture Senior High (DASH) is challenging the green vision of its students. The contest is sponsored by local philanthropists and requires them to imagine the art campus of the future. Their task is to sketch and decorate a dream campus and also conceptualize a welcoming landscape of lush and native trees.

The 43 DASH seniors involved in the competition have to follow strict guidelines, such as fitting the design to the vacant lot on Northeast First Court and 38 Street—owned by Miami Beach real estate developer and DASH supporter Craig Robins—and keep the design realistic, sustainable and efficient, in accordance with Miami’s tropical weather.

Although no funding for the actual building of the project exists at the time-being, the design competition sponsored by Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz and the Knight Foundation aims at exploring the possibilities the young students have to offer.