During a question and answer session at a recent industry conference, a home builder asked Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi for his thoughts about the labor
Efficient and Elegant
Behind its charming, Bermuda-inspired design, this $3.75 million residence is a carefully orchestrated combination of environmentally friendly architecture, careful site orientation and landscape planning, and interior materials selection that contribu...
|The finishes in this luxury spec home in North Naples, Fla., were selected not only for their inherent beauty but also for their durable and healthy characteristics. In the master bath, a combination of granite counters and 18-inch honed antiqued marble floor tiles are a striking combination, durable and easy to clean, and they will not off-gas objectionable fumes. Builder Mark Wilson chose a solar water heater for this home rather than a conventional electric one, further reducing the potential for pollution and lowering utility bills.|
There is a lot more to this elegant spec home, built in North Naples, Fla., by London Bay Homes, than just a pretty façade. Behind its charming, Bermuda-inspired design, this $3.75 million residence is a carefully orchestrated combination of environmentally friendly architecture, careful site orientation and landscape planning, and interior materials selection that contributes to an overall healthier living environment indoors and increased energy efficiency for its owners.
"I have attended lots of award ceremonies recognizing builders for their green building and energy-efficient practices, but I noticed that these projects were always in the lower price points for residential construction," builder Mark Wilson says. "For this project, I took the challenge to find out if it was possible to design a luxury home for my market, with all the features my buyers are looking for, and still have it classified as green."
This 4,642-square-foot home's inventory of amenities, combined with the impressive list of certifications it has earned, demonstrates that Wilson met his goal for this project - finding the perfect balance between a luxury lifestyle and an environmentally friendly residential design, indoors and out. Dream Home 2003 is Energy Star-rated, has been certified by the Florida Green Building Coalition, has been recognized by the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program for having a "Florida-friendly" yard and also has been certified by Florida Power & Light as a BuildSmart home for its energy efficiency.
Wilson says the creation of this green beauty was a collaborative effort requiring a new way of looking at luxury housing by not just the builder but also the entire design team, including the developer, architect, interior designer and even the landscape planner. The home was constructed as a part of Home & Condo magazine's Dream Home program, which highlights homes that reflect Florida's upscale lifestyle.
"We decided we would take a robust stance in green building and educate ourselves on what exactly was involved by seeking out the right people for advice," Wilson says.
|An interior location and the side-loading, three-car garage buffer the kitchen from the afternoon sun. The kitchen features granite countertops, custom cabinetry constructed of 3/4-inch maple plywood and travertine flooring.|
He enlisted the help of Jennifer Languell of ConstructGreen, a Florida-based consulting firm that focuses on helping those in the real estate, design and construction industries realize the benefits of applying the principles of sustainability to their projects. Languell holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering, specializing in sustainable construction, and is an award-winning author who has developed a comprehensive guide for green residential construction.
Languell says she is not a "conventional tree-hugging environmentalist" but instead prefers to present builders with the practical benefits of green building.
"We take the time to explain to builders exactly what building green means for them and how it can offer marketability for their product that they have not seen, all without impacting their profit," she says. "If there is a better way to do things and it does not significantly affect their costs, then why not do it? This approach will really differentiate you in the marketplace."
|Outside, the home features a low-maintenance exterior finish of 5/8-inch smooth sand stucco with a rustic flat shake cement tile roof.|
Languell says a luxury home builder should focus on the "healthy living" element of green building to capture the attention of this discriminating market. This includes using natural products throughout the home's interior, choosing low-VOC paints and products, and paying careful attention to sizing the HVAC system to prevent mold and mildew. In Florida, dehumidification is another critical issue, she says.
"We recognize that energy efficiency is not necessarily a high priority for the typical luxury home buyer," Languell says. "Instead, we approach this market from an indoor health standpoint because everybody cares about their health."
Wilson embraced these concepts and says the four areas that were high-priority considerations for this home were "creating a healthy, nontoxic indoor living environment, minimizing resource depletion, maximizing use of renewable resources, and making sure it was all cost-effective and allowed us to still build the highest-quality home.
|Columns define the boundaries of the formal dining room without limiting access to the amenities that make this space so entertaining-friendly. These include a walk-in wine room, a butler's pantry and an adjoining 800-square-foot Feng Shui meditation garden with a water feature. Paints and wall coverings were selected for their low-VOC characteristics.|
"Where you can demonstrate to your buyers that green building can still offer them terrific design appeal, still meet their luxury quotient and they will not have to sacrifice any of the amenities they expect, then they think the idea is terrific. The fact that it is green just adds a bonus for them."
This home includes a solar water heater, a high-efficiency air-conditioning system and energy-efficient appliances. In addition, the interior wall structures, steel studs and synthetic gypsum drywall are made of recycled-content materials. Finishes were selected not only for their beauty and drama but also for their durable and healthy characteristics.
The home is in The Estates at TwinEagles, a low-density, master-planned community in North Naples designated as a Build Green community under the University of Florida's Build Green program, which is designed to foster environmentally sustainable and healthy building, housing and landscaping practices.
The three-bedroom, 4 1/2-bath home is on a 1.15-acre site overlooking the community's championship golf course and features lake and fairway views as well as an additional 2,063 square feet of outdoor living space, including a pool and spa. It was completed in December 2002.
Style of Home | Bermuda
Location | North Naples, Fla.
Total Square Footage | 4,642 (air-conditioned), 6,705 (total)
Hard Costs | $400 per square foot (excluding land)
Estimated Market Value | $3.75 million
Builder | London Bay Homes, North Naples
Architect | Randall E. Stofft Architects, Naples, Fla.
Developer | The Bonita Bay Group, Bonita Springs, Fla.
Interior Designer | Romanza Interior Design, Naples
Landscape Architect | SDG Landscape Architects Inc., Naples
Home Automation | AVL Pro Inc., Naples
Luxury spec-built residence
Major Products Used | Appliances: Sub-Zero, Asko, Wolf, KitchenAid | Countertops: granite | Cabinetry: custom by Joliet Cabinetry | Plumbing Fixtures: Kohler | Doors: Weather Shield (French doors) | Home Controls & Automation: LiteTouch | Lighting: Minka | Spray-in-Place Expanding Foam: Icynene | Pressure-Injected Foam: Tailored Foam | Rigid Foam Insulation: Tough-R | Windows: Weather Shield | Dehumidification System: Ultra-Aire | Air-Filtration System: Honeywell | Air-Conditioning System: Carrier | Exhaust Fans: Broan | Exterior: stucco by Smith Plastering | Roofing: Pioneer
|A glass wall made up of French doors in the adjoining breakfast nook keeps the entire space bright and cheerful without subjecting it to direct sunlight and also provides access to the outdoor living room.|
A home's orientation plays a part in how energy-efficient it is. To learn more about this, read "The Right Direction".
|Outdoors, Wilson uses native plants and trees for softscaping, a means of providing shade for rooms exposed to direct sunlight. Indoors, because builders now can build super-tight homes, he stresses that it is critical to eliminate excess humidity to prevent mold growth.|
Builder Mark Wilson used a variety of methods to control the humidity in this home, starting with the elimination of soffit vents in the exterior roof overhangs. And while the home is constructed of traditional materials, including a wood truss roof and concrete masonry units for the walls, innovative foam insulation products were used to augment the structural elements. These included spray-in-place expanding foam insulation that functions as a complete air and moisture barrier under the roof structure.
Pressure-injected foam was used to insulate the interior cavities in the concrete block used for the wall construction, and rigid foam was attached to the interior of the block wall to provide additional wall insulation.
While sealing the house prevents humidity infiltration from the outdoors, it also is important to dehumidify the indoor air. This home features a whole-house system that pressurizes the interior with dehumidified air. Wilson says this prevents humid outdoor air from infiltrating the house and provides the ventilation recommended by health experts to prevent "sick building" syndrome.
The home also has a sophisticated air-filtration system that uses HEPA filters and an ultraviolet light treatment system within the air-handling ductwork to remove dust and kill bacteria and mold spores.
All these things can add $15,000 to the cost of a 5,000-square-foot home, Wilson says. "But my approach is, 'For your comfort, to reduce allergies and mold growth and to create a better indoor environment for you and your family, is this worth it?' They seem to think so."