Five Reasons to Compost in Miami-Dade


1. Composting is easy! As easy as throwing away your garbage, in fact. Simply separate compostable garbage into a separate bin.

2. Composting is saves money! Compost doesn’t require any fancy equipment, but it will save you money by reducing what you spend for fertilizers and potting soils.

3. Composting is good for your garden! Gardens that are composted produce more fruits, vegetables and flowers; and compost contains no petroleum products the way most commercial fertilizers do.

4. Composting is good for the planet! The EPA estimates that about 25% of your household waste is yard trimmings, vegetable scraps and other compostable items. Composting helps reduce our local landfills and emissions from the incinerator plants.

5. Composting is FREE! Compost workshops are being offered by Miami-Dade County, in cooperation with the University of Florida, and taught by a Master Gardener.

Learn how to start and maintain a compost pile to turn your yard waste and food scraps into rich soil this Saturday, February 5th, from 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. at the Coral Gables Farmers Market located at 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables, Florida 33134. For more information, contact Lize Luna at 305-248-3311 ext. 242 or Barbara McAdam at ext. 245 or email Barbara at
A rain barrel workshop immediately follows from 1:00 – 2:00. The rain barrel workshop is free, plus Miami-Dade residents will have an opportunity to purchase a rain barrel for $40. The event also includes a showerhead and light bulb exchange courtesy of Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department. For more information, contact Lize Luna at 305-248-3311 ext. 242 or Barbara McAdam at ext. 245 or email Barbara at

And for more information about real estate and environmental issues in Miami-Dade, visit my web page at

The Green Giant – Can a 10,000 Square Foot Home Be “Green”?

Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL - LEED Platinum
2020 Alton Road, Miami Beach – LEED Platinum

There is a green controversy brewing in Berkeley, California. Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Development Corp and an international philanthropist, wants  to build a 10,000-square-foot house complete with a 10-car garage. Under Berkeley’s current green point system the house would qualify for Berkeley’s “green” designation despite its size, and that has neighbors and local environmentalists upset.

According to the New York Times: Berkeley’s green point system was developed by a nonprofit group called Built It Green and adopted by the city government. Items on the checklist include: tightly seal the air barrier between the garage and living area; insulate hot water pipes; use Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood; use paint low in volatile organic compounds. About 70 local governments in California have ordinances based on the Build It Green checklist, according to Bruce Mast, an executive of the organization.
The article also correctly notes that the United States Green Building Council’s LEED program does reduce points for larger than average homes. Those points must then be regained with additional “green” features and building practices in order to achieve a LEED designation.

Lighthouse Point, FL - LEED Silver
Lighthouse Point, FL – LEED Silver
While virtually everyone agrees that smaller footprint homes are better for our environment, not everyone is going to give up their large luxury homes – nor do I think they should have to. Those who can afford to build a luxury home are also the people who can best afford to include cutting edge “green” materials and techniques, which will in turn benefit all green building at all price levels. We should continue to encourage this type of “green” investment with a sensible point system like the LEED program that addresses the size of the home as well as the sustainability of its design.

Neighbors Susan and Chuck Fadley were quoted in the article as saying that “green building begins with using ‘just enough’ and preserving what already exists. Clearly the idea of ‘just enough’ is not part of the design concept.”  And as an ideal, I agree. But in our idealism, we must not make this or any aspect of sustainable living seem so austere that its achievement feels like a punishment. A luxury home that is also a genuinely “green” home should be showcased because it allows the general public to see that “green building” doesn’t just mean living in a yurt anymore.

Melanie Dawn Molina Wood is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate LLC and a member of the US Green Building Council – South Florida Chapter. She is a designated Eco-Broker and holds her level one Green Leadership (GCREP-GL) certificate among many other certifications and awards.

Realtors(R) Help Consumers Understand the Value of Green

As a member of the US Green Building Council and one of the few designated Eco-Brokers in the South Florida area, I have been an advocate for “green building” for many years. And while I wear my “tree-hugger” label proudly, for most of us our first priorities when buying a home or leasing an office space are cost and comfort. For too many years, “green building” was viewed as an expensive, slightly quirky, niche market. I am glad to see the growing awareness that green saves green.

Increasingly, green building practices are associated with cutting energy costs and saving money, and a growing number of home buyers are looking for these features. According to the 2010 National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Profile, 88 percent of recent home buyers considered a home’s heating and cooling costs important in their home search.

“Many of today’s consumers want homes and communities that are sensitive to the larger environment, but in today’s economy, they’re also cost-conscious, and energy-efficient home features appeal to these buyers,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz. “As green building issues become more important to buyers, sellers and businesses, more and more Realtors® are bringing value to the real estate transaction by developing green business practices.”

Realtors(R) Help Consumers Understand the Value of Green

Park(ing) Day in Coconut Grove This Friday

The US Green Building Council’s South Florida Chapter Emerging Professionals will be participating in this Friday’s “Park(ing) Day,” a worldwide event that inspires city dwellers everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks.  Started in 2005, Park(ing) Day is a way to draw attention to the need for more public parks in urban areas. This year’s local event is scheduled to take place between 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. along McFarlane Road in Coconut Grove. Donations and support will be provided by Pie Studio, Home Depot, AFH, the City of Miami, Coconut Grove community organizers, the NET, the BID and the Miami Parking Authority. The MPA has designated 10 metered parking spaces along McFarlane Road which will be transformed into temporary urban parks for the day. Commissioners Sarnoff and Suarez are scheduled to appear, and the public is invited to attend.

USGBC Emerging Professionalsare the energetic and dynamic leaders of tomorrow’s green building movement. The program is geared toward individuals out of school and under 30, but does not exclude anyone who may be interested. USGBC Emerging Professionals seek to engage all those who are interested in learning about and advocating for sustainable building practices. So who are Emerging Professionals? Certainly many are young architects and engineers, but they also include young lawyers, education and healthcare professionals, sustainability consultants, and anyone else interested in the future of green building.”

News From Sebastian Eilert Architecture, Inc

Every month I look forward to reading Sebastian Eilert’s newletter to keep up to date on his latest LEED projects in South Florida. Sebastian, a local architect with international training and experience, is dedicated to sustainable architecture. From his website:

With S.E.A. as part of your project team, spaces will be better, healthier and have economic saving, in energy, water, and resources, which also reduce the burden on this planet. S.E.A. helps to set yourself apart as a leader in your community and to know that you are doing the right thing!

Tetris-1And this month from his newsletter:

Eurohabitat “Living Tetris” project has gone through some changes since its first submittal for permit and is ready to move forward. The now smaller house still features cutting edge design including a unique custom pool and native as well as regionally appropriate landscaping designed by Southern Blossoms. Some of the more hidden features include a manifold plumbing system, high efficient water fixtures and appliances and LED lighting. The house is PV ready. The team and the Village are excited to see the first LEED certified home for the Village of Pinecrest start construction soon.


Nearing construction completion is the Glantz remodel at The Balmoral in Bal Harbour. The renovation of a spectacular corner unit added a bedroom and updated the kitchen and master suite. Lookout for a picture of the month from this amazing project in a future newsletter.

The GSA Trades Shop Facility, the first LEED Silver certified project for Miami Dade County. We are eagerly awaiting comments from the USGBC.


Design on the Pinecrest Gardens lower Bathroom project has been completed and SEA has moved to the construction document phase detailing the structure and the water filter system that will be installed instead of traditional sewer system.


SEA is proud to team up with New Orleans based FuturProof. The LEED H M+M LEED Homes residence by Upstairs Studio in Coconut Grove has been awarded the AIA award and is already a Energy Star home. The LEED certification is eagerly awaited by the team.

‘News From Sebastian Eilert Architecture, Inc’

Hey Miami Students! Get Your Green On – Enter Miami-Dade’s video contest

April is Water Conservation Month in Florida and Miami-Dade County wants you to “Get Your Green On!” The contest is open to all Miami-Dade County high school students. Create an original Public Service Announcement showcasing environmentally sustainable activities and your commercial could air at movie theaters across the County.

Every student who enters will receive a free “Use Less” T-shirt and the winning entry will be played in movie theaters across the county. Videos should be 24 seconds in length and feature only original material. Topics and ideas for your video can be found at All videos will be posted on YouTube for a one week period from noon on May 10th to noon on May 17th. During this period, the top ten videos with the most views will go on to be judged by the panel. After review of the videos, the winner will be announced. From Miami-Dade County:

All entries must be submitted no later than April 30, 2010. Visit for entry forms and details.

The judging panel will consist of three members, with a mixture of professionals with backgrounds in sustainable living, design and/or television production. The judges will meet for a one day period to review the entries. Using the Video Judging Form, each judge will evaluate the posters on the following criteria:

Sustainable Living Message (50 points) – Does the video convey the theme’s message clearly and link to the sustainable living subject?

Visual Effectiveness (30 points) – How does the video relay the message and does it require you to take action? Will you remember the video next year? Is it creative?

Universal Appeal (10 points) – Regardless of age, language or educational level, everyone should be able to understand the message. Does it appeal to the general population or a large audience?

Originality (10 points) – Artistic Expression.

Come on Miami… Get Your Green On!

Melanie Dawn Molina Wood, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate LLC, is a member of the US Green Building Council – South Florida Chapter and a designated Eco-Broker. She also holds her level one Green Leadership (GCREP-GL) certificate among many other certifications and awards. For more information about Miami real estate, call/text Melanie Dawn at 305-801-3133 or visit her website at

The Art of Sustainable Luxury

“The Art of Sustainable Luxury” was how the event was billed and on March 25th I was privileged to tour the first LEED for Homes Silver Certified Luxury Residence in Miami-Dade County. What this magnificent 5200 square foot waterfront home shows is that luxury does not need to be sacrificed to low-impact sustainable living.

LEED Silver Home 400x300When the owners first discovered the land parcel for their future home many years ago, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System) for Homes was still being developed. But by the time they acquired the property, the owners knew they wanted to integrate energy efficiency and environmentally sound elements into their home’s striking design. To help them achieve their goal, they partnered with KZ Architecture; Bell-Aqui, Inc landscape architects; Arbab Engineering, Inc; LNI Engineering; Gary G. Bloom PE civil engineer; and Alejandro Vargas at Visual Lighting. And to supervise the various certifications, the team brought in Gary Shlifer of Green Building Florida; Banks Clark of Environment, Safety and Health LC; and Eric Martin of Florida Solar Energy Center.

In addition to creating a home of breath-taking beauty, the team achieved an impressive set of green certifications:

• LEED for Homes Silver with 78 points
• FGBC Green Home Standard Gold 184 Points
• Energy Star for Homes HERS 72
• Florida Yards & Neighborhoods 226 Points

One of my favorite features of the home is the rainwater harvesting system with a 2500 gallon cistern located under the house and 83% of the roof area dedicated to rainwater capture. The system provides approximately 80% of their annual irrigation needs. Ninety two percent of the home’s finishes (paints, adhesives, etc) were no VOC (Volatile organic compounds) and the home was built with a wood-free insect resistant structure. In Florida, with our termites, carpenter ants and humidity, wood-free construction seems like such an obvious choice, doesn’t it?

The list of sustainable elements incorporated into this home was several pages long and included everything from dual-flush toilets to an exterior ceramic coating that insulates the home the way ceramic tiles insulates the space shuttle for re-entry. With all of the amazing attention to detail, the homeowners will realize almost 30% improved energy efficiency over similar new construction homes built to Florida Code in the same time period. In addition, they diverted 88% of the construction waste away from our landfills. Without a doubt, this home provides a model for what other luxury home developers and owners can accomplish.

For more information and photos of the home, visit KZ Architecture online. And for more information about Miami real estate, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 305-801-3133 or visit my website at

Melanie Dawn Molina Wood, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate LLC, is a proud member of the US Green Building Council – South Florida Chapter and a designated Eco-Broker. She also holds her level one Green Leadership (GCREP-GL) certificate among many other certifications and awards.