Contracts for Sustainable Construction Projects are Unique

600 Brickell in Miami, certified LEED Platinum

Interesting article from Mark Stempler in the March 9 issue of the Daily Business Review. Noting that “sustainable building is booming in Florida”, he discusses some of the unique considerations that should be addressed in the contract for these types of ventures.

Contracts for sustainable projects, however, are often not tailored to address the many issues and nuances that can appear with these types of projects. Whether the project is a new construction or renovations or retrofitting, a sustainability-focused contract is the best way to prevent problems later on.

The contract should be as specific about the project’s green goal

Simply using terms like green building, sustainable building or high-performing building are not enough because it is unclear what the precise goal is. For example, if a project is aimed at reducing a building’s electricity costs by a certain percentage range, that goal should be identified in the contract. In addition, an owner may require a third-party green rating certification like LEED. Which rating system and which level within that system is sought to be achieved should be identified so everyone knows what is expected.

Alternatives to Performance Guarantees

Mark outlines why project guarantees can be problematic in a sustainable building project, and suggests performance bonuses as a possible alternative.

Mark J. Stempler, Becker & Poliakoff, West Palm Beach (photo courtesy: Daily Business Review)

An alternative to a guaranty is a performance bonus or bonuses based on the certification or performance levels achieved. In other words, a contract will describe a base fee for services on the project and then allow for additional compensation depending on level of certification the building gets or based on the level of performance of the building after occupancy.

The “green” building industry is growing rapidly.

In 2016, the Sunshine State ranked fourth in the number of LEED certified projects in the U.S. at 204, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Florida now is home to more than 1,400 LEED-certified projects. LEED, short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the world’s most widely used sustainable or green building rating system.

With that kind of growth, Mark’s recommendations are important and timely. To read more, here is a link to the Daily Business Review article, “Potential for Twists and Turns in Contracts for Sustainable Building”


Mark J. Stempler is a shareholder with Becker & Poliakoff in West Palm Beach. He is board-certified in construction law and is certified as a LEED green associate, and focuses his practice in the areas of construction law, government law and bid protests, and civil litigation. He may be reached at mstempler@bplegal.com.


MelanieDawn
MelanieDawn
Melanie Dawn Molina Wood is a Miami native currently living in the historic downtown district. She has earned her LEED Green Associate accreditation, the NAR GREEN designation, and an Eco-broker credential. She is also a proud member of the US Green Building Council – South Florida Chapter, and a member of the Sierra Club. For more information about sustainability in Miami, or to connect with a real estate agent anywhere in the world, contact Melanie Dawn by text/phone at 305.801.3133, or by email at MelanieinMiami@gmail.com.

Meet GaïaMa Miami

There is a very special green-certified home on the market in Miami – GaïaMa in Biscayne Park.

More than just a green home, GaïaMa integrates the very best smart house technology into a low-impact, sustainable, & healthy home. Modern open floor plan with high ceilings, lots of natural light, polished concrete floors in the living areas & warm wood (FSC-certified) in the bedrooms. Kitchen features high-efficiency appliances, built-in breakfast counter & a living wall. GaïaMa is certified LEED Platinum with low-e, impact resistant windows, solar-energy system, air & water filtration & so much more.

Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several areas that address sustainability issues. Based on the number of points achieved, a project then receives one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum

Designed and built by developer Urbaneco, GaïaMa achieved LEED Platinum BD+C: Homes (v2008) with 114.5 points in June 2015. Buildings can qualify for one of four levels of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification:

  • Certified: 40–49 points
  • Silver: 50-59 points
  • Gold: 60-79 points
  • Platinum: 80 points and above

GaïaMa is in the top 2% energy efficient homes in the country, and has a negative HERS score of -4. This means that, on average, GaïaMa produces more energy that it uses. How?

Freedom from the Electric Bill

To achieve its impressive Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score, GaïaMa starts with a cutting edge technology called Insulating Concrete Form (ICF). ICF is a system of interlocking modular units that are dry-stacked then filled with concrete. The resulting walls are energy efficient, more resistant to hurricanes and tornadoes than standard CBS construction, and fire resistant. ICF construction also improves indoor air quality and sound absorption.

The house also features low-E, double-paned, impact resistant exterior glass doors and windows throughout. “Low-E”, or low-emissivity, refers to a coating applied to the glass that minimizes “the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light that can pass through glass without compromising the amount of visible light that is transmitted.” In other words, the doors and windows of GaïaMa dramatically reduce the amount of heat coming into the house while allowing maximum sunlight, thus reducing energy use by A/C and interior lighting.

Then there is the net-metered photovoltaic (solar panel) system, which even includes a small battery storage pack as back-up. The solar energy system is connected to the the utility grid, sending excess electrical power to the utility company but also able to draw from FPL as needed.  GaïaMa’s solar energy system is rated to provide over 90% of the electricity needed to run the home; and indeed routinely exceeds 100% resulting in the HERS rating of -4.

Electricity use is further reduced with very high efficiency appliances, including a 20 SEER Trane HVAC (A/C) system, LED lighting throughout, and Energy Star kitchen appliances.

The exceptional energy efficiency of GaïaMa is just a small part of the story. For more information about the edible landscaping, indoor air quality features, water management systems and everything else that makes GaïaMa such a healthy and sustainable home, visit GaiaMaMiami.com. To request a private tour of GaïaMa, click here to make an appointment with Melanie Dawn.


Melanie Dawn Molina Wood is a licensed Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. She has earned her LEED Green Associate accreditation, the NAR GREEN designation, and an Eco-broker credential. She is also a proud member of the US Green Building Council – South Florida Chapter, and a member of the Sierra Club. For more information about sustainability in Miami, or to connect with a real estate agent anywhere in the world, contact Melanie Dawn by text/phone at 305.801.3133, or by email at MelanieinMiami@gmail.com.

National Green Week 2017

National Green Week kicks off this week and runs through the end of April. Yes, I know that’s more than a week. The idea behind this annual campaign from the Green Education Foundation is to encourage schools to devote (at least) one week during this period to sustainability topics.

“By participating in National Green Week, students will learn that simple decisions such as the selection of waste-free snacks and drinks can combat monumental environmental problems,” says Victoria Waters, President and Founder, Green Education Foundation. “Children are in the best position to impact the future of our environment by developing green behaviors that become lifelong habits,” adds Waters.

The national non-profit organization offers educators free K-12 sustainability activities, videos, lessons and projects in six broad “sustainability themes”; and the lesson plans are arranged by subject and by grade level.

I Ride Green

The central goal of I Ride Green is to inspire families and individuals to develop lifelong habits for sustainable transportation and eco-travel that promote the health of the environment, the economy, and people. I Ride Green invites participants to start easy-to-adopt green habits that can lead to lifelong healthy behaviors.

Green Energy Challenge

The Green Energy Challenge is an academic year-long program that calls on schools to improve their energy efficiency through simple changes in habit. Participation includes free tools to teach and encourage behavior change, such as curricula, audits, and classroom activities. In 2011, over 250,000 students took on the role of energy auditors in their schools and homes and implemented changes that resulted in thousands of dollars in energy cost savings within just a few months.

Green Thumb Challenge

The Green Thumb Challenge connects children with nature through gardening while providing teachers the curriculum to incorporate sustainable gardening as a teaching tool in the classroom. The “turn-key” garden plan provides participants with beginner-friendly resources to plant gardens of any size, as well as fun activities and standards-based lessons.

Sustainable Water Challenge

The Sustainable Water Challenge aims to educate schools and groups on the current issues in water sustainability and the steps we need to take to help conserve Earth’s most precious resource. Through GEF’s resources, K-12 students and educators will learn the basic properties of water, water pollution and depletion, as well as methods for water conservation. The Sustainable Water Challenge provides information on a broad range of water topics for all grade levels. As students and educators become more aware and knowledgeable of the challenges facing Earth’s water supply, we can work together and do our part to reduce water consumption.

Waste Reduction Challenge

This program empowers students to be leaders of their own waste reduction campaign in their school or community. Schools chose any week between the first week in February through Earth Day to be their Green Week. During this time, schools adopt sustainability curriculum and participate in GEF eco-challenge programs. In 2011, over five million students mobilized to reduce waste, energy and water and green their school.

Green Building Program

The GEF Green Building Program educates K-12 students on green building attributes and benefits, and provides them with the strategies to take steps toward improving environmental inefficiencies within their own school building. Through lessons, audits, and activities students will cover topics including water and energy efficiency and environmental quality as they relate to building construction, operation and maintenance.

The Green Education Foundation worked with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools, numerous LEED accredited professionals and other experts in educational and sustainability fields to create the sustainability education materials. And while the National Green Week Challenge is GEF’s best known program, they have created an online community for teachers to provide feedback, share experiences, and even upload their own materials. If you are, or know, a teacher interested in sustainability, I highly recommend visiting the Green Education Foundation’s website, and participating in the National Green Week challenge.

Sustainable Home Developer Wins Builders Association of South Florida Platinum Award for Single Family Homes

Beatriz Baldan & George DeArmas accept the Platinum Award for The Sanctuary at Cutler Bay Project by 3Ci, Inc (photo courtesy: 3Ci, Inc)

Sanctuary at Cutler Bay, a LEED registered community by developer Sustainable 3Ci, Inc, was awarded the “2016 Florida’s Best” Platinum for Single Family Homes by the Builders’ Association of South Florida at last week’s signature event in Orlando.

Sanctuary at Cutler Bay homes are self-sustained, self-reliant homes, featuring water reclamation systems, energy efficient appliances, and are solar- powered for the future… 3Ci’s mission is to develop and construct environmentally sustainable homes offered to the consumer at an affordable price. These elegant, Key West style homes will dramatically reduce the amount of pollutants and reliance on fossil fuels that go into building and operating a traditionally constructed home. Their environmentally friendly homes have the added benefit of drastically reducing monthly utility bills. The HERS Index estimates the monthly utility bills will average only $71 dollars per month.

“I think this award, which we are grateful to receive, shows the beauty of our design and connectivity to the natural surroundings, located right next to the mangroves of Biscayne Bay. Energy efficiency resonates today,” says George de Armas, Co-Founder, 3Ci, Inc.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Beatriz and George for the past few years, and have been tremendously impressed with their commitment to sustainability, environmental issues, and an overall healthier future for Miami. One example, that I hope George does not mind me sharing, is his hobby of growing mangrove seedlings on his porch as part of the ongoing Old Cutler Bay habitat restoration efforts.

In keeping with their philosophy, Sanctuary at Cutler Bay homes will be as beautiful as they are “green”. The 4 bedroom, 3 bath houses will feature over 2600 sq.ft. of interior living area with high ceilings, floating staircases, and open sunny floor plans. The gourmet kitchens will include Energy Star appliances, LEED certified countertops, and Low VOC – Formaldehyde free cabinets.

The exterior details- terraces, walkways, lighting, and landscaping, are designed with the same attention to detail. Our rain water collection system will provide all the water needed to maintain the lawns, shrubbery and plants. All efficiencies are provided with a conscious focus to reduce the impact on the environment while reducing the cost of energy and maintenance.

If you would like to visit the developer’s sales office for more information about Sanctuary at Cutler Bay, let me know! I will be very happy to introduce you to Beatriz and George, and to their amazing award-winning homes.

Miami Realtor® Achieves National Association of Realtors® Green Designation

Miami, FL December 12, 2016 – Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is pleased to announce that Melanie Dawn Molina Wood recently earned her NAR GREEN designation, the only green real estate professional designation recognized by the National Association of Realtors. She joins an elite group of just 16 Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate agents in Florida (and the only one in Miami-Dade County) to achieve this designation.

Molina Wood achieved this prestigious designation after completing topic-specific course work designed specifically for REALTORS®. The designation courses were created in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of industry experts from across the country; ensuring designees gain comprehensive knowledge of green homes and issues of resource-efficiency in relation to real estate and home owners.

Melanie Dawn Molina Wood, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate

More specifically, Molina Wood was trained in understanding what makes a property green, helping clients evaluate the cost/benefits of resource-efficient features and practices, distinguishing between industry rating and classification systems, listing and marketing green homes and buildings, discussing the financial grants and incentives available to homeowners, and understanding how buyer and seller preferences may be inspired by resource-efficiency.

“By earning the designation, Melanie Dawn has made the commitment to provide the highest level of professional real estate service to her customers. Builder and consumer adoption of sustainability is rapidly growing and Melanie Dawn is uniquely positioned to guide her clients interested in a more sustainable home buying process,” said Dianne Regalado Kammerer, branch manager of the Brickell and Key Biscayne offices.

“Living green is about making healthy choices that are also easy on your wallet. NAR Green Designees have the necessary resources and relationships to effectively work with you to find your next home or assess your next green project.” said Marc Gould, Vice President of NAR’s Green Designation. NAR’s Green Designation was developed in response to growing consumer awareness of the benefits of resource-efficient homes and buildings. The designation helps consumers understand the positive impact of home performance and identify REALTORS® who can help them realize their green real estate and lifestyle goals.

Molina Wood is also an accredited LEED Green Associate and has her Eco-Broker certification. For more information about Melanie Dawn Molina Wood, please visit www.MelanieinMiami.com or e-mail MelanieinMiami@gmail.com.

New Miami Beach Law Requires LEED Gold for New Buildings

Effective April 1st, the City of Miami Beach is requiring all new construction 7,000 square feet or more to meet or exceed LEED Gold standards… or pay an impact pay a fee equal to 5 percent of the construction costs. The idea is to force builders to address – one way or the other – the very real effects of climate change already being felt on Miami Beach.

South Beach flooding (photo courtesy:  Wikimedia Commons)
South Beach flooding (photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

As Miami Herald columnist Joey Flechas notes, Miami Beach will benefit whether the developers choose to build ‘green’ or to pay the fee:

That’s a big chunk of money. If the city had been collecting that fee for the last six years, it would have about $60 million to spend on green projects like water quality monitoring, cleanup of contamination and charging stations for electric vehicles.

Betsy Wheaton, the city’s environment and sustainability director, told the Miami Herald the city wants to build a fund specifically for sustainability projects like building permeable pavements and improving the Beach’s tree canopy. As the city continues an ambitious, $400 million anti-flooding pump program to combat rising tides, she also envisions incorporating green elements, like reintroduction of mangroves, into seawall projects for stemming sea level rise.

The City of Miami currently requires all new development of more than 50,000 square feet to be built to LEED Silver standards, while Miami-Dade County requires all new county buildings to obtain LEED Silver certification.

Coral Gables Museum Receives Grant to Expand Green City Program

Coral Gables Museum,  285 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon AV, Coral Gables, FL

The Coral Gables Museum announced that it “has received a $200,000 grant from the State of Florida’s Department of Education to expand its Green City Program and provide it at no cost to all K-12 students in Miami-Dade County.”

The Green City Program is dedicated to the practice and purpose of teaching future generations about designing communities with the principles of environmental sustainability. It introduces students to important disciplines such as architecture, landscape architecture, design, urban planning as well as historic and environmental preservation and sustainable development.

The program curriculum explores everything from what one can do at home to decrease their carbon footprint, to how to design a LEED-certified building or a green city. Students of all ages will learn about environmentally friendly design through presentations and tours. There will also be experiential learning activities that will teach students about the relationship between the built and natural environment and will further their understanding of worldwide environmental threats and how sustainable design can be a solution to those challenges.

“The future of our planet and the cultural, environmental and social vitality of our communities depend on our youth,” said Christine Rupp, Director of the Coral Gables Museum. “Thanks to this grant, the expanded Green City Program will now be a free educational program to K-12 students in Miami, giving them the tools to make important decisions about the design and livability of their communities.”

From its beginning, the Coral Gables Museum has been has been a local green leader.  Using the principle that the greenest building is often the one already built, the Coral Gables Museum restored the historic 1939 Police and Fire Station, using the building’s original materials and the new wings achieved LEED certification. Part of the museum’s mission is to provide an “educational platform for visitors and students to learn about green design and practical solutions for a more sustainable community.” Included in their upcoming events:

  • “Effects of Everglades Restoration on Sea Level Rise Resilience in Urban Miami” panel discussion
  • “Designing the Resilient City” panel discussion
  • “Socio-ecological Vulnerability and Resilience in Miami-Dade” panel discussion
  • Dr. Harold Wanless on Rising Sea Levels
  • Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century – Exhibit

This $200,000 grant will allow the museum to hire experts to teach classes and conduct tours around the theme of “Green Cities”. Hired by the museum:

· Carmen L. Guerrero, licensed architect, Associate Professor in Practice, and Academic Coordinator of Explorations in Architecture at University of Miami, will serve as the curriculum consultant for the Green City Program.

· Kiki Mutis, who has developed environmental education programs for Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, Citizens for a Better South Florida and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, will lead native garden design activities for elementary school students.

· David Rifkind, professor at Florida International University’s College of Architecture and the Arts, will provide personal tours of his acclaimed green home to middle and high school students.

· Jaime Correa, Associate Professor in Practice at the University of Miami, will provide tours of the current exhibit Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century and provide presentations to middle and high school students on designing urban solutions for climate change and sea level rise.

If you would like to register your school for the Green City Program, please contact Dianely Cabrera or Ashley Montano at (305) 603-8067 or e-mail education@coralgablesmuseum.org.

CBRE: Miami among top cities for green commercial buildings

CBRE 400x400The South Florida Business Journal reports that “a new study by CBRE Group and Maastrict University ranked Miami ninth in the nation, with 19.4 percent of its commercial real estate certified as green.”

Miami currently has 79 buildings totaling 21 million square feet of office space that are LEED certified under one or more of the rating systems.

Patricia Nooney, LEED AP and head of investor services for CBRE Florida, is quoted in the news release, “Miami was slow to embrace green building standards relative to cities like San Francisco and Manhattan, but has caught up quickly thanks in part to good public policy and buy-in from owners and investors who realize there is growing demand from tenants for more sustainable, energy efficient space,”

It helps that Miami’s municipal building code requires all new private development over 50,000 square feet to be built to LEED Silver standards.

USGBC Inforgraphic: LEED in the World

USGBC LEED in the World infographic
LEED registered & certified projects in the world as of April 2013; courtesy USGBC

 

The U.S. Green Building Council has a new, easy to read, infographic called “LEED in the World”. It lists the number of registered and certified LEED projects internationally, along with the top 10 countries with green buildings.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and is an internationally recognized program “that provides third-party verification of green buildings. Building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for the project. Learn more about LEED, the facts, and the LEED rating systems.”

According to the USGBC’s website, building to LEED standards can:

  • Lower operating costs and increase asset value
  • Conserve energy, water and other resources
  • Be healthier and safer for occupants
  • Qualify for money-saving incentives, like tax rebates and zoning allowances

Perhaps this is why, as the USGBC notes, the “numbers show the explosive growth of the green building movement beyond North America, demonstrating the growing global consensus about the worldwide imperative to green the built environment.”