Hector C. Fernandez
Continuing my column on “Trends,” we pick up where we left off and now delve inside the modern house (literally inside, as in under the hood, so to speak). Behind the scenes, or better yet, just behind the walls, things are getting sophisticated. More and more we see water reclamation in the form of cisterns or green roofs. And who on Marco wouldn’t want to save on water consumption- especially for irrigation?
HVAC systems are being split into scalable systems, such as those manufactured by Daiken, to allow for room-by-room zone controlled environments. No need to spend energy cooling or heating empty rooms.
Vented attics are gone completely, and permanently replaced with closed cell insulated attics using products like Icynene (Say hello to minimum R-42 insulated roof attics).
Lighting is unquestionably LED, with smart home lighting controls in most homes that break the 4,000 square feet barrier. Lutron is still the popular favorite.
And on the topic of smart homes, the new options are virtually endless to the point that it can make a homeowner’s head spin! Control your indoor lights, outdoor lights, pool lights, Jacuzzi, pool heater, home climate control, shades and window treatments, audio, security, etc. Do all of this from your smartphone or computer. So many options, which one is the right one for me? That is where your team of design professionals will be able to help by addressing, designing, and specifying the correct solution for your desired level of control. This is not something you want to leave up to guesswork. And don’t be fooled, there are many wireless systems out there, but reliability is…well, questionable at times. Why depend on an add-on solution after the fact, when for very little money you can put the correct system in at the same time your traditional electrical is being installed during construction? An architect will be able to best guide you and make sure that the best selection is made.
Continuing on the “smart home” and “efficiency” topics, you will even find some neat new items like a water shut off valve connected to your bathroom light switchthat ensures you never run up a water bill due to a leaky faucet or bad flapper in your toilet tank (compliments of Guard Dog Valves). They are even working on a whole home shut off valve for those of us that only enjoy Marco Island seasonally.
With FPL adopting net metering, power-generating technologies, like photo voltaic, are now very much on the rise. There are even some fringe technologies that look very promising in the future, such as bio-generators and hydrogen dry cell generators.
Oh, and believe it or not, vinyl – yes you read it correctly – vinyl windows and doors are fast becoming a must. The reason is heat transference of vinyl vs. aluminum.
The Florida Building Code, 5th edition was just recently released this past summer and the energy performance standards are…well, let’s just say, you’re getting a LEED, energy efficient home, even if you didn’t ask for it. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy Efficient Design, which is the gold (pardon the pun) standard for energy efficient and “green” buildings. This standard was developed by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council). LEED has become an adopted standard in most areas. Many of the efficiency requirements found in LEED are being integrated more and more into every new iteration of the Florida Building Code, which in itself is based on the International Building Code. So if “green” and “LEED” are important to you, make sure you hire a firm that is a USGBC member and that has LEED AP professionals working with them.
Moving to the outside again, yards are… well, let’s just say, less is definitely not more. In keeping with tropical lush fashion, thick and dense tropical foliage is the trend. A mix of indigenous plant material with high tolerance and low water needs, are mixed with tropical exotics. This allows for the use of a drip irrigation system that minimizes water consumption (remember the water cisterns I mentioned earlier?). A Zen garden tucked away never hurt anyone’s meditative state. Throw a Buddha statue in for good measure. Siddhartha never looked so at peace. Whynot use beautiful landscaping to help shade and protect your home from solar exposure? This is, yet again, another opportunity where good design and the indispensable knowledge of your architect and landscape architect will not only provide a gorgeous design, but will also incorporate good planning principals and building orientation from the onset.
Oh, and this is a personal request, please remove your screened lanais or terraces. I’ve been coming to Marco for about 35 years now and in that time the mosquito crisis has come under control. There are some mavericks out there building new homes sans the screened enclosure. Trust me, you’ll be fine.
In my next issue I will focus on some of the ongoing trends closer to home, namely Naples. I’m sure many of you have seen the super trendy white cottages popping up all around downtown Naples (Great job MHK Architects). But be warned, that trend is winding down. More on Naples, next time.
I encourage all of my fellow islanders to take a day trip over to the Magic City. Yes, it is congested, loud and fast becoming dirty, but it is fun, electrifying and full of cool, hip new trends. Plus, you can treat yourself to a good “media noche” and wash it down with “un cortadito” before you make your way back to paradise. If you do venture over, make sure not to miss a visit to the new Perez Art Museum at Museum Park, which opened last year. This really great building, designed by the world famous firm of Herzog + DeMuron, is located right next door to the American Airlines Arena (home of the HEAT, sadly LeBron-less these days).
I would also like to invite all of my readers (and fans?) to contact me and let me know of any particular topics they would like me to cover in upcoming issues.
Until then, enjoy the vibe around town and keep your eyes open for the new and elegant trends soon to hit our coast. In the meantime, if you have any questions, remember to “ask an architect.”
Hector C. Fernandez, AIA, can be reached at Infoh366@aol.com, or by calling 239-330-8124.