Wednesday, March 23, 2011

sustainability and diversity

image courtesy of the Miami Herald
Tin Box isn't the only attempt at sustainable living in South Florida. It's worth taking a moment to look at this house by Albert Harum-Alvarez.

Albert and his wife built a house that uses very different strategies for reducing energy and resource consumption. They use thick walls - including some interior walls - to moderate the temperature swings, and they are more committed to cross ventilation than we are. They also employ a composting toilet that provides organic fertilizer for their gardens. It's a very good house.

Here's Albert's response to our post on Fukushima:

Peak use is indeed when the sun shines, except for the HIGHEST ever peaks which occurred last winter one COLD morning. That's why we think thermal mass is so critical here in South Florida. It works both summer and winter, day and night, and costs only for the solid concrete that also strengthens our house against hurricanes.

Our house's FPL bill last month was $38 for a family of five living comfortably with a pool—and that was after my dear son left the A/C on four four days with the windows open! No 5k solar PV array yet. But when we add it, our bill should stay below zero much of the year.

FPL helped with our project, and when we asked them why they were helping with a project that would LOSE them money on our bill, they said, and I quote: "If everyone built like this, we'd never need to build another power plant."

Here are some links on the houseThere's a tour this Saturday at 4. Email for more info!

The Harum-Alvarez House shows that sustainability has many strategies, and no exclusive aesthetic.

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