Archive for the 'Environmental' Category

Going Green In Your New Construction? First Step Should Be Protecting Existing Trees

Well, it finally happened.  My neighbor has sold his home on a beautiful, tree-lined, deep lot in north Pinecrest.  It is not quite an acre, but I am guessing a huge home will be going up on the site.  I hope I am wrong and that our soon-to-be-new-neighbor will appreciate all of the wildlife their back yard is home to and remodel instead of tear down and build the maximum allowed home.  Over the years that we have lived in our house, we have enjoyed seeing fox and watching  large predatory birds nest and raise their young in our neighbor’s yard.

We are lucky to live in the Village of Pinecrest, which like many cities in Miami-Dade County, has landscaping regulations that include tree preservation, but I have witnessed lushly grown lots be completely bulldozed to accommodate  homes that cover the majority of the lot.  Once built, small oaks and palm trees are planted in the front and back yards with shrubs planted around the sides.

The house below is a great example of how existing trees can be incorporated into new construction.  The house on this lot was torn down but many of the trees were kept.  They provide shade and character for the house as well as a canopy to shade the street.

New Construction With Trees

New Construction With Trees

 

FPL’s A/C Duct System Assessment Can Save You Money

In December, we had FPL come out and conduct a duct test on our air conditioning system.  We found out that our air conditioning was extremely inefficient and that we had some major duct leaks.  We had our a/c replaced and our FPL bill went from over $300 per month to just under $200.  We figure the savings on our electric bill will pay for the a/c in about a year and a half.  We just had our duct work replaced and the house is so much cooler.  I have a feeling our bill is going to be even lower in the next couple of months.

Village of Pinecrest Passes Resolution To Protect Matheson Hammock

Matheson Hammock Marina

At a special Village council meeting this evening, a resolution was passed stating opposition to the proposed boat storage facility at Matheson Hammock Park. Council members felt that the county’s Parks Department did not provide the public and surrounding municipalities with opportunity to provide input to their Request For Proposals for dry boat storage at the park.

Although the developer said that opposition was premature since impact studies had not been conducted, it was specifically because of the lack of information available about the impacts of the proposed structure, which is completely out of scale for the park in its sheer size (500 feet long and 50 feet high!), that the Village passed the resolution. 

Matheson Hammock Park is a park used by many residents and visitors in Miami-Dade county and the addition of any structures should proceed slowly and with public input.  It is, after all, supported by our tax dollars and admission fees.

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Bathroom Remodeling Made Simple

Whether it is the bathroom in a home you just purchased or the one in the home you have lived in for years, a new bathroom is within easy reach, thanks to BathSimple.com.  You design your bathroom on their website and everything you want comes in a box.  When you are done with your project, send the materials you took out back in the box for recycling.

Energy Vampires Cost You Money

Energy Vampires

I thought this banner was a creative way for the EPA’s Energy Star program to tie in Halloween with ways to decrease the amount of energy we waste every year through products that remain on standby.

Composting is Beneficial for South Florida Gardens

Growing plants in South Florida is very easy.  When I first moved here, I remember someone  telling me,  “plant once and cut it forever” .  Well, after successfully growing tomatoes, jalapenos, and a variety of peppers by simply throwing seeds from my kitchen into assorted pots, I am convinced that growing just about anything is pretty easy.  The quality of what is grown, however, requires a little more effort.  I threw papaya seeds in the yard and grew massive papayas, which were disgustingly mealy, and my frangipanis, though flowering, could use a little more something.

Composting is an easy way to improve the quality of your plants while reducing waste.   A friend and neighbor of mine who swears by her composter and my sister, who lives in Italy and thinks composting is a no-brainer, have convinced me that composting is the way to go.   So, after years of procrastinating, I have decided to go more “formal” with my garden and will start composting.  Since the University of Florida has an amazing agricultural extension and an extremely informative website, I will be building vs buying my first compost pile.  I will post my progress on this blog and, hopefully, will be producing compost that looks as good as this person’s.Real_Compost

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6 Reasons to Consider Florida Friendly Landscaping

In a state where water is in short supply and there is a year-round growing season,  Florida friendly landscaping is backyard after resizedimportant and can result in:

  • lower water bills
  • better looking yard during dry season and droughts
  • decreased maintenance requirements
  • increased presence of wildlife
  • shade and lower energy bills
  • minimizing the need for pesticides and fertilizers

For a guide of Florida friendly plants and other tips visit Floridayards.org

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Making Your Home More Energy Efficient Just Got Easier!

appliancesGovernor Charlie Crist signed a bill into law today that will give rebates on energy-efficient appliances.  The details are still to be worked out, but according to the Governor’s office consumers could save an average of up to 20% per appliance.  If you do plan to use the rebate, apply quickly.  Both the State’s  Solar Incentinves Rebate and Miami-Dade County appliance rebate programs were so popular, they quickly ran out of funds.

5 Ways To Tell If Your Home Has Chinese Drywall

drystatslargeChinese drywall could be present in your home if it was built or extensively remodeled between 2004 and 2008.  Due to the building boom and major hurricane damage during those years, drywall had to be imported for the first time.  Unfortunately, Chinese drywall has high levels of chemicals that we do not find in drywall made in the United States.

  1. Presence of sulfur smell or other strange odor
  2. Corrosion of copper pipes, especially on the air conditioning unit.  Instead of seeing a copper pipe, you will see one covered in a black, soot-like coating.
  3. The air conditioner evaporator coil located inside the air handling unit fails.
  4. Writing on the back of the drywall that says, “Made in China” or confirmed presence by builder.
  5. Confirmation by an outside expert.

BEWARE OF SCAMS!!!  This is Florida, after all.  DO NOT pay someone to come take an air test, as to date, there is no air test for Chinese drywall.  The easiest way to tell if it may be an issue are items 1-3 above.  If you are not sure, call your air conditioner technician.  DO NOT pay someone to spray anything on your walls.  There is no product currently being backed by anyone that can contain the dangerous substances found in the drywall

For important updates on Chinese drywall from, sign up at Florida’s State Department of Health

Free Trees Help Beautify Your Yard and Conserve Energy

The right landscaping  can help you save money.  Properly positioned, plants will  shade your home and tree-resizedlower cooling costs.  Using plants that don’t require a lot of water can minimize water usage while still allowing you to have a beautiful yard.

Miami-Dade County wants to encourage tree planting and offers the popular “Adopt-a-Tree” program several times a year throughout the County.

Achieving and maintaining a Florida-friendly yard, one that requires minimum watering and maintenance, is a great way to improve your home.

Other home improvement articles:

Free High Efficiency Shower Heads

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