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Green or Greenback

It's true that  roofing may not appear to be the most creative of professions, which is why we love it when we have an opportunity to work on custom designed residences and buildings. The Oakwood Residence in North Miami is one of those golden projects.   You may have seen the story on the news about the owner, Peter Broemer, who shipped in a giant Buddha/Quan Yin (14 foot, 22,000 lbs!) from China as a gift for his new wife, a practicing Buddhist, but there is so much more to talk about.  The architectural firm, Thibeaux Architecture has taken every effort to design this residence using sustainable architecture in harmony with the natural surrounding environment. They have made a serious commitment to respect the existing trees and plant life to the extent that the entire house was designed to fit under specific tree branches.  Absolutely no industrial heavy equipment is allowed on the site to disturb or ruin plants and vegetation. Clearly, quite a challenge for us contractors.

My favorite site photo!


Kiwi, a Border Terrier (Peter's sister Ruth and brother-in-law Joseph's dog)

The other day I was speaking with  the architect, Keith Popiel, and I could hear his passion and excitement about the project and its progression.  After our conversation I hung up the phone and immediately jumped online to visit the  Thibeaux website to see what's going on (they have an incredible photo journal documenting the project that you should check out) and I started to wonder how many companies in South Florida truly have a commitment to environmentally sustainable design and management measures?  We at Best Roofing  replace more and more roofs with "cool roofing systems" that are highly reflective, and we have the ability to install vegetative roofs and have actually installed a handful in South Florida (In my humble opinion I'd like to see more vegetative roofs in our urban areas, but that's a whole other post), so to get to my question- are most building/roofing/decisions based on cost alone?  Given the current economics everyone wants the most affordable option and sometimes that isn't always the most sustainable option.  Do South Florida companies have a sustainable vision that is aligned with their business goals?  The more advanced  a company's view of sustainability is requires a very clear strategy and changes everything from the way a company thinks to its processes and systems.   What's your view?

~Kathleen

4 Responses

  1. First, thanks to Best Roofing for the blog entry and giving us recognition. Having worked on this project for (many) years now when high-end homes can be designed in much less than a year, this project is literally that "one-in-a-million" that we all hear about. It started in 2007 and here we are mid 2011 and the shell structure is still not complete. And that is not for a lack of effort as the construction crews have been very productive and working 6 day weeks. I honestly don't know how we can follow-up this project, as it is so unique that even very complicated projects will pale in comparison. The project has stretched our imagination and has, quite frankly, changed our design process. Normally, every effort is made to plan and schedule all aspects of the design / construction documentation process. The Oakwood project turned that on it's ear and we have adjusted our thinking and our adaptability to rapidly changing design issues and challenges. Fortunately the whole design team has maintained a healthy sense of humour throughout. It helps. So far, 15 months of construction since breaking ground and it's still "beams, columns, rebar and concrete block." The website pictures show a lot and, quite frankly, are difficult to keep current. I recently invited my friend Joe (a very experienced GC who works on much larger projects ) to see the Oakwood project and he said, "this isn't a house you are building, it is more like a museum". He nailed it. It will be a living museum. More to come... much more...
  2. Thanks Best Roofing for posting my dream home. One of the main features of this flat roof is its multilevel draining system. There is the "lower" section that covers the first floor, the majority of the house. It is made up of six levels that all have a 1/4" slope per foot for efficient draining of rain water. The upper levels drain onto the lower levels and all accumulate at one point and drain into a 12,000 gallon cistern. The living room with a 28' ceiling, mezzanine and loft are covered with the "upper" roof which drains onto the "lower" roof and into the cistern. The water in the cistern is used to run a massive water feature on the west side if the house which features a waterfall and two reflecting ponds with infinity edges that drain back into the cistern. The feature is visible from many rooms in the house, including the living room and the master bathroom (and shower). We should be ready for you to come and install the roof membrane on the lower roof in about 2 months. It will be another 2 or 3 months until we are ready for the upper roof. PRB
  3. Another place to see many pictures and descriptive information is... http://thibeauxarchitecture.com/pf_res_7201_001_home.htm (Note: Most project in a typical portfolio entry have one page with some pics and a descriptive paragraph... The Oakwood Residence has 24 pages and counting... )
  4. BG
    This is a very interesting project. A true labor of love I'm sure. The preservation of local trees is nice to see as well as the water collection system. I think living roofs in some form are something many would say yes to if they didn't have to pay extra for them (or didn't have a choice) and understood the benefits. The same can be said for solar systems and other active and passive environmentally beneficial systems; although these cost more as they typically are not substituting for other systems/materials like a vegetative roof would. The reality is that unless there is an economic driver or regulatory requirement these things will continue to only find their way into projects done by those with the means and the will. It is going to take some significant education to change this behavior. Just look at the oceans of houses built in Southern California with barely a single solar panel in sight. We have a number of living roof projects here in the Seattle area. They do benefit from the climate I suppose and we have a somewhat higher than average environmentally conscious population (at least we like to think so). I've read that the costs are comparable to tile or slate and maintenance is minimal after the planting matures. Then of course we also have a lot of unwanted vegetation growing on our rooftops here in the Northwest. Go green on purpose and be happy that things are growing on your roof! I would think that south Florida would be an equally good place for living roofscapes.

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