Green Builder Magazine’s VISION HOUSE series kicks off in Orlando this year for the International Builder’s Show with two new projects that highlight the latest technologies in green building and remodelling. As America experiences a slight upturn in the economy, hope for a big swing and a return to ‘the way we were’ is still first on our minds. I don’t know about you, but the scorecard changes daily, from cautious optimism to doom and gloom, depending on whom you talk to.
Last week I visited the site of the two houses I’m working on in Orlando and met with the builder, Southern Traditions Development. This husband and wife building team work in an amazing little section of Orlando called College Park, which is about 20 minutes from the Convention Center. This neighborhood is full of adorable bungalows and “cracker-style” homes that are synonymous with Southern architecture dating back to the 1920s. Cobblestone streets and airy front porches make this area look like a Hollywood movie set.
John Plevich and Kim Foy, the owners of Southern Traditions Development, have managed to maintain the quaint feel of the neighborhood and build and remodel homes that are not only attractive and sustainable, but also affordable. Their business is flourishing and continues to evolve, even in this sluggish economy. So here’s a perfect example of what it takes to make it work. A passion for what they do, an eye for clean, simple design, and a vision for building and remodelling sustainably.
This year’s VISION HOUSE, which is new construction, is made from insulated concrete forms instead of the usual stick-built way with wood framing. Blocks of hollow styrofoam stack together like Legos for the outside shell and are filled with concrete, creating a hurricane-proof, waterproof, highly insulated structure—not unlike a thermos bottle or styrofoam cooler. The outside can be finished with traditional siding or stucco, just like any other home. The advantage, of course, is in the energy savings on heating and cooling as well as storm protection.
The other project in Orlando this year is a followup to last year’s successful RE-Vision house in Las Vegas, which was a remodelled mid-century modern home that achieved net zero energy status and still maintained it’s cool modern vibe. Remodelling existing housing stock is the greenest thing you can do, improving what’s there without creating a huge carbon footprint.
This year’s Re-Vision project is in the same College Park neighborhood. It’s a 1950s ranch-style home with no particular architectural integrity, but sits well on a nice-sized lot on a cul-de-sac. By adding a small master bed and bath wing and reconfiguring the existing space, the house will go from small cramped rooms to a more open-style plan that works well with today’s lifestyle.
What’s important to me as a designer is to create living spaces that are simple and uncluttered, and stay as far away as I can from a heavy or grandiose look that’s been so popular in recent years. This year’s house will have a California Napa-style look, with some Spanish or Mediterannean influence, but with a much easier, lighter tone. Both homes will feature many green and sustainable products, from kitchen cabinetry to flooring and furniture.
You can read more about both these homes on Green Builder Magazine’s website: www.greenbuildermag.com