How Grove Properties is Going Green and Preserving the Coconut Grove We Love
Before it was annexed by Miami in 1925, Coconut Grove was its own independent city and a metaphorical oasis for a wave of immigrants who first homesteaded the land. Since then, our beloved Coconut Grove has seen many changes and evolutions as countless people have called this area home.
Today, however, the Coconut Grove is facing some troubling challenges—particularly in terms of preservation. According to writer and filmmaker Luke Fronefield, the Grove is currently at risk of being destroyed by “greed and development gone bad.”
This may sound a bit odd coming from a developer, but this is an issue that we here at Grove Properties/Oxford Design Build have made our personal mission to overcome. We can’t stop progress—the demand for homes in Coconut Grove is not going to cease—but we can work in harmony with the environment and the community as we move forward.We can’t stop progress—the demand for homes in Coconut Grove is not going to cease—but we can work in harmony with the environ
Our commitment to a sustainable future
Grove Properties is a proud founding sponsor of the Architectural Research Collaborative, and we have taken a lead role in creating the ARC+ Buildgreen program. The Build Green program is a commitment to green building initiatives and sustainable architecture. The year-round program with FIU School of Communication, Architecture and the Arts provides tuition assistance for six FIU CARTA graduate students. The program itself works to deepen the educational experience of an additional 200 students. Participating students benefit from site visits to engaged architectural firms, real-estate developments, and construction projects currently underway in South Florida. Upon meeting with leaders of each field and engaging in interactive discussions, students are exposed to the creation and promotion of sustainable, thoughtful development in the Miami and South Florida community at large.
The importance of LEED certification and preserving the Grove
Unfortunately, there are many builders out there who are trying to pass final inspection by minimally meeting the local building codes. They have no interest in building a green structure to reduce waste or increase the efficiency of the home.
Building practices that comply with LEED standards, however, go above and beyond the current city and county building codes—and are verified by a third party. This is why all new Oxford Homes are LEED certified and, as such, are held to the highest standards of sustainability. All of our new construction homes must meet certain LEED requirements and pass a rigorous testing process in order to become certified.
We’ve partnered with green building and environmental consulting firm RunBrook to ensure the homes we build in Coconut Grove are high quality and energy efficient with a low environmental impact and carbon footprint. Our goal is to create homes that are a natural part of the Grove.
Maintaining the delicate balance between old and new
We recently completed two projects in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables: 3221 Calusa St and 510 Tivoli Ave. These two 1955 properties are now LEED certified, and we managed to save the old tropical architecture, all the mature trees on the grounds, and improve the energy efficiency of the homes.
The irony here is that many of these older properties were purposefully untouched since the ‘50s by owners who wanted to “go green.” However, technology has advanced so much that refusing to update a home actually makes it more wasteful. These older structures are typically lacking insulation or have old air conditioning systems, electric water heaters with storage tanks, old windows and doors that leak, high-volume water fixtures, and incandescent lights. All these features are energy hogs and waste water. Today, current buildings in the United States account for 39% of total energy use, 12% of total water consumption, 68% of electricity consumption, and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions.
When we acquire older structures, it’s imperative to go through the LEED certification process in order to preserve the old character and architecture of the homes, while making the properties sustainable for the future.
For new construction, we also incorporate the same LEED criteria as well as design a home that fits in scale with the neighboring homes. Our newest project at 4045 Bonita Ave is a one-story, four-bedroom home that offers great covered outdoor spaces and an underground basement. This floor plan is in harmony with the Grove architectural character (no big box structures) while offering great living spaces demanded by today’s residents.
Sustainable green design should be thought of as a process, not just a goal—allowing for a broader evaluation of the environmental, economical, and societal impacts of our projects as single units and as part of their environment. Efforts like LEED certification and the ARC+ program are all an integral part of our Grove Properties “Going Green” initiative and a small effort on our part to save the Grove.