Living Buildings - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Monday, April 30, 2007

Living Buildings

There's a new construction craze gripping South Florida. From the outside new buildings sprouting up in our area look like every other, but on the inside there are biolariums and so-called living machines; all high tech environmentally friendly breakthroughs. Not only are they good for Mother Earth, it turns out they're also really good for you. 

It's a tropical oasis in the middle of Delray Beach. This is the Sundy House, one of the first large scale green projects in the area. These ponds are reclaimed water used for irrigation. This swimming pool is the first commercial swimming pond with water cleaned naturally; no chemicals.

"I hope it is going to catch on in a big way and everybody is going to do it."

If the Sundy House is the first step for green building in our area, John Romano is taking the next big leap. This is his building: Viva Verde, live green.

"This is the way it needs to be done in the future and everybody can do it."

John is building this 6-story building in Lake Worth. It features 125 environmentally friendly features, like an elevator that runs on vegetable oil.

"There is this desire to look at things and say we can do better."

John Szerdi is the architect. He's designed such things as this wetland rooftop garden. Not only does it keep the building cool, rain is filtered through the plants. The water drains into a large tank. That water is then used for all toilets. Then there's the biolarium. It contains the living machine. It's this indoor atrium that mixes fresh air with stale office air. The waterfall is fed from condensation from the air conditioner. The results? A healthier building with healthier employees.

"I do know that if you have a good clean air environment people are healthier people have less allergies. There area a lot irritations that distract us from being productive."

In fact, it's estimated workers are 2 to 4% more efficient in green buildings. That's an extra 20 minutes of work a day per employee. Then there are the energy savings. This building is 60%  more efficient than a normal office building. Translation: a one thousand dollar a month electric bill will be transformed into only $400. The combination means the extra construction costs up front will be paid off within 3 years.

"The benefits that you reap, the tax benefits you ultimately get, the grants that you get make it cost less in the long run plus you are helping mother nature. If you are going to do a very good quality project the costs really are minimal."

As a result, green is the thing. This West Palm Beach building is being built to save water with this beautiful pond. And remember the Sundy House? It's now expanding. Paving the way for new environmentally friendly ideas.

"You can build a structure that enhances plant earth it is possible it can be done and we are going to do it." 

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