House and home

Pictured: The award-winning Verandah House was completed in 2015. Photo courtesy of Halflants and Pichette.

Following trends in sustainable home building has been a decades-long passion of Michael Halflants, FAIA, an award-winning design director of the Tampa/Sarasota firm, Halflants + Pichette.

On September 22, he shared his insights at the Interior Design Society (IDS) environmental design conference: Green Building, Healthy Lives! on the New College of Florida campus. Halflants took part in a panel entitled “Design for Sustainability and Environment” and focused on the topic of “sustainable density”. He joined two other speakers: landscape architect David Young, who discussed “environmental landscaping”; and interior designer Sarit Marcus, who spoke on “How to Create a Healthy and Eco-Friendly Home”.

Q: What are the ways in which Sarasota is moving towards sustainable construction?

A: In Sarasota County, 76% of households are made up of one or two people, but most of what’s on the market are living spaces with three or more bedrooms. When the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce surveyed young professionals, nearly 80% said they wanted to live in an apartment, and 62% said they hoped to find a one-bedroom apartment. or two bedrooms.

If a municipality limits the number of residential units per acre to an unreasonably low number, as the city of Sarasota does, it is encouraging the construction of large condominiums to the exclusion of all others. It is neither sustainable nor fair to build an entire city of luxury units. The average unit size should be around 1,200 square feet rather than 4,000. A smaller footprint will use fewer resources to build and bring more residents closer to restaurants and work. Higher density generates less traffic and a lower carbon footprint per capita. Many municipalities across the country are subject to a zoning code that makes it difficult to create smaller units, even if they are more sustainable to build and more welcoming to a diverse population in terms of income, age and background. ‘origin. These codes can be described as exclusionary zoning where potential buyers who cannot afford a huge unit are excluded. It’s not really possible to create affordable units unless you allow for higher density.

Many of the building problems we have in the United States and around the world could be improved if we move away from the single family lot model. In the United States, land use planning is growing twice as fast as population growth. When it comes to the world’s population, we are already spending resources faster than we can afford to, and this is a problem that needs to be tackled.

Halflants + Pichette: 1350 Fifth St., Sarasota, 941-365-1820,

Pictured: The award-winning Verandah House was completed in 2015. Photo courtesy of Halflants and Pichette.

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