Tangelia Sands watched Ario Lundy build affordable houses in her Liberty City neighborhood for several years, admiring them from afar. Next month, she and her four children finally will move into one of those homes.
Not only will it be affordable, it will be the first affordable ''green'' house in Miami-Dade County.
Sands, who arises every morning at 3:15 to begin driving her Metrobus at 4, recently visited her under-construction home with two of her children to see exactly what they will be getting -- completely by chance, as Sands chose the site and not the house. They met with the architect, the builder, Opal Jones of the Miami-Dade Housing Foundation and Patricia Braynon of the Housing Finance Authority.
''I put out the challenge to build green affordable housing, and one architect and one builder responded,'' Braynon said. ``Here they are.''
Lundy's Palmetto Homes of Miami is the builder; Steven Ross Luria of Miami is the architect who converted the original house plan done by Arcon Engineering of Hialeah into a green prototype.
The construction cost of the home will be between $165,000 and $180,000, estimates Lundy. (Sands is paying $225,000, a standard price for an affordable home, according to Braynon).
The additional green components add $12,850 to the cost of the house. But, says Luria, these upfront costs mean Sands will save $2,000 a year in energy bills, which delights her as much as having impact-resistant windows. The green materials will pay for themselves in only six years.
Among the green elements are insulated, solid concrete walls; insulated air conditioning ducts; recycled oak flooring; energy-efficient appliances; compact fluorescent lights; low VOC paints and drought-resistant landscaping. The house will be quiet as well from all the insulation.
There are about 150 people in the process of applying for affordable housing through the Miami-Dade Affordable Housing Foundation at any one time. They take financial classes, set up a saving account and join the waiting list. The process can take a month or years. For Sands, it took about a year. She looks forward to the day ''when I come home from work, I can shower and lie down in quiet,'' she said.
To assemble the green components, Luria studied the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Florida Green Building Coalition and the federal Energy Star program and selected those he felt would qualify the house for a green LEED residential certification.
LEED, awarded by the Green Building Council, means Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs, and it signifies that the building performs exceptionally well in five arenas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
Additional standards set by the Florida Green Building Coalition include hurricane protection, such as impact-resistant windows and reinforced garage doors.
Here are some of the elements Luria and Lundy have used to build a green home:
Solid concrete walls were poured using a insulated concrete forms that result in walls 5 ½ inches thick. Styrofoam on the interior and exterior of the concrete remains in place, giving the walls an R value of 25 to 30. The R value measures the resistance to heat transference. (The South Florida building code requires R5 for masonry walls.) The walls will prevent so much heat build-up that the air conditioning unit for the home can be 2.5 tons compared with a 3-ton unit required for the identical nongreen house next door.
Adding to the strength of the house are double-strapped trusses (single straps are required by code to counter uplift pressure on the roof during windstorms). Roof sheathing is put on with with nails placed four inches on center instead of six.
These also are standards that can help the home be certified as Fortified, lowering wind insurance costs 25 to 30 percent, said John Kiefer, a vice president of E3 Building Sciences, an engineering consulting firm in Naples that certifies new homes for Energy Star and other green building efforts. The Fortified certification was devised by the nonprofit Institute for Business and Home Safety in Tampa, and means a house is stronger than code requires and resistant to wind.
Calling the Liberty City house very strong, Kiefer said, ``Generally, the house will be very efficient and, I think, will be a good bang for the buck there.''
Insulation around the air conditioning ducts will reduce the cost of air conditioning by preventing leakage and keeping air in the ducts cooler as it is sent throughout the house. That means the unit doesn't have to run as long to reach the appropriate temperature.
In addition, Luria and Lundy selected insulated ceiling lights.
''When you use ceiling lights, a hole is cut in the ceiling, and most of the time it is not insulated,'' Luria said. Home Depot carries ceiling lights that come with air-tight housing to prevent hot attic air from entering the home.
A radiant barrier of thin aluminum beneath the roof will reflect UV light away from the attic space and cut down on heat build-up.
A tankless water heater will provide hot water on demand, instead of the normal system that heats water 24 hours a day.
Two cisterns will collect rainwater. Gutters around the roof will channel rain into a 300-gallon cistern in front of the house and a 250-gallon cistern in the back. And the landscaping will be drought-tolerant.
Solar light tubes are being built into the closets. These are insulated round domes that fit through the roof and channel light through reflective tubes into the closets during the day, diffusing it through what looks like a regular recessed lighting fixture. Compact fluorescent light bulbs will be used throughout the home.
The washer and dryer are in the garage, in unairconditioned space, so the heat won't penetrate the living space.
A 12-foot overhang on the southwest corner will keep out afternoon heat while providing a small patio.
The roof tile is light colored rather than terra cotta, relecting sunlight rather than absorbing it.
The green home that will belong to Sands and her family is adjacent to an exact copy next door, without the green elements. Luria and Lundy will be able to make a long-term comparison of the energy savings and sustainability of the two buildings. Certifiers from the Green Building Council already have inspected the home once, and will return to test it for airtightness once construction has finished, Luria said.
In order to qualify for a mortgage grant from the Miami-Dade Housing Foundation, Sands took classes in budgeting and credit, choosing a real estate agent, selecting a home or condo, and home inspection.
Sands obtained a mortgage from SunTrust and another loan from the Foundation that requires a minimal $25-a-month payment for the first five years. The city of Miami provided the land.
''Because this is a prototype, we don't know what the final cost will be,'' Braynon said. ``But as we do more of them, the cost will come down.''