Not long after completing the New American Home 2007, a green-built show home at last year’s International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla., veteran builder Carmen Domínguez realized the true meaning of her work. A 13-year-old boy approached her while she toured the home. “He said, ‘Thank you for doing this,’ ”Domínguez recalls, her otherwise exuberant tone softening as she retells the story. That moment deepened her commitment to bring what she learned from her first green home into the future of her business, and changed the way she looked at home building forever.
Located in the Lake Eola historic district of downtown Orlando, the three-story New American Home features energy- and resource-efficient details that Domínguez had not yet worked with, including a rainwater catchment system, pervious paving, and photovoltaic solar collectors. The spacious home also includes large banks of windows that bathe the interior with natural light, and an open plan that adds to its sense of comfort. According to the Department of Energy, the home consumes 73% less energy for heating and cooling and 54% less energy for water heating, compared with a traditional house of similar size in the same climate.
Domínguez admits that making the green leap wasn’t easy, citing a learning curve and hurdles including affordability and finding labor. “We were being pioneers, and we had our challenges,” she says.
But it also was necessary.
“I’m convinced that if we conserve water and energy; if we utilize natural light; and if we use these things nature has given us—we will make things better. By using it in building, we are showing that we can all make a difference.” —Ian Blyth