Green Design Starts When You Meet Client, Continues with Residents

Nicole L. Norton-Gozdz, R.A. is the founder of Crossroads Architecture Inc. (CAI). She is the sole owner of CAI. Gozdz has a national certification in architecture and has experience with site planning and commercial development/redevelopment processes in municipalities across Florida as well as Georgia, Tennessee and Nevada. She is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council: Treasure Coast Chapter (events chairman), Florida Green Building Coalition, Green Building Council, Energy Star, NCARB and Treasure Coast Builders Assoc.Her firm is currently implementing green design at a multifamily project in Martin County and has also begun work on the Stuart Lodge Assisted Living Facility. It will be the first “green” Commercial building in the city of Stuart and Martin County.Gozdz talks to MHN Online News Editor, Anuradha Kher about doing green projects, the latest design trends and her definition of green design. MHN: What are the key trends in multifamily architecture in Florida? Gozdz: In Martin County (on the Atlantic Ocean coast of the state) the biggest trend is providing the most creative three-bedroom/two-bath floor plan with a one-car garage. The biggest challenge has been offering affordable townhomes or condos on high-dollar property. A lot of the townhome projects here are not moving forward because they can’t find a market for selling 2,000-sq.-ft townhomes for $550,000.MHN: What are the hot green trends in the multifamily market in Florida?Gozdz: It is creating eco-friendly sites, starting with brownfield sites. Developers want to provide a balance for the extra cost of green site design with lower site maintenance and energy-efficient units. Developers are trying to separate themselves from the masses. Green design provides that difference. Another incentive for developers has been that the local municipalities are giving incentives for designing green. Getting put on the top of the list for plan review helps motivate people to go green. These are the things that have motivated my clients.MHN: How does your firm define green building?Gozdz: We like to provide high-impact design while reducing everyone’s carbon footprint along the way. Green design starts from the moment you meet your client and continues with the occupants of the project. It takes a little extra effort to design above code standards and it can make all the GREEN difference. If you provide good design from the beginning, going green shouldn’t be an issue.MHN: Without a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) equivalent for multi-housing, what rules do you follow for the multifamily projects you do?Gozdz: We use LEED standards as a guideline, but with some projects the prerequisites are too cost-prohibitive to obtain. The Florida Green Building Coalition has also provided good guidelines. The energy design requirements are geared more towards the Florida climate with the FGBC guidelines. MHN: How popular is green design in multifamily projects in Florida?Gozdz: In Martin County, we are just beginning but I know Sarasota and Gainesville are miles ahead of us. I have approached the majority of our clients with green and they are surprisingly saying “Yes.” We still have a long way to go, but more and more green projects are being developed, mainly commercial. We have individual residential homes, which are LEED certified, but no multifamily. We hope to be the first.MHN: How did the architecture in Copenhagen, where you were a foreign exchange student, influence your work? Do those influences shape your work?Gozdz: My studies in Denmark were very enlightening. Their combination of modern technology with the use of old materials was mind blowing. Their design ethic for achieving great results has always been inspiring. They never let material challenges define the end result. An example is the Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, which took over 15 years to build.