Home Blog Tropical Design for South Florida’s Tropical Climate

Tropical Design for South Florida’s Tropical Climate

Posted in Blog on Monday, October 21st, 2013 at 9:54 am 1 Comments
Tropical Design for South Florida’s Tropical Climate

The Spinnaker Group Inc.: LEED Consulting, Energy Modeling, Building Commissioning
By: Jessica Lieberman, LEED AP ID+C
Director of Marketing, The Spinnaker Group

Most everyone that visits and lives in Florida loves this State for its warm weather and beautiful landscape, but did you know that South Florida is a “one-of-a-kind” environment in the United States? It is the only true tropical climate in all of North America; “Zone 1A”. A tropical environment is defined as is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures of at least 64 °F. Unlike the extra-tropics, where there are strong variations in day length and temperature, with season, tropical temperature remains relatively constant throughout the year and seasonal variations are dominated by precipitation.

Tropical Green 2013, an all day educational conference, hosted by USGBC South Florida, took place at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale on September 20th. The Tropical Green Conference is a conduit for communicating “best practices” for building in our humid, temperate environment. The USGBC South Florida is uniquely positioned to show leadership in this subject because:

– The only counties in North America classified as Tropical, “Zone 1A,” are in South Florida.

– Our climate impacts practices in a manner that does not allow the use of the strategies common in North America and Europe.

– Effective sustainability strategies must embrace the distinct environmental, social and financial aspects of our climate.

The majority of the developing world and some of the most popular areas — including areas such as Brazil, India, China and Africa — are in this climate zone. As population grows, the demands for energy will increase the global footprint. Sustainable strategies are the key to mitigate environmental dangers as cities modernize around the globe.

Keynote speakers included Patricia Bosch, Design Director at Perkins + Will Miami and Bruno Stagno with the Institute for Tropical Architecture. Both of these architects and their firms recognize the importance of tropical architectural design  and incorporate environmentally responsive strategies  into all of their projects. Ms. Bosch showcased a current project of the firm; the L’Oreal Headquarters in Brazil. Located on a small peninsula off the coast, the building becomes one with the landscape. A wall of windows is oriented to maximize views that face away from the sun while the “backbone” of the building is covered with Photovoltaic panels and is exposed to the harsh UV rays  to absorbs the sun’s energy.   Mr. Stagno showcased his work of designing in the Tropics, one that spans over 40 years. Large overhangs and shading devices have become a trademark to his architectural style and are essential to his designs in tropical environments.

Education sessions ran throughout the day and included topics such as Energy Conservation and Generation, Green Roofing, Water Efficiency, Daylight Harvesting, Indoor Environmental Quality and a Case Study Session which included an in-depth look at Award Winning-LEED Certified  projects like, Max Planck Laboratory in Palm Beach, Young At Art Museum & Broward County Library and Rio Negro (first LEED Certified Hospital in South America).

For its first year, the Tropical Green Conference was a huge success that will hopefully become an annual “must attend” event by all of the design professionals in South Florida. As builders, architects, designers, constructors, suppliers and environmental stewards of this beautiful tropical climate we live in, we have a professional and moral responsibility to educate ourselves on the critical environmental issues of the region and the locations where we work. The challenge is to then use the knowledge we gain to fuel great design, that is environmentally responsive and that will improve the lives and landscape where we live, work and play.



  • Nicole

    As part of the upcoming LDR Amendments that the City of Key West is undertaking we are VERY interested in leering more about the programs and policies of Tropical Green that can help support our efforts. We will be attending the May 14th workshop, but do you recommend any references?