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Native Architecture, Eco-Friendly Buildings

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Florida-based builder, Susan Horn of Artisan Builders, who donates her time to help design and build eco-friendly playhouses (shown left) that are auctioned off to benefit a local charity she supports.

Horn has been building and living green since before there was a definition of “green living.” When her community built a brand new, beautiful (and toxic) school, she and a number of local parents pulled their children out due to a sharp increase in asthma symptoms. It was her childrens’ asthma that lead she and her husband, Peter, on a search for materials that would create the least toxic home environment possible.

Coupling their design acumen with years of research, they have recently moved out of their first eco-home (that coincidentally will become the new local Montessori school) and are moved into another in the area.

Below are some tips that Horn advocates and will be personally implementing.

  1. With her son’s 16th birthday, Horn will be handing over the keys to her diesel Jetta and relying on a scooter and bicycle for transportation, making it important to plan errands ahead of time.
  2. Horn talks about the importance of looking at architecture native to an area – there are distinct reasons why Adobe houses developed in New Mexico and for Southern homes having such large porches (the porches actually keep the house shaded and cooler in the hot summer months).
  3. Permaculture is one of the most interesting ways to keep a house eco-friendly. Our manufactured lawns are filled with chemicals and use an abundance of resources to maintain. By looking at your area’s native flora and fauna, you can conserve a lot of those resources and your time. Nature will actually take care of your lawn for the most part – just as she has for years.

Horn lives in Seagrove, FL right in the middle of some of the first and premiere New Urbanist establishments along the scenic Highway 30-A, including Seaside, Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach.

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When she isn't writing or in the library, this tech savvy ecophile can usually be found glued to her mobile or macbook ogling the latest gadgets, scouting the newest designs, traveling or out enjoying the Colorado terrain. Courtney holds two masters degrees in Psychology and Communications and received her BA from Vanderbilt University in Psychology and English. She recently relocated from Los Angeles to Denver, CO where she is pursuing her PhD in Family and Child Psychology.


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