Florida Homes Built to Resist Hurricanes, Reduce Emissions

04:09 November 9, 2023

Florida Homes Built to Resist Hurricanes, Reduce Emissions

Hurricane Michael hit the American state of Florida five years ago. The major storm came with wind speed of 250 kilometers per hour. It damaged many homes, boats, cars and trucks.

But Bonny Paulson’s home in the coastal community of Mexico Beach only suffered minor damage to its roof. That is because it was built to resist high winds and heavy rain.

While others left the area ahead of the storm, Paulson stayed behind. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” she said. Almost all the nearby homes were badly damaged. Many were completely destroyed.

Now, home builders in hurricane-prone areas are building more homes like the one Paulson owns.

The new homes are built with recycled or advanced materials that reduce energy use. Solar panels are fitted closely on the roof to prevent high winds from getting under. And they are easier to heat and cool.

Deltec is the homebuilder that built Paulson’s home. The company says only one of nearly 1,400 homes it built has been badly damaged by a hurricane. The homes, Deltec says, also use better material and equipment to reduce energy use.

Steve Linton is head of Deltec. He said, “The real magic here is that we’re doing both.”

Other homebuilders are also developing neighborhoods that are both resistant to hurricanes and friendly to climate change.

In Cortez, Florida, Pearl Homes has completed 26 homes and plans for 30 more by the end of next year in the Hunters Point neighborhood.

The homes are LEED-certified platinum, which is the highest rating for homes that use less energy. The homes and roads are also built higher off the ground to avoid flooding.

Marshall Gobuty is the chief executive of Pearl Homes. He said he wants the homes “to be so unlike everything else that goes on in Florida.” He said there are new homes nearby that are “underwater.”

Paulson, the homeowner in Mexico Beach, said she did not want to live “day to day worried about (a storm).” She said the new building materials also reduce the costs of energy needed to power her home. She said she used to pay $250 a month for energy use in a different home. Now her cost is about $32.

Babcock Ranch is another hurricane-resistant and climate change-friendly community in south Florida. The community calls itself the first solar-powered town in the U.S. The town has 680,000 solar panels to produce energy and uses large batteries to store it. And the homes are built to deal with high winds and heavy rain.

In 2022, Hurricane Ian came through Babcock Ranch and left very little damage. Syd Kitson started the town in 2006. He said, “Unless you build in a very resilient way, you’re just going to constantly be repairing or demolishing the home.”

I’m Dan Friedell.

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