Professor and Family Build a House of Recyclables



The house built by College of Architecture + The Arts Associate Professor David Rifkind and his wife, Holly Zickler, is featured in the current issue of Residential Architect. Published by the American Institute of Architects, the magazine used their home as an example of sustainable construction methods in an article on “net-zero” buildings, which generate as much power as they consume. Rifkind and Zickler’s house is not yet net-zero – its photovoltaic panels generate about three-quarters of the electricity they use – but they intend to bring the house up to net-zero standards by expanding their solar array.

The house has a number of other ecologically sustainable features. Most of the materials used in its construction are recycled or rapidly renewable, and the house produces about two-thirds of its drinking water by filtering rainwater. The house was awarded Florida Water Star Gold certification and Florida-Friendly Landscape certification, and was part of the sold-out AIA Miami Earth Day Tour of Green Homes in April 2013.

Rifkind and Zickler built the house using a steel structural frame – which is seventy-five percent recycled – and light steel framing – which is one-hundred percent recycled. The steel proved to be more efficient than concrete and wood in enclosing the space, since less energy and resources are used in the building process. In addition to focusing on sustainable resources for the construction of the home, Rifkind and Zickler paid attention to the natural environment surrounding the house. Their goal was to help the environment regain its full potential. “…[W]e’ve designed a house that used little energy to build…,” said Rifkind to Florida/Caribbean ARCHITECT magazine, “uses little energy and water to operate (through conservation, electricity generation and water filtration), is highly durable (against wind, termites and mold) and provides natural habitat, compared to conventional construction methods in South Florida.”

Saturday, November 16 the house will be featured on the USGBC Miami-Dade Branch Green Homes Tour.

For more information on the house, visit the tin box blog. To view press on the home, click here.

The Department of Architecture’s Associate Professor David Rifkind and Correspondent Juan Brizuela collaborated in the writing of this article. Information for this article was drawn from HGTV FrontDoor and Residential Architect. Images provided by David Rifkind and Holly Zickler at

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