Each season, The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach honors homeowners, architects and landscape designers who uphold the heritage and scenic quality of the town.
Executive Director Amanda Skier described the foundation’s Schuler Award as honoring “new architecture that is both in keeping with the character and tradition of Palm Beach while also advancing that character and tradition.”
The new home at 241 Jungle Road in the Estate Section embodies that spirit, incorporating the latest technologies and solar power.
Architect Daniel Kahan and homeowners Jim Held and Kenn Karakul won this year’s award and showed that sustainability can be as important as beauty.
“Since I was going to build a sizable house, I figured I might as well try to lessen the environmental impact wherever I could,” Held said last month.
The house features an environmentally friendly roof with 230 U.S.-made solar panels. The panels are surrounded by flush strips of grass designed to help absorb heat. Low parapet walls hide most of the panels from view. The idea was to conserve energy while reducing reflected heat, Kahan said.
Held said depending on the time of the year, “we generate between 250 and 400 kilowatts of energy a day. The house uses between 350 and 400 kilowatts a day. During the day, we generate all of the energy we use.”
Add in state-of-the-art insulation, LED lighting and an energy-efficient air-conditioning system, and the house is a model of sustainability, Held said in an interview. He has encouraged the subcontractors who worked on the project to spread the word about it.
The Jungle Road project should serve as a model for other island property owners who want to use similar systems. And town officials should do their part to ensure that building and zoning codes accommodate and encourage the sort of responsible sustainability embodied by the house.
After all, beauty shouldn’t just be skin deep. Part of maintaining the beauty of this town is maintaining its environment.