Although climate change has been a topic of conversation for decades, the effects on the housing market in Miami has not been recognized until recently. The south Florida oceanfront is one of the most scenic places, and it is only rivaled by its natural beauty. However, this is an endangered ecosystem that can no longer sustain life because of sea level rise and a greater number of hurricanes hitting Miami each year.
As a result, muros verdes have become scarce and expensive assets due to their limited availability in Miami Bay. With access to the coast becoming more difficult, waterfront property is becoming more desirable, resulting in the price of the land increasing.
The muros are unique because they are usually built to withstand hurricanes. Because of many 1960s designs, they are usually one-story buildings with narrow setbacks. Their accessibility is limited to uncleared streets between 5-10 feet wide except for high-speed access roads along the beachfront. The architectural design of the muros allows for very little building mass and insulation, which leads to a slow decomposition process that leads to poor sustainability and higher cost over time. Because of this, many homes in these areas have been damaged due to hurricane damage and sea level rise. Thus, muros verdes have been recognized as a “key indicator of the impacts” of climate change on Miami’s housing market.
The problem with muros verdes is that they are not energy efficient. Their construction absorbs heat and holds it throughout the night, making them very vulnerable to rising temperatures in Miami. Other factors like poor ventilation at windows and doors, an inefficient roof that provides minimal resistance against moisture penetration, and poor wind protection cause these homes to become uncomfortable during warm weather months. These design flaws also make them susceptible to mold growth inside the home if windows are left open. In addition, many of these homes have low ceilings and high-pitched roofs, making them difficult to ventilate. In response to this issue, Miami-Dade County has been working with companies like Apogee Home Solutions to rebuild these muros verdes with energy-efficient construction techniques that will preserve the ecosystem for future generations.
Now that muros verdes are a focus of attention, the City of Miami Beach is attempting to protect the ecosystems by creating a stricter code for building in Miami’s coastal areas. The idea is to make sure new buildings do not damage the shoreline and coastal ecosystems. This will be done by implementing a 30-foot setback from the coast for most commercial buildings and a 15-foot setback for residential buildings. Along with this, these structures will also need to be elevated above the proposed flood level of sea rise. In addition, plans are in place to build a wetland park along the coast of Miami Beach to create a natural barrier from sea level rise.
In addition, muros verdes have been recognized as “key indicator(s) of the impacts” of climate change on Miami’s housing market because they will cease to exist in a few decades if nothing is done in order to protect them from climate change.