By Mike Bonts
TALLAHASSEE – Last month the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC), the leading certifier of green projects in the state, achieved a major milestone.
Over 15,000 green certified projects in Florida. And the number keeps climbing. One reason is FGBC has created green building standards allowing it to certify that construction meets and adheres to the industry’s best practices.
“Builders and developers across Florida have found our criteria to be very effective and easy to implement because they are adaptable to each home’s unique construction requirements,” said FGBC president Jeremy Nelson. “Our certification programs are the only yardsticks developed with specific guidelines to address Florida’s hot-humid environment, topography and potential natural disasters.”
The road to 15K began in 2001, when Fallman Design & Construction built the first Florida Green home in Clermont.
“Being the first FGBC certified house was huge for me. As a young builder, it afforded me a way to differentiate myself from other builders,” remembers builder Paul Fallman.
Since that historic project, FGBC has certified commercial buildings, single-family residential developments, high-rise residential buildings as well as municipalities.
“I reached out to the Florida Solar Energy Center for information on solar,” Fallman said. “They introduced me to FGBC. The knowledge and insight that I gained from FGBC allowed me to differentiate myself and pull ahead of the competition.”
Today, the owners of the first certified Florida Green home speak highly of the experience, process and results.
“We estimate that we spend 40 percent less than our neighbors. Whenever they come over and they find out how much we spend they are shocked,” said Larry VanCleave. “Due to the Ultra Air system our air conditioning unit lasted 12 years. We just had to have it replaced.”
One of VanCleave’s favorite features is the air intake system. It can switch the air from inside out and from outside in. If you burn something while cooking, you just switch the air out.
“I have nothing but praise for how Paul Fallman built this house. I think that most of the people in our subdivision have so much respect for the quality that went into our house,” he said. “We’ve had people drive by and say, ‘Can we look at it?’ We let them in. People need to see the quality construction.”
FGBC uses independent third-party experts to review construction so owners can be assured their home will perform as expected in critical areas.
“We recently had a wind mitigation done for insurance purposes. The inspector said that our roof was in better shape than most new builds,” noted Vivian VanCleave. “He said that it wasn’t going anywhere. I am afraid of hurricanes, so that just made me feel so much safer.”
Great partners like Florida Solar Energy Center, Florida Water Star, the Florida Home Builders Association, local Home Builders Associations, and the state’s best builders, developers, architects, designers and Realtors along with forward thinking city and county governments have helped FGBC promote a state of sustainability since 2000.
“The City of Aventura is committed to reducing our carbon footprint. A Florida Green city, we are certified by the FGBC. FGBC designates local governments Florida Green for outstanding environmental stewardship,” said City of Aventura Public Works and Transportation Director Joseph Kroll. “The program focuses on improving environmental performance through waste reduction, water conservation, air quality improvements and many other criteria.
The process of becoming Florida Green is an opportunity to improve existing programs, start new programs and set an example to the community to improve environmental sustainability.”
Florida Green is a valuable tool that guides home owners through the process of selecting green features that are cost-effective and benefit the environment, while fitting a builder or developer’s portfolio.
“There have been impressive advances in the way homes and buildings are constructed, especially in the areas of technology and building science,” said FGBC executive director C.J. Davila. “Since application of these practices can vary greatly from one builder to another, FGBC created specific Florida Green, certifying that a builder or contractor has applied the industry’s latest and best practices for sustainable, green construction. “
As a local certification program Florida Green offers numerous benefits to the builder, developer, homeowner and municipality that homeowner lives in.
- Energy performance – Exceeds code requirements and reduces energy costs.
- Water conservation – Reduces water usage both inside and outside the home.
- Site conditions – Minimal site disturbance and utilization of native plants.
- Healthier home – Use of products and materials to create a healthier interior environment.
- Materials – Use of locally produced, resource-efficient materials and recycled content.
- Disaster mitigation – The ability to withstand natural disaster and pests such as termites.