Article No: 123

2006-05-02 09:47:04
Florida Green Building Coalition awards WCI community certification
By: Concrete Homes


The Venetian Golf & River Club, a master-planned community by WCI Communities Inc., has reached another environmental and healthy home milestone, earning Green Development Design Standard certification by the Florida Green Building Coalition.

The Florida Green Building Coalition's (FGBC) certification is WCI's first for a master-planned community. Overall, The Venetian, based in Venice, Fla., is the fourth and latest development in Florida to pass the group's community-wide green building standards. Realizing the value this certification adds to a development project, a number of other developments throughout the state are also in the process of obtaining this environmental certification from FGBC.

"The Venetian Golf & River Club is a model for how residential development should be done in Florida, and we are pleased to present our Green Development Certification to WCI," said Roy O. Bonnell Jr., executive director of FGBC. "With the Myakka River running next to the development, WCI placed special emphasis on keeping the river clean with plants and retention areas to reduce water pollution. WCI also requires each home in The Venetian to be built to our certification standard making it a totally green development. This is a beautiful environmental community where the residents will not only reap the rewards of lower energy and water bills, but will also have healthier and safer homes to live in."

The Venetian community was third in the world to be certified as an Audubon International Gold Signature Residential Sustainable Development for its land development practices and was designed in accordance with Audubon International's principles of sustainability.

"We are thrilled to have met FGBC's rigorous certification standard and this recognition places The Venetian in the top tier of sustainable communities in Florida and across the United States," said Karen Childress, WCI's environmental stewardship manager. "At WCI we're committed to building sustainable communities, and as production builders, leading the industry to build homes and communities that are healthy and viable for residents and our environment."

To earn FGBC's certification, The Venetian passed a process of auditing and documenting its design and operating practices. The group's green building standards help reduce a community's effect on the environment and can improve the environmental value of land.

FGBC is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to promoting green building in Florida. To achieve certification, a land development must meet minimum requirements in the following categories: ecosystem and conservation of natural resources; creation of a green circulation system; green utilities practices; amenities that reduce environmental effects; incentives or requirements for green certified homes and commercial buildings; and education programs to help achieve green living practices.

FGBC guidelines encourage water conservation through budgeted irrigation and reclaimed water use as well as landscaping with native plants, which The Venetian uses liberally with a minimum of 50 percent native plants community-wide and 100 percent native vegetation on its 18-hole championship golf course. More than 2,600 trees have been added on the property's 1,100 acres.

To save and restore wildlife habitats, The Venetian has wildlife corridors between preserves where wildlife can traverse the property for food and water. Other green building considerations include prevention of runoff and protecting trees. To that end, The Venetian has three large preserve areas where wetlands have been restored from damaged pasture, and the introduction of native plants increased the property's biodiversity. Preserves are connected by wildlife corridors that are a minimum of 50 feet wide.

Every home built at The Venetian is designed to meet FGBC's 200-point, green home benchmark. The community's Casa Verde model, which was built with insulating concrete forms (ICFs) from GreenBlock, includes a green building demonstration center and more than 100 green and healthy home features. It was recently named "The Greenest Home in Florida" by FGBC, scoring 325 points (See story, August/September Concrete Homes). The previous record, 317 points, was held by WCI's Generation Green home in its Evergrene community in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Green points are awarded in eight areas: design, energy, water, site, health, materials, disaster mitigation and general. Homes at The Venetian are expected to improve indoor air quality, attain 30 percent greater energy efficiency and conserve water. About 60 percent of The Venetian is dedicated to conservation areas, wetlands, lakes and the golf course. The championship golf course, designed by architect Ted McAnliss, is an Audubon International Gold Signature course. Among the numerous amenities is a 70-acre nature park along the Myakka River for residents to enjoy the natural beauty of Florida.

WCI Communities (http://wci.wcicommunities.com) has been creating amenity-rich, master-planned lifestyle communities since 1946. Florida-based WCI and its Northeastern U.S. subsidiary, WCI Spectrum Communities, cater to primary, retirement and second-home buyers in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The company offers traditional and tower home choices with prices from the mid-$100,000s to more than $10 million.