Cover Story - Green Building
Water-supply woes, energy costs and environmental concerns are pushing green building practices into the mainstream in Florida.
What: Building practices that conserve energy and resources, involving building materials, landscaping, appliances, lighting, plumbing and approaches to site selection, heating and cooling.
Why: Buildings are the biggest drain on energy and natural resources. Using solar power, trees to the east and west to shade houses, energy-efficient appliances, landscaping with drought-tolerant plants and rainwater to flush toilets can help save natural resources and money. Green buildings also can be healthier for the people who work or live in them.
How: The U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program (usgbc.org) is the national standard for commercial structures. The Florida Green Building Coalition (floridagreenbuilding.org) also offers green-building designations, including one for homes, which are not yet covered by LEED. Audubon International's sustainable development program (auduboninternational.org) is considered the most rigorous for community developments. Developers win certification by racking up minimum numbers of points in key categories, including energy, water, site selection and design, health and materials.