Company Builds Green Office

Company Builds Green Office LAKEWOOD RANCH - Recently, President Obama talked about the need for our nation to embrace green technologies and sustainable practices in the future. And one Suncoast construction company is already doing that. Willis A. Smith Construction has built a state of the art totally green headquarters in Lakewood Ranch. And as the company now touts, they are green by choice.

The company has built or refurbished some of the most well-known buildings on the Suncoast: The Ringling Museum, the historic Asolo Theater, the Sarasota Opera House, the new Southside Elementary... and most recently, the Suncoast Polytechnical High School.

But the building they're likely most proud of these days is their own. "We recognized that if we were going to be the experts in green building, we better know everything about it...and that's just not going to class, not just reading a lot of material, that's doing it yourself," says VP & CEO Warren G. Simonds.

The company's new headquarters in Lakewood Ranch will soon be certified LEED Gold, about as high a green rating as you can get on a building its size.

So what makes it green? First there's the exterior walls. "These forms are basically made out of styrofoam with metal in the middle with solid concrete poured in there. These can withstand 200-mph wind." Strong and very energy efficient.

The building is topped by a cool roof that reflects the sun's light and heat. There are also 60 solar panels on the roof that will contribute 18% of the building's energy use. "That's 18% we don't have to draw off the grid."

Want to park up close? Better have a fuel efficient car or be carpooling.

The landscaping is all Florida-friendly and there's no water thirsty turf grass. The plants that are there are fed with the water that comes from above. It comes off the roof, down tubes, and into two underground 3,000 gallon cisterns.

That rain water is also used inside, in the building's toilets...dual flush, of course.

The bathrooms and most of the offices use motion-activated lights, which only come on when you're using the room. Most of the light is provided by mother nature, through the windows and sunlights.

And it's a healthy work environment, too. And that means more productive workers. "And it makes a lot of sense, because think about're in a building where you're not breathing in volatile organic compounds, you're not breathing in the fumes from glues and carpets and all this stuff around're going to be a healthier person."

Even the products used to clean the building are eco-friendly. The construction company hopes their new headquarters inspires its clients to build green as well.

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