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Big and Small, LEED Projects Shine in Florida

A Zero-Net Energy Bank Branch and a LEED Gold High-Rise Are Reshaping Commercial Building in the Sunshine State
January 5, 2009
A rendering of Rilea Group's new high-rise office tower, 1450 Brickell, in Miami.
A rendering of Rilea Group's new high-rise office tower, 1450 Brickell, in Miami.
Two new projects seeking LEED Gold certification that could not be more different -- a tiny bank branch and a colossal office tower -- are resetting the bar for sustainable real estate projects of all sizes in Florida.

In the Tampa suburb of Lakeland, Community First Credit Union is developing what aims to be the state’s first zero-net energy commercial building. The branch, which has broken ground and will total a little more than 4,000 square feet, will feature a roof-mounted solar array that produces almost 20 percent more electricity than the building uses annually.

State-of-the-art insulation and energy-efficient mechanical systems and lighting will reduce the building’s energy requirements by an anticipated 40 percent, and low flow plumbing fixtures and a rainwater reuse system could reduce potable water consumption by 80 percent.

“With unstable energy prices and the move for a greener environment, we wanted to be one of the first in this area as well as the state of Florida to build an environmentally friendly branch,” said John Santarpia, president and CEO of the $100 million credit union.

Straughn Trout Architects designed the building to partially wrap around an ice cream shop that will remain open during the construction. The decision is not only earning the project LEED points for sustainable site development, but it’s a money-saver too: the connected buildings will have fewer exterior walls exposed to the Florida heat, which will lower air conditioning costs for both structures.

Folsom Construction is the contractor and Solar-Ray Inc. of Orlando is providing the solar power system.

A few hours away in Miami’s prestigious Brickell submarket, Rilea Group is developing what could be the city’s first LEED Gold office tower, a 35-story high-rise at 1450 Brickell Ave. Seventy-five percent of construction waste from the nearly 600,000-square-foot project is being recycled, and 35 percent of the building’s electricity will come from off-site renewable energy sources.

In a statement, Rilea said it would encourage tenants to build-out their space in the tower to additional LEED specifications, which some property owners have begun to require. “Soon, LEED certification will be the rule, not the exception,” said Alan Ojeda, CEO of Rilea Group.

NBWW & Associates designed the property, and Spinnaker Group advised Rilea on sustainability at the tower. Delivery is scheduled for early 2010.

Rilea developed the 30-story Mellon Financial Center in 2000 and completed the 371-unit One Broadway apartment high-rise in 2007, both of which are in Miami.

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