Two miles east of Capital Circle lies Southern Oaks, Leon County’s first and only sustainable residential community. The official groundbreaking took place on March 25.
The newly built homes will be certified to meet the Green Building Standard’s strict criteria for energy-efficiency and sustainability.
The community is within walking distance of Miccosukee greenway, an area with over six miles of canopy trails and open space.
According to Florida Green Building Coalition Executive Director, Suzanne Cook, the energy-efficient homes will not only save the new home buyers money, but will also reduce costs for the city.
“Less demand on the utility company, when multiplied by the number of people, can reduce the amount of required infrastructure that the utility company needs to supply power to community,” Cook said.
To be certified to green living standards, Cook explained that each of the homes must score at least 100 out of 300 in the sustainability criteria. It is up to the home buyers which features they would like for their home. Water conservation, quality indoor air, and low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) however are a few of the requirements that go into each of the homes.
The price range for sustainable housing in this community is around $400k to $700k, but the return on investment immediately pays off.
“In the form of saving on your energy and water bill, you see that return the day you move in,” Mike Rogers, co-partner in the Southern Oaks project, said.
The community intended to break grounds in 2007, but the downturn of the economy prevented them from doing so. Though the recession was deeper than anyone predicted, Rogers explains that he wouldn’t give up.
“It was still the right kind of project and the right way to do it; you don’t give up when the process gets difficult,” Rogers said.
Mark Kessler, owner of Kessler Construction and co-partner in the Southern Oaks project, outlines the different approach taken when constructing a green home compared to a non-green home.
“Educating the public about green building is important and we hope to make an impact with this project,” Kessler said.
80 percent of the construction debris will be recycled and a third party company will be involved in verifying that the home is built to FGBC standards.