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WCI's Venetian Golf and River Club Leads Florida In Green Model Home Certifications.

Business Editors/Real Estate Writers

VENICE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 9, 2003

Steve Walker is looking for one wall big enough to hang all the certifications for green building that Venetian Golf and River Club has earned. He needs the room because the community is quickly earning acclaim as one of the state's most environmentally friendly communities.

Walker, project manager for WCI'S newest community in south Sarasota County, has worked diligently to build more certified green model homes than any other development in Florida, according to Eric Martin of the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC), an organization that certifies homes based on achievement of standard criteria. Green certification indicates that a home includes environmental attributes and health benefits.

"WCI has the most green models certified in one community at this time," said Martin, chairman of the Green Home Standards Committee. "WCI is also the largest builder to have implemented FGBC green building standards in Florida."

In June, four model homes at Venetian were awarded green certification by Dr. Jennifer Languell, green building expert and certifier for FGBC. "All four of the models exceeded the 200 point minimum required to earn certification," Languell said. Points are awarded in eight areas: design, energy, water, site, health, materials, disaster mitigation and general. Green homes are expected to attain 30% greater energy efficiency, conserve water and provide a better indoor air quality.

Many of the green criteria in the standards were not new to WCI. "Before committing to green building, we were already building homes that came very close to meeting the requirements," said Kent Goff, architect for the community. "The materials we use such as tile on roofs, concrete block exterior walls and steel studs rate well for energy efficiency and for being recyclable. Other green elements that are also standard WCI practice is sealing of air conditioning ducts to prevent loss of cool air and caulking of all penetration points to prevent infiltration."

A few examples of taking the already high WCI standards into the greener realm included adding Energy Star appliances, higher SEER air conditioners and tinted windows. All are features that conserve energy.

To conserve water, native plants are used liberally in landscapes around homes and all plants with like water needs are grouped as xeriscapes. These design practices have earned Venetian models additional certification from the University of Florida's Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program (FYN). The FYN program looks at plant types, location, water requirements, irrigation and mulching practices when rating for certification.

Coming soon to Venetian is an "ultra" green demonstration model home due to break ground this summer. "The ultra green model will be loaded with feature options such as an air conditioning system that includes humidity control, electro static air filtering, and ultraviolet light treatment of air to kill mold and mildew," said Walker.

Products made from renewable sources, such as bamboo or cork flooring will be featured as well as 100% wool carpet.

In addition to FGBC and FYN certifications, the models have received certification from the EPA as Energy Star Homes, and from FPL for their BuildSmart program that certifies homes that are energy efficient.

WCI will seek certification of all seven of its models at Venetian. "Our goal is for all homes in the community to be certified green," says Walker. "Three other models are under review at this time."

On top of certifications earned by the models, the community of Venetian Golf and River Club is one of ten WCI communities in the Audubon International Sustainable Development Program. Audubon International is a national non-profit environmental organization that is not affiliated with the National Audubon Society.

The agreement between WCI and Audubon International was the first of its kind in the nation between a major home building company and an environmental organization. "The commitment in our agreement is to raise the bar on sustainable development and lead by example," said Jerry Starkey, President of WCI. "We're doing this not only because it's central to our development philosophy, but also because it's what homebuyers and the general public have come to expect from builders."

Now two years into the agreement, Venetian Golf and River Club is the first WCI - Audubon International community on the West Coast of Florida to offer green certified models. Ron Dodson, President of Audubon International said, "Green building is one aspect of our sustainable development program, and WCI is breaking new ground for a developer and home builder of this size by making such a commitment."

When asked about difficult issues in building the community to sustainable and green standards, Walker replied, "I wouldn't call it a problem. It's what our customers are looking for. The challenge is that the homes are in such demand that we are building them faster than the certification process can keep up with."

Venetian Golf and River Club is located on Laurel Road East of I-75.

Based in Bonita Springs, Fla., WCI has been creating master-planned communities for more than 50 years. WCI's award-winning communities offer primary, retirement, and second home buyers traditional and tower home choices with prices from $100,000 to more than $10 million and currently feature more than 600 holes of golf and 1,000 boat slips as well as country club, tennis and recreational facilities.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Jul 9, 2003
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