Willis A. Smith Construction pioneered the Green Building movement

It has been six years since Willis A. Smith Construction pioneered the Green Building movement in Sarasota with the construction of their LEEDTM Gold 18,000 square foot headquarters. At that time, few others had attempted this type of construction in the Sarasota/Manatee area. The team at Willis Smith forged ahead in combining function with sustainability to show the community that Green construction was a viable alternative to traditional methods of construction.

Learning valuable lessons as they went, the building performed better than expected, immediately reducing the firm’s overall energy consumption by 60 percent. Today, the Willis Smith headquarters stand as an admirable example of what the future of Green building can look like.

So why the latest investment in additional solar panels? “You have to keep growing, learning and adapting and one way for us to do that was to push the envelope of what we thought we were capable of. A lot has changed in the technologies since 2008,” Dave Sessions reports.

After reviewing the latest advances in solar panel technologies, the firm sought to expand their onsite solar capacity, and employed Brilliant Harvest, a locally owned and operated certified solar contractor based in Sarasota. Bill Johnson, President of Brilliant Harvest, adds “the three new solar panel arrays we installed at Willis Smith Construction are nearly four times as powerful,  30% more efficient, and yet nearly sixty percent less expensive per watt than the original array we installed in 2009.  This just shows how fast solar technology is improving.” The new panels provide an additional 47,520 watts of power to the building, translating to an estimated 69,500 kilowatt hours per year of electricity produced. “Combined with the previous array’s output, the energy produced completely offsets all electricity consumption in the building,” said Bill Johnson.

Amidst the daily news of human impacts on the environment, this movement is a step in the right direction for preserving our limited resources and reversing a small footprint of that impact. “The average building in Florida has enough rooftop space for solar to completely offset all onsite electrical use, but today, over 90% of the energy consumed in Florida comes

from out of state. If we could get everyone to participate in solar energy, we would be using the only energy resource Florida has an abundance of, which is sunshine” Bill Johnson stated.

So what is the future for Willis A. Smith Construction’s sustainability efforts? “We will keep adapting where we can, in any way we can,” said Dave Sessions.

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