"Builder Says Green is the Way of the Future"

12/30/2006

GREEN IS THE LATEST COLOR FOR WILLIS A. SMITH CONSTRUCTION, INC. SARASOTA – David Sessions, President of Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc., has successfully completed the requirements for the nationally recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional designation. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded the accreditation to Sessions after a formal examination on Nov. 28.

Willis A. Smith is currently the only construction manager in Sarasota that is a member of the USGBC, promoting sustainability. “Building green is the way of the future” said Sessions. “The concept of sustainability is still very new, especially to commercial construction managers, but in a couple of years, many will be parading their green association.”

Sarasota County Government is part of the fast growing movement to the building and living green strategy. Their green building program started in 1999 and they are also a member of the USGBC. The county “is working to achieve sustainability by balancing economic development with environmental preservation and social equality. Their goal is a strong and healthy community where all citizens have equal opportunity to a high quality of life.” They are also working with “local business networks to develop Sarasota County as a green business hub for the Southeast U.S.”

Inc. Headquarters building in Lakewood Ranch includes energy efficient and environmentally friendly construction. For example, the headquarters incorporated features such as a more efficient refrigerant that contains less CFC, use of energy recovery ventilators as part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system as well as drought tolerant landscaping and water efficient irrigation. Often green buildings cost no more to construct than regular structures. And the benefits over the lifecycle of the building’s use are significant. Even in instances where LEED certified buildings do carry an initial cost that is slightly higher due to unique products and applications, the long term savings far overshadows a slightly more expensive initial cost. A very powerful tool in Sarasota is the green-building ordinance. If a project meets Sarasota County Planning & Development Services’ green guidelines, permitting for the construction is fast tracked. What is normally a three to five week process becomes a guaranteed five days.

“Time is money,” said Paul Radaukas, Building Official for the county Another incentive to building green is that a thousand dollars of the permit fee is refunded once the building is certified green by Florida Green Building Coalition or the USGBC.

As for Sarasota, many in the county started joining the green bandwagon about three years ago. More and more houses and buildings are being built green each year.

“In another year, about 30 percent of the construction will be green buildings” said Radaukus. “At this rate, we are calculating that in two years time, 50 percent of the new construction will be built green.” Many people are slowly starting to realize the long term benefits of sustainability. Lower heating and cooling bills, lower water expenses and improved air quality are just some of the rewards for building green. This is where Willis A. Smith Construction plays a vital role. With already three LEED Accredited Professionals in the company, David Sessions, President, Warren Simonds, Director of Client Relations, and Ben Sasse, Project Manager and another four more currently preparing to be accredited, WASC is the company to turn to for green construction. WASC has several more green projects in planning stages.

“Green seems to be latest color trend,” said Sessions. USGBC is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders from every sector of the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. Its’ purpose is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated. This enables an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. It gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance.

Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc. is a Sarasota based construction firm primarily serving Southwest Florida since 1972. Currently the oldest construction company in Sarasota, the corporation enjoys an excellent reputation with a solid background in commercial, industrial, educational, healthcare and museum work.