The Lake Club Leads the Way in Green Development

Posted by Mike Wilson and Nicole Wojno — September 18, 2007

BRADENTON, Fla. – (Sept. 19, 2007) – When it comes to Green Building, The Lake Club marches ahead of time and goes to the head of the class. A spate of awards has helped define Florida’s newest prestige address for its unshakable commitment to the environment, to energy consciousness and to economic common sense.“I think green development is important for everybody today,” said Bob Sisum, director of builder programs for LWR Communities LLC, developer of The Lake Club. “It’s because of what the cost of fuel is today, the cost of taxes and a variety of other things that we have to make home ownership more available for everybody. So, if you’re not being energy-conscious, you’re behind the 8-ball.”Indeed, recent awards won by The Lake Club and by Lakewood Ranch have not only raised LWR Communities’ nationwide cachet in luxury residential, resort-style development, they’ve reinforced what Brian Pruett of Sarasota, one of those award-winning builders, remarked about southwest Florida: “It’s the hotbed for Green Building across the state and even the Southeastern United States.”In Florida particularly, Green Building is also a cost-effective response to the times in which we live, said Tom Danahy, president of LWR Communities and a longtime member of the Urban Land Institute. “A couple of years ago, the building requirements got a little tighter, partially because of the hurricanes,” Danahy explained. “But as the code got tighter, the adjustments to go green became less, and the builders got better at their techniques, so cost is not as much of a factor as it once was.”The Lake Club itself won an Aurora Award in the “Green Construction-over 500 acres” category at the recent 2007 Southeast Building Conference in Orlando.  Here, residents are moving in, 40 homes are under construction and as many as 1,090 custom-estate residences (in classic styles including Mediterranean, French Country and English Estate) are planned amid lush parks, interconnecting lakes and Old World streetscapes.Seven more Aurora Awards went to three Lake Club homebuilders for luxury residences within the development’s Showcase Circle of 10 luxurious homes:--Naples-based Landmark Development Group won a prestigious Grand Aurora Award for model homes priced at $3 million or more. Landmark’s West Indies-inspired Grand Cayman home (9,810 square feet, five bedrooms, six baths, a home theater and resort-style pool area endowed with a summer kitchen, spa and retractable screens) also received Aurora Awards for “Interior Merchandising” and “Detached Single Family Home.”--Anchor Builders’ The Savoy (a French-styled model boasting 8,758 square feet, four bedrooms, four baths and two half-baths) won an Aurora Award for “Single Family Detached.”--Marc Rutenberg’s The Tradewinds (Spanish Mediterranean, 9,972 square feet, four bedrooms, four baths, two powder baths and four-car garage) collected an Aurora Award in three categories: “Custom Home,” “Kitchen” and “Bathroom.”Moreover, Brian Pruett, president of Pruett Builders, a regional pioneer in energy-efficient homes (including The Cyprus on Showcase Circle), joined Landmark as one of three Sarasota-Manatee area homebuilders to win the Grand Aurora Award. The property cited was Pruett’s 9,450-square-foot Mediterranean Revival, five-bedroom home in a Sarasota development.This year’s Aurora Awards competition attracted 345 entries from builders, architects, interior designers and landscape architects, among other homebuilding professionals, in 12 Southeastern states from Texas to Virginia.The judges cited such green building resourcefulness as drought-tolerant plants (to reduce water needs), recycling of 75 percent of the building’s waste, “friction track” flooring (sections of carpet adhere to the slab and are removable easily, without having to rely on toxic glues or other chemicals), oversized and energy-saving windows and low-flow plumbing.It’s all an integral part of LWR Communities’ mandate to all builders in Lakewood Ranch’s new areas that they must construct green, reported Bob Sisum. “The different builders selected different green items to include in their homes,” he said, citing one Lake Club builder, Todd Johnston, who installed a photovoltaic (solar energy) roof atop his West Indies-style 10,759-square-foot Mandalay Showcase Circle home, “so he’s generating his own power!”Johnston, too, is among the pioneers of making nonvented attics a key feature of Green Building. At the Mandalay, Johnston insulated the top, as well as the bottom, of the attic with spray foam so that, as he puts it, “the entire attic becomes an air-conditioned space.”“It’s more energy efficient,” he said. “It’s more structurally secure, not having the wind whistling through there. Previously, the air-conditioning ducts were running in a ventilated attic that was say, 140 degrees or close to it. Now, they’re running through a non-ventilated attic that’s around 80 degrees. That’s a big energy saving.”Green Building, Sisum added, also applies to landscaping throughout The Lake Club and Lakewood Ranch. “People moving here tend to say, ‘I want all the palm trees like I see in Miami Beach,’” he said. “But they need to know we have a different climate here. We receive frost here. We have different rainfalls here. So we urge them to plant more native vegetation that’s accustomed to the cold or warm or the lack of rain, or the influx of rain. It will thrive better, with less water. That goes too, for lawns.”For his part, Brian Pruett has long prided himself of building homes aimed at not just saving the planet but on extending the lives of those who live within them.He said he started putting up what he calls “health houses” during the 1990s by paying attention to improving indoor air quality  “because you spend 70 to 80 percent of your waking hours indoors.”“We may well be giving people one year, two years, three years, five years of additional living! The problem with indoor air quality is, people don’t immediately fall over dead. It’s as if you’re poisoned slowly; it takes 20 or 30 years for cause-and-effect. So upper-respiratory illnesses increase exponentially,” he said.Looking ahead both Tom Danahy and Bob Sisum anticipate even brighter years for Green Building. Lakewood Ranch, Danahy said, is exploring improvements such as becoming a “GEM (Global Electric Motorcars) Friendly” community, encouraging use of these environmentally friendly cars.  Other considerations include, porous pavements for streets, “where the rainwater will go through so you’ll have less runoff.”Cutting energy consumption can pay even bigger dividends if more homebuilders climb aboard and think “green,” added LWR Communities’ Tom Howe, vice president of project management, who works closely with The Lake Club’s builders.The Lake Club is the newest residential Village at Lakewood Ranch, the award winning 8,500-acre master-planned community located in Sarasota and Manatee counties on the west coast of Florida. All Lake Club homes will meet Florida Green Building Coalition standards for “green” homes and landscapes. For more information on The Lake Club at Lakewood Ranch, visit or call 866.498.LAKE (5253).The developer of Lakewood Ranch, LWR Communities, also raised the bar on environmental stewardship by moving into the 32,000-square-foot, two-story, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch corporate headquarters building, which became the first commercial building in Florida to be designated “green” by the Florida Green Building Coalition.

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