The Florida Green Building Coalition awarded its first “Green Development” certification to Verandah, a 1,456-acre master-planned community being developed by The Bonita Bay Group along the Orange River in Fort Myers, Florida.Fort Myers, Florida – May 5, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Green developments of this type are especially beneficial in Florida where development sprawl and water conservation issues place an increasing burden on the environment and energy resources. The Florida Green Building Coalition, which created the nation’s first voluntary, non-government standards targeting an entire state, said Verandah’s development practices will reduce the burden on the environment, protect natural ecosystems, conserve natural resources, create environmentally responsible amenities, and provide “green” education to buyers and residents — far exceeding minimum Florida regulations. Certification through the coalition requires developments to achieve a minimum cumulative score in six categories. “This is no easy task and takes considerable dedication to achieve,” said Rob Vieira, founding chairman of the nonprofit coalition and buildings research division director for the Florida Solar Energy Center. “I am particularly impressed with the upland preservation at Verandah, the transplantation of large trees, and plans for metering irrigation water in order to preserve resources.” In designing Verandah, The Bonita Bay Group team preserved wildlife habitat, restored historic flow ways and created a protective conservation easement along the community’s 1.75-mile stretch of riverfront. Nearly 65 percent of the property will be open space, including natural preserve areas, parks, wetlands, lakes, golf course and more than nine miles of walkways and fitness trails. All single-family model homes will be built to the coalition’s green home certification standards, as well. “Verandah represents the next logical step in The Bonita Bay Group’s long history of creating environmentally friendly and sustainable communities,” said Dennis Gilkey, president/CEO of The Bonita Bay Group, the Bonita Springs, Fla.-based developer. “Our plans for developing Verandah as a green community were well in place when the coalition adopted its standards. We are very pleased to become the first development within Florida to be recognized for building to these higher standards.” The Florida Green Building Coalition is an independent, nonprofit organization that formed in 2000 with the goal of developing green building standards for homes, land developments, municipalities and commercial buildings in Florida. The Bonita Bay Group is a diversified company involved in the planning, development, sales and management of master-planned communities and free- standing recreational facilities throughout Southwest Florida.