Mirabella Homes “LEED” to Huge Savings for Home Buyers

BRADENTON, Fla., Sept. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Linda Lawrence was stunned when she opened her first month’s electric bill. It was $40.67. Unheard of in Florida.

“I keep my thermostat at 77 degrees,” she said, “And it actually feels chilly.”

Lawrence was the first to buy a villa in Mirabella, a new development near the Gulf beaches, Sarasota/Bradenton, and the IMG sports community.

leed homes

Marshall Gobuty is Mirabella’s developer. “I’m terribly concerned about global warming and what it will mean for the Florida’s future,” he said. “I’m building the most energy-efficient homes in the United States. The houses are designed to save water as well as electricity. Building materials are recycled. “All this adds only about five per cent to the cost of these homes,” Gobuty says, “And they have everything it takes for LEED certification.”

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the U.S. Green Building Council’s way to measure five design categories aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of new homes, while increasing the living qualities of those homes at the same time. The five ways in which certified homes are measured are:

leed home florida
Sustainable sites
: this emphasizes the vital relationships among buildings, ecosystems, and ecosystem services.

Water efficiency
, which is based on an “efficiency first” approach to water conservation.

Energy and atmosphere, focusing on energy use reduction and energy-efficient design.

Materials and resources, which supports a life-cycle approach that improves performance and promotes resource efficiency.

Indoor environmental quality for air quality and comfort.

Of the 647,800 single-family homes build in the United States in 2014, less than one per cent met LEED standards. The percentage meeting those criteria on the Gulf Coast of Florida was even smaller, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Mirabella’s LEED certified homes use nearly 40 percent less energy than what is used in a typical home. They feature Energy Star appliances manufactured by companies including GE, Carrier, Argos, Shaw and Atrium.
Plumbing features include EPA WaterSense faucets, toilets, showers and irrigation controllers, which help reduce water consumption significantly — with no reduction in overall performance.

Homes are inspected for quality control during each phase of the building process. Synergy Building Corp., the lead builder of Mirabella, insures that almost all construction waste is recycled.

Peggy Christ, who is with the Governing Council of a USGBC branch in Southwest Florida, said the biggest benefit that people get when buying a LEED certified home is a healthier home with less maintenance.

“These are the most energy-efficient homes in the country,” Christ said. “It’s a win-win situation for the buyer and what they’ve done is just phenomenal.”

New LEED homes also offer a spray foam insulation that provides a barrier up to 50 percent tighter and more effective against moisture and allergens. High-end vinyl windows help keep cool air indoors and drastically reduce bleaching of floors and furniture – which in turn help drive energy costs further down.

Clarence Jones owned a home on nearby Anna Maria Island before relocating to similar-sized house in Mirabella. He has been saving nearly $200 a month on his electric bill. Jones credits that to the insulation that was installed when his home was built earlier this year.

“During the summer my electric bill would have been over $250, but the highest it’s been here in Mirabella is $60,” Jones said. “The temperatures in my house and in my attic are rarely more than 10 degrees apart — and an attic in Florida can be 150 degrees in the middle of the summer.”

All of these energy-friendly features recently helped Mirabella win three prestigious Aurora Awards. Mirabella was tops in Green Construction categories “Green Construction,” “Water-Wise Home” and “Energy Efficient Home.”

In addition to the Aurora Awards, Mirabella just earned LEED Platinum level certification. That is the highest level of certification a home can maintain and the only one that’s earned that level in the state of Florida, according to Christ.

Mirabella’s villa homes start at $270,880 and average around 1,500 square feet of living space. Comparable homes on Florida’s Gulf Coast that lack the environmentally-friendly features of a LEED certified home start in the low to mid-$300,000’s.

Christ said that today’s homebuyers – particularly retirees on a fixed income – are looking for long-term savings on energy costs. This is particularly true in Florida, where air conditioning systems run year-round. 

“LEED Platinum certified homes are exceedingly rare, particularly in this price range,” Christ said. “These homes should be worth 10 to 15 percent more than they are because of the way they help you save on energy costs. They’ll also have high resale value.”

Mirabella promotes an active adult lifestyle featuring first-class amenities that include gated entry with 24-hour security cameras, large clubhouse, heated swimming pool and spa, fenced-in dog park, pickle-ball courts, a modern fitness center, and an outdoor kitchen and barbecue area.

There are also several events each week that are aimed at bringing the community together. Marc Dillworth, who resides in Mirabella with wife Melea, says the couple has gotten to know a lot of their neighbors through the social gatherings.

“We came from a single-family home where you were on your own,” Marc Dillworth said. “People are kind of isolated, but here it’s more of a community feeling and this is what we want in this phase of our lives. It’s a lot of fun and we’re very happy.”
Gobuty said he’s leaving the door open for another LEED-based development in the future.

“I’ve learned to never say never, and anything is possible,” he said. “What I have learned from the Mirabella Florida development is that being environmentally sound, sustainable and friendly to the Earth is a crucial component as the buyers we attract are willing to pay a little bit more for something a whole lot better. That means instead of being just a part of any next development, it would be at the center of it.”

For more information, visit www.MirabellaFlorida.com


Hot-Selling Soul Electric Vehicle Will be Available for Sale in Georgia, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Hawaii

Following the successful launch of the Soul EV late last year in California, Kia Motors America (KMA) is proud to announce it is expanding availability of its fullycharged urban runabout into five new states: Georgia, Texas, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. Electric vehicle demand has been growing in these states, and consumers there have expressed significant interest in Soul EV.


With more than 1,800 charging stations combined, the robust EV infrastructure within these markets makes battery-powered travel convenient and an increasingly appealing choice for consumers. Within each state, select Kia retailers will be certified to sell and service the Soul EV, and customers will have access to charging stations installed at these facilities. The Soul EV-authorized Kia dealership locations will be announced closer to the Soul EV’s on-sale date in the expansion states later this year. Additional markets are set to come online in 2016.


“From the inception of the Soul EV program, Kia’s sales strategy has been progressive and pragmatic,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, KMA. “With the level of demand and supporting infrastructure in the state, California was a natural place to start, but we’ve been carefully studying other markets. Between consumer reaction to the Soul EV and growinginfrastructure programs in these five states, this is a logical – and exciting – next step in our rollout plan.”

Kia has called Georgia home since the late-2006 groundbreaking for the $1-billion Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) assembly plant in West Point, and it’s where the second phase of the Soul EV’s expansion will kick off. Sales are set to begin during the second quarter in the “Peach State,” and Soul EV owners will easily be able to locate the 2842 charging stations statewide using the standard UVO EV Services3 telematics system. Available at no cost for the first five years of ownership, UVO EV Services utilizes an embedded connectivity solution powered by the Verizon4 network and an integral smartphone app to provide Soul EV owners with an innovative, real-time, in-vehicle connectivity experience that includes navigation and a host of added convenience features.

Following the Soul EV’s expansion into Georgia, four other states – Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Texas – KMA continues to investigate the possibility of offering the Soul EV in other states as well. Offered in two trims, Base and + (Plus), the 2015 Soul EV MSRP5 is $33,700 (not including federal tax rebate of $7,500) for the Base and $35,700 (not including federal tax rebate of $7,500) for the Plus. A lease price of $249/month for the Soul EV Base6 is also available.

About the 2015 Soul EV
As the centerpiece of the Kia’s ‘Clean Mobility’ efforts, the Soul EV is the embodiment of the brand’s environmentally focused mission, transforming the hip urban crossover into Kia’s first mass-market, all-electric zero emissions vehicle to be sold in the U.S. Combining the iconic design of the Soul with advanced eco-friendly technology has landed the Soul EV in a class all its own. Honored with an industry-first automotive environmental validation by Underwriters Laboratory (UL)7for its innovative use of bio-based materials, the Soul EV also has an EPA estimated range rating of 93 miles8 with an MPGe8 of 92 miles highway and 120 miles city for a combined mileage of 105 miles.

The Soul EV makes charging easy by plugging into any standard 120v outlet or a conventional 240v EV charger. Two charging ports are standard, including a SAE J1772 port for Level 1 and Level 2 AC, and a CHAdeMo DC fast-charging port (480v). Found behind a sliding door located in the front grille, the dual ports offer flexibility and increase the Soul EV’s go-anywhere appeal, making it more convenient to charge inside the owner’s garage or when on the road. Recharging times vary from 24 hours for a fully depleted battery using a standard 120v outlet and under five hours when plugged into a 240v outlet. An 80-percent charge can be achieved from empty in as little as 33 minutes with a 50 kW-output DC fast charger. Kia has partnered with three charger providers – Bosch, Leviton® and AeroVironment™ – which give Soul EV buyers an opportunity to select the unit best suited to their in-home needs.

The front-wheel drive Soul EV is powered by a 109-hp (81.4kW) electric motor, producing a generous 210 lb.-ft. of instantaneous torque. The liquid-cooled AC synchronous permanent magnet motor uses multi-layer magnets to help improve efficiency and reduce the whine common to most electric vehicles. The motor delivers its power to the front wheels through a single-speed constant-ratio gear reduction unit. The battery’s location beneath the floor results in a lower center of gravity, which helps ride and handling and ensures that the EV remains true to the Soul’s fun-to-drive reputation. Additional cross bracing beneath the low-mounted battery contributes to a 5.9 percent improvement in torsional rigidity over the gasoline-powered Soul and offers protection to the battery.

In an effort to maximize efficiency and range, the Soul EV uses Kia’s third-generation regenerative braking system to capture up to 12 percent of the car’s kinetic energy, which is fed back into the battery while the Soul EV is coasting and braking. Soul EV owners can choose between four drive mode combinations: “Drive” or “Brake” modes in Eco-mode “Off,” and “Drive” or “Brake” modes in Eco-mode “On” (the “Brake” or “B” setting with Eco-mode “On” producing the most regeneration).

Source: Kia Motors America

NuTerra Breaks Ground on State-of-the-Art Haines City Organics Recycling Facility

First aerated static pile (ASP) facility in Florida provides most economical approach

JACKSONVILLE and HAINES CITY, Fla.—NuTerra, a trusted project and service delivery partner to the wastewater and biosolids management industry, today announced the groundbreaking of a new organics recycling facility that initiates the second phase of Haines City’s plan to produce a high-quality compost product to be offered to residents and surrounding communities for lawns, athletic fields, golf courses and agriculture. In his remarks at the groundbreaking, NuTerra CEO Aaron Zahn credited Haines City for its environmental leadership.

“As one of the few municipalities with state-of-the-art wastewater treatment and composting facilities, Haines City is demonstrating its environmental leadership. The new facility will be the first of its kind in Florida, providing the most economical and environmentally friendly approach to organics recycling.”

Using NuTerra’s proprietary process control system, the facility continuously monitors and automates the composting process. This streamlined approach eliminates the need to reposition probes and avoids disruption of the process from exposure to rain, humidity, and other factors that impact the active composting and curing processes. NuTerra’s facility design ensures a high-quality end product and minimal odor nuisances for nearby neighbors.

NuTerra Haines City Organics Recycling Facility groundbreaking in Haines City Fl. Thursday May 14, 2015. Ernst Peters/The Ledger.
NuTerra Haines City Organics Recycling Facility groundbreaking in Haines City Fl. Thursday May 14, 2015. Ernst Peters/The Ledger.

Haines City Utility Director Mike Stripling said, “NuTerra is making it economically possible to live up to our States’s high environmental standards. By recycling and reusing biosolids, yard waste, and other organic waste, we’re reducing disposition costs with far fewer trips to the landfill and mitigating nutrient and ground water pollution. The facility will provide surrounding communities an economically and environmentally advantageous outlet for their organics waste. In addition, offsetting the use of commercial fertilizers with compost by our local athletic fields will result in superior water retention properties and allow for the slow release of beneficial nutrients.”

NuTerra designed the new facility and will build, operate, and maintain it at the wastewater treatment plant’s property site.


ST. PETERSBURG, FL (April 24, 2015) – In honor of Earth Day, Mayor Rick Kriseman recently unveiled the newest sustainability feature of the city’s Sunlit City Parks program – a solar-powered mobile device charging station.

Thesolar charging stations charging station features four clear-cover enclosures for users to store and charge mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Two of the enclosures are sized for standard-size phones and two are larger to accommodate small tablets and larger smartphones.

A photovoltaic panel atop the station charges a sealed 12-volt battery. The battery powers the four-slot 48-watt USB power hub that can supply up to 2.4 amps of charging capacity per slot. (The stations do not provide alternating current (AC). Laptops and other devices using AC power cannot be charged using these stations.) Non-user accessible electronics are housed in a lockable enclosure mounted below the table for easy access. In addition, the charger’s controller has optional capacity for programmable nighttime lighting or other power needs that can be added to the station. Installed on a modular foundation, the station can be placed on any solid, level surface while retaining the ability to be moved to another location or stored if necessary.

SunSuresolar powered street charging station Living, a local St. Petersburg company, designed the charging station. City employees were responsible for manufacturing. Each station costs approximately $2500 including fabrication and installation. Locations where charging stations will be installed include Crescent Lake Dog Park, Lake Vista Dog Park, Walter Fuller Dog Park and two locations in Vinoy Park.

Sustainability continues to be a cornerstone of Mayor Kriseman’s Administration and an important component of Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin’s Healthy City Initiative. On April 18, St. Petersburg celebrated Earth Day with its second annual free festival in South Straub Park along the cities renowned waterfront. While this was the second official Earth Day festival for St. Pete, the city is leading the way in Florida by implementing strategies for a sustainable future. St. Petersburg was the first city in the state to receive the Green Building Coalition’s Green City designation, and has been recognized for energy conservation, recycling, water conservation, fuel efficiency, landscaping and preservation of open spaces, and other environmental programs.

Source: City of St. Petersburg

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Completion of National Wetlands Database and Interactive Mapping Tool


Image info: Coastal and other wetlands in the United States can be identified online by the Service’s mapping tool. Photo: Wetland in Big Pine Key, FL, by USFWS

May 1, 2014

Most comprehensive data set yet of wetlands in U.S. states and territories will aid developers, city planners, regulators in advancing wetland conservation, economic development

Coastal and other wetlands in the United States can be identified online by the Service’s mapping tool. Photo: Wetland in Big Pine Key, FL, by USFWS

To coincide with American Wetlands Month, which begins May 1, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the completion of the most comprehensive and detailed U.S. wetland data set ever produced, capping a 35-year effort by the Service to map the extent of the nation’s wetlands.

The Wetlands Inventory Mapper (http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Data/Mapper.html) has digitally mapped and made publically available wetlands in the lower 48 states, Hawaii and dependent territories, as well as 35 % of Alaska. It is an invaluable aid to landowners, developers, government planners and permitting authorities, conservation organizations and academic institutions in their collective efforts to ensure wetland conservation and inform economic development.

“The completion of this wetland dataset marks a significant milestone in national efforts to conserve wetlands in the United States,” said Gary Frazer, the Service’s Assistant Director for Ecological Services. “Wetlands are critical ecosystems that support an astounding diversity of plant and animal life, and provide essential ecological services; yet wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate. This online mapper is a key tool in the ever-more challenging quest to maintain the health of our wetland habitats and the biodiversity they sustain.”

Wetlands provide habitat for thousands of species of fish, wildlife and plants, and act as nurseries for many saltwater and freshwater fishes and shellfish of commercial significance. They also provide important ecological services such as flood control, water filtration and the supply of groundwater, and they provide recreational and wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of people.

Wetlands are facing numerous, ongoing challenges, such as agriculture, development and resource extraction, as well as sea level rise, increasing storm severity and drought due to climate change.

Between 2004 and 2009, the reported average annual rate of wetland loss in the coastal watersheds was 80,160 acres. This demonstrates that the target of “no net loss” of wetlands in coastal areas is not yet being achieved.

To access the wetlands data and mapping tool, and learn more about the National Wetlands Inventory, visit: http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Data/index.html

Source: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service