Housing Partnership Officially 'Sustainable'
When Hancock Place, a workforce housing development in West Augustine, was in its infancy about eight years ago, St. Johns County officials were told energy efficiency and water conservation would be foremost in the development's houses.
Bill Lazar, executive director of the St. Johns Housing Partnership, made that commitment and the city of St. Augustine and St. Johns County departments got on board to provide water and sewer hookups and roadways.
Lazar drew others in private industry with him, including Robert Marshall, owner of World Island Builders, who became the project's general contractor.
The result was 36 eco-friendly homes, every one of them green-certified. The green components in those 1,300-square foot homes not only protect our environment but they help homeowners save on maintenance and operating costs.
This project allowed the Housing Partnership to work on low interest financing and down payment assistance, too. That's a major accomplishment in itself.
What Lazar and Marshall and the team did not know back then was that Hancock Place would become one of the state's top sustainable communities. Last month, Hancock Place and the Housing Partnership received the Collins Center for Public Policy's Sustainable Florida Best Practices Award for green building. They competed against 13 other projects and individuals statewide.
Other categories in which awards were given for the 12th year are: large business, small business, nonprofit, leadership, government and business partnership.
In choosing the winners from 109 entries, judges looked for outcomes achieved, the ability to duplicate the effort and the overall success of the initiative.
For the Housing Partnership to rise to the top in this competition speaks well for its efforts on Hancock Place and everything else it touches in our community.
The award elevates the Housing Partnership and Hancock Place to Sustainable Florida's ambassador status. The partnership becomes a role model for others statewide.
Who knows how many versions of Hancock Place will spring
up around Florida in the future because of Sustainable Florida's award?
But the goal for Hancock Place was not awards, although it has garnered several others in energy efficiency from federal agencies and from the state in water conservation. The goal is to help people get into the most affordable and energy-efficient homes in our community. The Hancock Place project truly lives up to Sustainable Florida -- Collins Center's commitment to the environment and the economy. Tim Center, executive director, sums that commitment up with regard to the 2010 awards finalists: "There is a tide turning in our society. More companies, governmental agencies and organizations are moving to a new economic model that understands and takes into account the environmental and social concerns of our state."
Our good fortune is that a seed planted in St. Johns County will grow around Florida and the nation because of this honor, too.