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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Building for the Future: EcoSmart Worldwide Makes it Easy Being Green

Apr 02, 2014 05:59PM ● By Thomas masloski

EcoSmart Worldwide, LLC, is a Florida-based educational consulting, design integration and green products purchasing company. Aptly named, EcoSmart is committed to educating green-hungry consumers, as well as industry professionals, about green products, ideas and services, and how to be smart when they go green. Their expertise in approved energy-efficient building products and services includes retrofitting existing properties, as well as cutting-edge, eco-friendly new homes and commercial construction.

The firm was founded by Charlie Rushing, an eco-educator with on-the-ground experience in storm and intruder mitigation, and building projects that can stand up to a Category 5 storm and 200-mph-plus winds. Using his experience and encyclopedic knowledge of security and safety from such incursions as flying debris, intruders and destructive termites, Rushing has created a firm that goes beyond the basic green objectives of sustainability and ecologically friendly products and construction techniques. EcoSmart Worldwide also educates builders and architects about green rebates, tax credits and similar financial benefits, as well as storm protection and security.

One example of the many potential benefits of green construction is that of a Georgia school system. EcoSmart advised using LEDs, which although more expensive initially, saved enough to pay for the new bulbs and retrofitting in less than two years, with a life expectancy 25 times that of the former equipment. Consequently, not only was there a 70 percent reduction in the lighting portion of their energy cost, but also a significant reduction in maintenance costs such as bulb replacement. LEDs give off much less heat, so air conditioning costs fell dramatically, as well.  On the human side of the equation, the school system had a large autistic population, and the steady, more natural lighting of the LEDs was seen to have a positive effect on the children.

According to Rushing “Another human side of green building is the use of products and materials that reduce or eliminate the sources of formaldehyde, mercury and other indoor pollutants that cause watery eyes, headaches, fatigue and nausea, and are known human carcinogens. Available safe products include paint with low levels of volatile organic compounds, solvent-free adhesives and water-based wood finishes that eliminate suspected and known carcinogens.” There is a financial benefit here as well, he points out, because many of the safe products perform better than their toxic counterparts.

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. Building projects must satisfy prerequisites to earn points and achieve levels of certification. In line with their mission of eco-education, EcoSmart recently built a 100 percent Extreme Green demonstration model home that is on track to be LEED Platinum certified. The demonstration home, in Shalimar, Florida, is designed as an educational learning center and full-time Extreme Green model home for the benefit of anyone seeking to go green economically and efficiently.

“It’s one of the greenest homes in America,” says Rushing. “With three unique models to tour, waterfront access and a complete line of sustainable products, touring our model home and consulting with our team will ensure that someone gets the right product for their job The consulting and expert advice is free, and participants experience the feel and look of 100 percent green. They can ask questions, inquire about which products are most efficient and economical, and learn from my years of experience.”

EcoSmart also teaches a number of other green protocols, including lifetime roofs, breathable plaster finishes on interior walls, solar panels and airtight monolithic and structural building systems with impact-rated windows and doors. Participants also learn the benefits of protecting precious water resources by collecting and reusing water; how to make and use energy; how to protect a home or business from storms; how to protect from intruders; and how to improve ventilation and indoor air quality.

Impacting more than the home itself, green building promotes the use of local products and materials that help stimulate local businesses and a diverse economy. This keeps the dollars working in a neighborhood and reduces energy consumption, because there are fewer transportation costs. Materials like engineered wood products are encouraged because they efficiently make use of waste wood pieces, reducing the environmental impact of the wood industry. Recycled-content products productively use materials that would otherwise need to be hauled to landfills, and also reduce costs and impacts of producing products from virgin materials.

“Green building is not a passing trend,” notes Rushing. “Informing and educating the homeowner about the value of green building standards is EcoSmart Worldwide’s principal goal. We believe that through education we can all make a difference that will improve the way we live; today and tomorrow.”

For more information, visit EcoSmartWorldwide.com. Contact Charlie Rushing at [email protected] or 850-685-5535.

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