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News & Press
Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome™

February 9, 2014 - Florida Today -- FPL's Smart Meters a Dumb Idea -- Video

June 24, 2011 - The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company -- All Energy Angles Covered

October 16, 2010 Florida Today INSET -- GREEN DRIVEWAYS


August 2010 Florida HVAC Insider August Newsletter -- A/C Installation

August 2010 Florida HVAC Insider Newsletter FRONT PAGE -- Renewable Energy for A/C?

June 26, 2010 (video) Channel 9 News Installation of DC Air Conditioner and Energy Ball V200

June 26, 2010 Florida Today FRONT PAGE HEADLINE -- State's Lowest Energy-Use Home?

June 25, 2010 CF News 13 First Solar Powered A/C "DC Chill" Installation -- Renewable A/C Power

June 25, 2010 FSGE Press Release -- Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome (FSGE) - World's 1st All-DC, Solar-Wind-Renewable Powered Air Conditioners From Green Power Resource Management

July 15, 2009 FSGE Press Release -- Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome (FSGE) - 1st Permitted Passive Nitrogen & Phosphorus Removal Septic Tank & Drainfield System In All Of Florida

FSGE is also supported by our State and Federal Legislators:

January 13, 2009 FSGE Press Release -- Brevard County Resolution and Award to Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome

January 11, 2009 Florida Today -- New Green Home Grabbing Attention

December 2008 HVAC Insider -- MTI and GTI Meet the Needs of Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome

July 7, 2008 The Columbus Dispatch -- Colorful Wood Offers New Solution to Homes' Old Problems

April 15, 2008 FPL Quarterly News Letter -- FSGE headlined in the article,   "Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome and Solar Water Heating"

April, 2008 FSGE makes YouTube Debut (YouTube is the 3rd most visited site globally & has 7 video clips describing FSGE's Building Envelope) -- YouTube Video Clips

March 11, 2008 FSGE Press Release -- Florida DEP, UCF & Students Complete Green Roof at Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome

February 29, 2008 FSGE Press Release -- Mark Baker, LLC, Builder of Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome, & Global Green Alliance, Producer of Green Earth Expo, Announce Strategic Alliance

February, 2008 GreenSage News & E-zine -- UCF & Students Oversee Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome's (FSGE's) Green Roof Design & Installation

February 8, 2008 Hometown News -- "Hurricane Destruction Spurs Nature-Proof Nature-Friendly Home"

December 20, 2007 FSGE Press Release -- "UCF & Students Oversee FSGE's Green Roof Design & Installation"

November, 2007 Contractor Magazine -- Featured Cover Story -- "Turning Disaster into a Green Building Showcase"

October 30, 2007 Kitchen & Bath Business -- Series of Coverage on FSGE

September 26, 2007 Fox News -- " 'Eco Friendly' House in Brevard" touted as "The Greenest House In The World"

August 29, 2007 USA TODAY Newspaper (Printed) on the 2-Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina -- "Home Of The Future Is Green From Top To Bottom"

August 29, 2007 USA TODAY Newspaper (Online) -- " 'Green' House To Open Doors To Show Its Attributes"

August 2, 2007 American Standard Press Release -- "American Standard Bath & Kitchen Partners with Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome™"

August, 2007 Space Coast Business Magazine -- "Is Your Company Protecting the Environment?"

July 29, 2007 Channel 13 Central Florida News Story and Video -- "Protecting Treasures From Fire" -- or view the Windows Video or the QuickTime Video.

July 29, 2007 Florida Today -- Front Page Sunday Newspaper -- "Couple Find It's Easy Building 'Green' "

July 11, 2007 The Beachside Resident Newspaper -- "Twenty Questions with Mark Baker "

June 5-6, 2007 Channel 13 Central Florida News Story and Video -- "Indialantic Home Is Green And Saves Energy" -- or view the Windows Video or the QuickTime Video.

May 28, 2007 FSGE Press Release -- "Mark Baker, LLC Announces Its Global Project"

January, 2007 Affluent Magazine -- "Being Smart About Water Conservation"

October 6, 2006 Florida Today -- "Indialantic Couple Seeing Green"

August 2007

Is Your Company Protecting The Environment?
Green Practices for the Workplace
- By Mark Baker

Integrating environmental stewardship principles, or "green practices," into everyday activities at the workplace is easy. The key is to understand what green means, and the myriad of green solutions readily available and simple to implement.

What is green? Any building or setting that is ecologically friendly in the following areas:

  • Lot Design, Preparation and Development
  • Natural Resource Efficiency
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Water Efficiency
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Durability
  • Sustainability Ability to Withstand Natural Disasters
  • Ease of Maintenance and Operation
  • Minimum Global Impact
When coal and other fossil fuels are burned to generate electricity, the resultant waste is greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide), acid rain, and air pollution, which can negatively affect the atmospheric blanket necessary for humankind's ability to live on earth. Becoming responsible for one's own "carbon footprint" relates to the amount of emissions a given person or business is responsible for. According to the EPA, industrial and commercial energy use actually accounts for nearly 30% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

To become "more green," a business can start with a desire to create an organization of environmentally responsible employees and citizens that share a common goal of ensuring that green practices become a part of the organization's culture, thinking and decision-making. This would include all departmental operations and activities helping to:

  • Save money via energy efficiency, water efficiency, lowering insurance premiums and taking advantage of government tax breaks as well as government/utility company "green programs"
  • Prevent pollution
  • Conserve precious natural resources
  • Reduce waste via recycling and myriad technologies
  • Improve health (approximately 65% of our time is spent indoors)
  • Mitigate catastrophe from natural disaster

Although a business can certainly set up their own green practices, foster a cultural change in the workplace, regularly gather and share ideas and best practices internally and externally, and even establish measurable performance indicators for their own green practices, there are a few simple steps any business can follow:

1. Walk, bike, carpool in a fuel-efficient vehicle or use public transportation to and from work
2. In company relocation packages, encourage new employees to choose a home within a 30-minute walk, bike or transit ride from work
3. Turn off lights/electronics/appliances, as it applies, when you leave the room
4. Print materials double-sided with vegetable based inks
5. Save ink or toner by using the "fast draft" option found in most word processing programs
6. Recycle/refill used toner cartridges
7. Reduce the amount of paper you use
8. Choose reusable messenger envelopes and re-label file folders or fold them in the reverse direction
9. Choose office supplies utilizing recycled content and buy them in bulk to minimize packaging waste
10. Buy refillable mechanical pencils and ballpoint pens and choose non-toxic pens and markers
11. Choose less toxic or rechargeable batteries and dispose of spent batteries properly
12. Use reusable mugs for water and beverages
13. Use reusable plates for lunch
14. Throw your discarded food items in a composting bin that can produce fertile soil in two weeks
15. Don't use the toilet as a trash receptacle
16. Install restrictive aerators on bathroom and kitchen sinks
17. Turn off hot water access in bathrooms, and possibly kitchens
18. Choose appliances that are designed to use less energy, less water and that can significantly avoid carbon dioxide emissions
19. Consider buying an all-in-one fax/copier/printer/scanner instead of four separate machines
20. Choose toilets and faucets that are designed to use less water and install inexpensive leak detection devices. A leaking toilet can use an average of 200 gallons of water per day
21. Consider installing a greywater reuse system to save 1/3 water consumption
22. Replace chemical pesticides on the lawn with non-toxic alternatives and "go native" with all plants to reduce fertilizer, pesticides and extra water
23. Production and processing of meat is disproportionately taxing to earth's water and land resources so try to choose one day a week to eat meat-free meals at the office
24. Try to eat food from local farmers to minimize the distance between field-to-table
25. Eating organic and saying no to genetically modified food is safer for people and the environment
26. Donate old furniture and buy recycled furniture or refurbish old furniture
27. Learn about green practices and share the knowledge with family and friends
28. And last but not least, if building a new office building or renovating, follow one or more of the mainstream green building guidelines that can be found at

Mark Baker, having 35 years of construction experience, is the President of Mark Baker, LLC, the builder of Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome (FSGE), a Near Zero Energy Home that will be a "live" residential touring facility with "proof of performance" monitoring data showcasing many innovative technologies applicable to both residential as well as commercial needs. FSGE via one year of scheduled walkthroughs will demonstrate the state-of-the-art building choices and practices available. For more information you can contact Mark Baker at

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Protecting Treasures From Fire
Tough Loss To Take
- By Ben Baird, Channel 13 News

A fire destroys an Indian Harbor Beach storage facility and takes countless heirlooms and treasures with it.

However, one family devastated by the fire said their new home might've protected their stuff better than the storage site.

The Indialantic family is building a nearly fire-proof house. Its walls are so resistant that a 2,500 degree blowtorch would take nearly a half hour to burn a one inch hole. There are also special coatings on insulation and wood framing that help reduce the fire risk.

The family building the house says they believe the new construction techniques could have stopped a similar fire from spreading.

"The firemen couldn't go in there because it was an all-metal building," said builder Mark Baker. "All they could do was sit there and wait. With a panel building like this, they could've gone in there and saved a lot of people's stuff."

The house in Indialantic is being built as a showcase of new building techniques. In addition to being fire resistant, it's also hurricane proof and environmentally friendly.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Couple Find It's Easy Building 'Green'
Envirohome Energy Efficient
- By Jim Waymer, Florida Today

Black mold inspired a green passion in Mark Baker and his wife, Nonnie Chrystal.

Their vision began with a microburst from Hurricane Frances that tore off the roof from Baker's mother's Indialantic home.

The storm provided fertile ground for mold -- and an opportunity for Baker and Chrystal.

Baker had the know-how. Chrystal, the idea.

They're building Florida's Showcase Envirohome on the footprint of the original 1967 house Baker's mother bought in 1970 for about $27,750.

By January, the couple -- and Baker's mother, Betty Baker Farley, 74 -- plan to move into what they hope will be among the most energy efficient homes in Florida, America, maybe even the world.

They plan to spare the power grid by using next-to-no energy and preserve the Indian River Lagoon by allowing close to zero rainwater to run off their lot.

They'll be raising the "green bar" by drawing about 70 percent of their energy from the sun, using paints that emit fewer toxic fumes and largely relying on recycled materials.

"It was never ever about the money: nickel-and-diming every doorjamb," Chrystal said.

The Indialantic couple drummed up 40 sponsors and are using his mother's insurance claim to pay for the project, which so far has cost about $200,000.

They envision many firsts: an all DC solar air conditioner, a vertical wind generator that promises a tenth the cost of solar and five times the output.

And they hope to be water- neutral as well as carbon-neutral, using a soil-covered cement board section of roof planted with daisies, honeysuckle and mustard plants. The "green, living" roof will drain into a whole-house graywater system that reuses shower and clothes washer water to sprinkle the lawn and flush toilets.

The stormwater system, designed by University of Central Florida's Stormwater Management Academy, will capture close to 90 percent of the rainfall. It's a concept the couple and their UCF helpers hope catches on in drought-prone Florida.

"You keep more water in the ground. The droughts would be less severe," said Marty Wanielista, professor of engineering and director of the stormwater academy at UCF.

The family will roll their two cars up a driveway of recycled rubber product called Flexi-Pave, which allows water to trickle into the ground.

After construction is complete, UCF expects to offer a year of tours to school groups. Baker and Chrystal want to prove green building concepts work. They'll install monitoring systems to track energy efficiency in the 3,500-square-foot home.

"We're going to be a science experiment for a year," Baker said. "We didn't want to build it and have everyone forget about it.

"Everybody can retrofit in some way, shape or form. Green building is just smarter."

It's stronger, too, Baker insists.

He's using structural insulated panels that keep the house cooler and interlock to withstand 175 mph winds.

"It makes it monolithic. It's all one piece," Baker said.

The frame is a blue-tinged, termite-proof wood that's free of volatile carbon-based compounds. The decking will be recycled plastic. All the steel is recycled, too, including 90 percent of the aluminum roof.

Their home adds to a recent wave of green building.

"I think there's been a lot of incentive toward green building programs," said Rob Vieira, director of buildings research at Florida Solar Energy Center, a sponsor of the project.

The new $27 million Parrish Healthcare Center, a 72,500-square-foot diagnostic treatment center at Port St. John and Grissom parkways, used green building concepts. The newly renovated Library West at UCF features waterless urinals and other low-flow plumbing fixtures.

Studies show green buildings increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and improve performance, according to Bahar Armaghani, assistant director of an energy-savings program at University of Florida.

But Baker and Chrystal just want to show that savings are possible, particularly in insurance premiums.

"If we don't get 50 percent off, we'll be really surprised," Chrystal said.

Contact Waymer at 242-3663 or

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Tuesday, July 11, 2007

Twenty Questions with Mark Baker
- By Tobin Bennison, The Beachside Resident

In addition to being a formidable waterman, a talented musician, and a loving husband and father, beachside resident Mark Baker is the President of Mark Baker, LLC, the builder off Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome (FSGE), a near-zero energy home in Indialantic. It's being created out of the consumer-driven necessity to build a 'green' or 'ecologically friendly' home to be resistant to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fire, mold, and termites. Which is great news, considering the 500% increase in insurance premiums in natural disaster zones, the dwindling flexibility and coverage of insurance policies, and rising oil prices.Recently, several major U.S. utility companies stated they anticipate energy costs to rise 30-35% by 2012, creating urgency to embrace green building. Mayors from around the world formed a new ecology organization to focus on green practices because their respective governments are moving too slowly. And synchronistically, FSGE is perfectly timed for the United Nations' proclaimed 2008 "International Year of Planet Earth." We spoke to Mark to find out more about this compelling building project.

What do you love most about living beachside?
Surfing and playing live music outdoors at beachside restaurants. But I also enjoy the generally relaxed atmosphere, friendly people, and the salt air.

How did the idea of building a "green home" come about?
The idea came about mostly because of my wife, Nonnie. She inspired me to go to a green building seminar after my mother's home had been completely devastated by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004. Having 35 years of construction experience, I was amazed with the common sense behind green building concepts. So I decided to rebuild my mother's house "green," which meant it would be the strongest, safest and most efficient it could possibly be within an affordable framework. Not long after that seminar, Nonnie's parents lost everything after Hurricane Katrina. Both our parents' devastation only served to further catalyze us to help our loved ones and teach others about building green. So FSGE was born as a consumer-driven project -- for the consumer, by the consumer -- to showcase extremely durable, high-efficiency, health-promoting and affordable green technologies while simultaneously giving "proof of performance" data to the public to let them decide the merits of building green. At FSGE, we plan to show consumers -- kindergarteners through college students, developers, investors, builders, media, businesses, organizations and government -- how "affordable and rewardable" building green can be via one year of scheduled walkthroughs at FSGE. And FSGE is also the perfect venue for educating the public as a "live residential touring facility" or "living laboratory" with five adult occupants to provide test data.

What are the benefits of living in a green home?
"What's in it for me?" or "I don't like change" seems to be the general consensus of most builders as to why they haven't embraced green building. However, education is key because when people understand how they can save money and help the planet at the same time, then building green becomes a no-brainer and win-win situation for everyone. The benefits of living in a green home include the ability to withstand natural disasters, sustainability, and improved health via improved indoor air quality, mold mitigation strategies, the use of non-chlorinated swimming pools, replacing chemical pesticides and fertilizers with non-toxic alternatives, and "going native" with all plants to reduce fertilizer, pesticides and extra water. Savings on insurance premiums (and lowered monthly mortgages), energy bills, water and sewerage bills, and the use of utility/university/government programs, tax incentives, grants, and RFP monies are also big benefits. Others advantages include the conservation of precious natural resources, overall water and energy efficiency, and ease of maintenance and operations help minimize global impact.

Are there any firsts with this project?
There are many. FSGE plans to implement the world's first all-DC solar air conditioner. We're working with American Standard to test its new line of furniture touting zero- or low-VOC water-based paints, and engineers are working to certify FSGE at very high wind ratings with the nation's first energy efficient, residential metal roof from Englert, Inc. to be engineered at a 175 mph rating. FSGE will have BluWood trusses, which have already been successfully engineered at 186 mph by Vero Beach's Florida Truss. BluWood offers zero-VOC protection against mold fungus growth, wood rot, moisture and termite infestation with a lifetime limited warranty. The home is being considered by EPA WaterSense (the sister program to EPA Energy Star) as a national test site for water conservation. FSGE is the first in Florida to install a county-approved, whole-home greywater reuse system that uses the water from showers and clothes washers to flush the toilets, reducing in-home water consumption by about one third, greatly minimizing septic system requirements. It's the first residential project in Brevard County to use ICS of Florida's SIP Panel hurricane technology for its exterior walls, in which the third party test data for this new construction technology shows superiority over both stick and frame and concrete block. Not everything is a first, but many of the technologies we are combining make us a local, regional, national and global first. More importantly, the spirit behind what we are doing will increase consumer awareness in a favorable direction towards building green for themselves.

What were some of the most difficult obstacles in construction?
Construction is still underway, but since FSGE is a hurricane rebuild with more than 50% reconstruction from the original structure, we had to abide by the latest Florida Building Code with a lot more quality time spent with plans examiners and inspectors. Although one of the benefits of green building is quicker construction time, when you're dealing with so many new technologies at one time, you can expect the unexpected. We've definitely had some interesting logistical as well as engineering challenges arise due to the newness of these technologies, but nothing that can't be overcome.

How else does FSGE contribute to the overall "health" of the environment?
A green home burns less coal and other fossil fuels than the average household. Therefore, it produces less greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide), reducing acid rain and air pollution. Also, improved health is emphasized in many ways through better indoor air quality, mold mitigation strategies, non-chlorinated swimming pools, replacement of chemical pesticides and fertilizers with non-toxic alternatives, "going native" with all plants to reduce fertilizer, pesticides and extra water, and minimizing waste into the septic system via greywater reuse systems. These measures positively affect not only the residents of the green home, but also the quality of runoff into our lakes, rivers and oceans. Given that the American Lung Association has determined that around 65% of people's time is spent indoors, the healthcare profession would serve their patients well by understanding the impact green building has on one's personal health.

How difficult is it to maintain a dwelling of this kind?
The premise of any green home is ease of maintenance and operation. This means that durable, "user friendly" products are preferred in all of the green building guidelines where possible. An example is the Trex decking we're using, which is far easier to maintain than wood decking. On a side note, we also get points for Trex because it contains almost 100% recycled content, which minimizes global impact by reducing landfill waste. Every green home comes with a "user's manual" to help tenants understand the newer technologies being implemented.

What recommendations do you have for other people who'd like to construct a green home?
Check out for proof of performance data first. When you're ready to construct, you should have someone hold your hand the first time around. As green building consultants, Nonnie and I are presently aligning the right players -- such as available architects and engineers -- who can quickly respond to the interest FSGE is generating.

What have your neighbors' responses been?
Mostly, "When are you gonna be done?" Seriously, our neighbors have been great. They're excited and intrigued as the new technologies go up.

Do you foresee this becoming a popular trend?
Given that insurance premiums have escalated to 500% since Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004, and that some people are having to move because they can no longer afford their monthly mortgage, FSGE will drive interest in how to lower insurance premiums by up to 50%, and will show others how to drastically reduce energy and water bills. So yes, I foresee this becoming a popular trend.

If you were President for a year, what would you hope to accomplish?
Obtaining a ridiculous salary and pension package.

What kind of music do you enjoy?
I love most anything live and played by people who really enjoy what they do.

What is your favorite book?
"The Illustrated Man" by Ray Bradbury.

What is your favorite film?
Any and all Surf NRG videos by Kevin Welsh.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with the winnings?
Put them toward college funds for my three children.

What is your ideal travel destination?
Indonesia -- one of the best surfing spots in the world.

What would you order for your last meal?
Papaya with lemon juice or anything else Nonnie would fix me.

What would you like to come back as in your next life?
The President of Disney.

Any words of wisdom?
Everyone can benefit from building green, whether through an improvement to an existing structure or a new construction project. There are many steps that can be taken to save money, generate your own energy, recycle water, improve health, and help the environment.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007 2:36:19 PM

Indialantic Home Is Green And Saves Energy
- By Ben Baird, Channel 13 News

Windows Video, June 6, 2007

QuickTime Video, June 6, 2007

The cost to own a home seems to go up every time you pay your bills, but one group in Brevard County said that it is building a house that will see its bills going down.

News 13's Ben Baird has that story.

It looks like any construction site in any subdivision. But builders say the house they are building in Indialantic will be among the most energy-efficient in Florida, and even the world.

That means not just better for the environment, but better for the wallet. The "near-zero" energy home will get about 70-percent of its power from the sun and the wind. That includes the world's first-ever solar-powered air conditioner.

Another first for Florida will be a gray-water recycling system.

"We're actually tying the showers and the washer to the toilets. A lot of people can save about a third of the water usage by doing this," said Nonnie Chrystal.

Also, it won't just be a "green" house; it will also be a strong house. Builders say the walls could withstand up to a 186-mph hurricane.

"Being three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean here we're in hurricane zone central," Chrystal said.

In fact, the house is replacing one destroyed by the 2004 storms.

So, in addition to the new wall-building technology, the house will have a new roof system, and a new barrier to prevent water damage.

That means more possible savings in insurance costs. But a lot of these systems are so new they're not really tested, so in addition to being a home, the dwelling will also be a science experiment.

"While we're living here, we're going to be monitoring energy and water usage. So when somebody from Missouri says 'show me,' we can. So, some of the things that work we'll find out and some of the things that don't work we'll find out as well," Chrystal said.

The home will take several weeks to build. However, because of the advanced materials involved, it will take less time than traditional construction. In just one day, builders got up most of the walls on the first floor.

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May 28, 2007

FSGE Press Release
Mark Baker, LLC Announces its Global Project, Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome (FSGE), with a Construction Start Date of June 2, 2007

Hurricane Frances and Jeanne destroyed FSGE’s original structure in 2004, displacing a single family. FSGE is being rebuilt with leading edge solar, wind, and other materials technologies as a 3500 s.f. “Near Zero-Energy Home”. The first-of-its-kind, Affordable & Rewardable™ “green” home and “live” residential touring facility, FSGE via one year of scheduled walkthroughs will demonstrate the best building choices and practices available today in order to help consumers, kindergarten through college students, developers, investors, builders, environmentalists, media, banks, insurers, healthcare professionals, businesses, organizations, government, etc. to:

  • See monitored “proof of performance” data from a live test site with 5 adult occupants
  • Save money by:
    • Drastically reducing insurance premiums (Florida has increased by up to 500% in the last 2 years!)
    • Lowering monthly mortgages via less escrowed insurance
    • Significantly lowering electrical, water and sewerage costs
    • Obtaining “green” tax incentives and monies through existing government/utility company programs
    • Requiring less maintenance and minimizing construction time
  • Improve health (~65% of our time is spent indoors!)
  • Conserve precious natural resources
  • Mitigate, if not eliminate, potential catastrophe from natural disasters

FSGE has partnered with more than 3 dozen public, quasi-public and private sector entities including the U.S. DOE Building America Project, EPA Energy Star, Florida Solar Energy Center, Florida Water Star, Florida Power & Light, Institute For Business & Home Safety, American Standard, BASF, and more listed on The “grandfather of green building” and several inventors are involved, also helping FSGE in its goal to meet or exceed 12 sets of green building guidelines. According to the Director of Florida’s Hurricane Mitigation Program, which rewards homeowner-insured Floridians $5000 for strengthening their roofs, the Governor of Florida may be very interested in FSGE’s high-efficiency residential prototype and live residential touring facility given his upcoming global warming campaigns involving green building solutions. Also, EPA WaterSense, the new, sister program to EPA Energy Star, as well as the DOE are both considering FSGE as national test sites for water conservation and a new vertical wind technology, respectively.

FSGE will showcase such innovations as patented SIP steel-reinforced exterior walls, a hurricane technology stronger and cheaper than concrete block—and stick and frame too when considering energy efficiency; water and energy usage monitoring systems; a global-first "off grid" all-DC Solar Air Conditioner; a state-of-the-art vertical wind generator apparently 1/10 the cost of solar and 5 times the output; and a solar water heater that can produce hot water year-round, even on a cloudy day.

Engineers are working to certify FSGE at 186mph, more stringent than any county in Florida, the highest being Key West—not Dade—mandated at 155mph. FSGE will erect its first and second floor SIP walls June 2, June 4, June 13 with completion by June 14, a less-than-five day timeframe decidedly shorter than stick and frame or concrete block.

On April 8, 2007 ABC News discussed the necessity of “greening cities” and the reality of the “Carbon Tax” after the 2008 Presidential Election to make Americans responsible for their own “carbon footprint” yet reward them for building green. Recently several major U.S. utility companies stated they anticipate energy costs to rise 30-35% by 2012 creating urgency to embrace green building. Mayors from around the world formed a brand new ecology organization to focus on green practices because their respective governments are moving too slowly. And synchronistically, FSGE is perfectly timed for the United Nations’ proclaimed 2008 “International Year of Planet Earth”.

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January, 2007

Being Smart about Water Conservation
How Small Changes at Home Can Create a Big Impact
-- By Charles Monteverdi in Affluent Magazine: (Affluent is the premier lifestyle publication for South Florida & beyond, where it is read by more than 236,000 high net worth individuals and company owners each month – men and women who drive the nation's most dynamic communities – who have hundreds of millions of dollars in personal purchasing power while their companies have billions to spend.)

Undeniably the concern for conservation and the environment should be on everyone’s mind today. A glance at the evening news or latest headline will tell you that the “green movement”—the shift towards environmental awareness—is a hot topic. The increasing popularity of energy efficient appliances, recycling, and low-emissions vehicles are a sign of greener times. Water and energy conservation are attainable and could be the easiest and most cost-effective steps towards being earth friendly. And as far as being good to Mother Nature, charity begins in the home.

Since most people spend more than 65% of their time indoors, the average home is a hotbed for energy and water overuse. A perfect model of water and energy conservation is Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome (FSGE™). This home, located in Indialantic, FL, is being built with leading-edge solar, wind, and other materials technologies as a “Near Zero-Energy Home”.

“This home will have both water and energy consumption monitoring systems installed for proof of performance,” said Nonnie Chrystal, vice president of Mark Baker, LLC and project manager for FSGE. “Our goal is to formulate our own stringent guidelines in order to reset the “green bar”, especially as it pertains to improved health, while meeting or exceeding green building practices standards.”

The house was built after the original home was destroyed by two hurricanes. The resulting black mold from moisture intrusion made the 2,024-square-foot home uninhabitable. Chrystal with her husband Mark Baker, a licensed home reconstruction expert, researched ways to rebuild the home using Earth-friendly materials that resist mold and could withstand harsh beachside conditions and hurricane-force winds.

FSGE will employ strict indoor and outdoor water conservation measures and more than two-dozen green products. All the toilets are “high-efficiency” (~1.2 gallons per flush), and the dishwashers and clothes washers in this two-family home consumes approximately 84% less water than comparable appliances. Including a steam bath generator as part of a steam/shower provides a spa-like amenity while reducing water consumption as compared to a tub. Most steam units use less than 2 gallons of water per 30-minute steam session, compared to a typical tub that uses approximately 36 gallons, yielding a substantial combined decrease in water usage.

Since 50 percent of water is used in outdoor plant irrigation, FSGE will utilize a landscaping method called xeriscaping that uses native plants and minimal grass, to dramatically decrease the need for watering.

Due to the home’s high standards for water and energy conservation and use of durable, sustainable products, the home is being considered by the EPA as the first national test site for its soon-to-be Water Sense Program. Even if you don’t take drastic measures to upgrade your home, there are simple ways to reduce your water consumption:

  • Avoiding use of the toilet as a trash receptacle will reduce unnecessary flusing. Replacing an old toilet (which can use up to 5 gallons per flush) to a dual flush toilet or low flow toilet that uses 0.5 to 1.6 gallons of water.

  • Take showers instead of baths. A full bathtub requires about 36 gallons of water compared to 15-25 gallons for a 5 minute shower. Even when combined with a steam unit, a steam-and-shower session consumes less water than a tub.

  • Repair and prevent leaks. A leaky toilet or faucet can waste 200 gallons and 100 gallons a day respectively. Leak detection devices are available at your local home improvement stores and can be installed on toilets, dishwashers, refrigerators and clothes washers.

  • Install aerators on faucets and replace showerheads with low-flow designs. Aerators mix air with water to cut water usage in half.

  • Use native plants adapted to the local climate and rainfall and use mulch around plants and tree to retain moisture.

Small changes in the home are a huge step towards water and energy conservation. Water conservation lowers water bills, energy costs and sewer charges, and most importantly, it ensures that water, our most valuable resource, will be available for future generations to come.

For more information on Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome, visit:

Charles Monteverdi is the President of Mr. Steam, a subsidiary of Sussman-Automatic Corporation. After joining the company as chief engineer in 1975, Monteverdi moved up the ranks to vice president in 1984 and was named president in 1997. A graduate of Hofstra University with a BSEE degree, Monteverdi is a Licensed Professional Engineer. He resides in New York. For more information on Mr. Steam, please visit, call (800)-76-STEAM or (718) 937-4500, or email:

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October 6, 2006

Indialantic Couple Seeing Green
New Home Will Feature Earth-Friendly Materials

-- By Shawna S. Kelsch, for Florida Today Newspaper

The color green is one that frequently comes to mind when describing one aspect of Florida: lush green palm trees; hues of blue-green ocean; green turtles.

If a West Melbourne couple has their way, the word will also find its way into construction and development vernaculars when describing earth-friendly (and hurricane-hardy) building practices.

The idea came about after Mark Baker, a licensed home reconstruction expert, and his wife, Nonnie Chrystal, began exploring ways to rebuild the Indialantic home of Mark's 74-year-old mother, Betty Baker-Farley.

After two hurricanes and black mold made her 2,024-square-foot home uninhabitable, the two began researching ways to rebuild the home using Earth-friendly materials that resist mold and could withstand harsh beachside conditions and hurricane-force winds.

"Our research enabled us to meet Mike Myers, considered by many in the building industry as the 'grandfather' of green building practices," said Chrystal, who attended a seminar on green building practices at which Myers was a keynote speaker.

Working with Myers, the two discovered a whole new universe of terms and ideas that could help turn a house from a concrete structure to a "True Green Building," which affords the homeowner a voice in the consumption of energy, efficient practices for heating, cooling and protecting a home against the elements as well as environmental output of materials.

So instead of building a solid block building, Baker and Chrystal began contacting product manufacturers of green building supplies to create a plan to rebuild the home into a "Near to Zero Energy Home."

The building's wood frame package, for example, will consist of Bluwood, a chemically treated hardwood that protects against mold fungus, rot fungi and wood-ingesting insects, including Formosan termites.

This tenacious termite causes more than $1 billion in damage annually in the 12 or so Southern states where it is found, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Charles Morando, president of Wood Smart Solutions in Boca Raton, parent company of Bluwood.

The home also will employ two dozen or more other green products, including solar and vertical wind technology components, Energy Star efficient appliances and special paints and roofing materials. Monitoring systems will be installed to track energy efficiency, Chrystal said.

The couple's goal is to meet or exceed building practice standards as outlined in the Building America Project guidelines, as well as the National Association of Homebuilders, the U.S. Green Building Coalition's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the Florida Green Building Commission and others, she said.

Morando, whose mold-resistant Bluwood was featured on ABC's "Extreme Home Makeover/Home Edition" on Oct. 2, is happy to be participating.

"We're excited to help educate the public about our product and about furthering the initiatives of the Green Building movement," he said.

Additionally, the Department of Energy is considering the home -- which has been dubbed Florida's Showcase Green Envirohome -- as a demonstration project for a new vertical wind technology unit that will generate power to the house at an estimated one-10th the cost of solar technology with five times the output.

"Once the home is completed, we'll open it to the public for tours so they can come see what this is all about and learn how to use these technologies to help protect the Earth and reduce energy costs," said Baker, who will handle all the construction himself.

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