Lake County, Florida is located in central Florida and is named after the numerous lakes in the area. There are approximately 1,400 named and identified lakes in the County. Lake County has a population of 307,243 people and has a total area of 1,156 square miles. A total of 203 square miles (17%) of the County’s area is water. The County has experienced several devastating storms, tornados and hurricanes in the past four years.
The County has an innovative green building incentive created to establish major environmental goals. The State of Florida has several green building standards, in which the County has successfully and rather seamlessly integrated those standards into the County’s code. The County’s green building program is placed into the County’s code. The County sees green building codes as an interactive tool that will allow monitoring of environmental performance and progress. Lake County also sees its green building code as a way to booster the County’s economy and to become a leader in sustainable design and improvements. For Lake County, there is no shying away from these goals as the County has managed to take the initiative in green building by leading by example.
The County mandates that all government buildings, including Lake County Board of County Commissioners (BCC), meet Florida Green Building Coalition standards for sustainable development; in addition the government is expected to carefully monitor and produce data of the sustainable improvements every year. Government buildings are also expected to report monthly water and energy use and produce an annual report that outlines Lake County's energy and water use, and greenhouse gas emission performance for all government buildings. Government building alterations undergoing a level III (per Florida building code) or greater alteration, are required to comply with Lake County’s green building requirements, providing a positive cost analysis can demonstrate 100 percent pay back within ten years.
One of several unique and important characteristics of the County’s code is that the County itself is required to market green buildings and encourage green development because private sustainable projects are voluntarily. Alongside marketing sustainability, the County will offer important incentives to encourage private developers with complying which are of little cost to the County, including a County-run educational program, and two awards for the greenest structures in the County.
As for private projects, the code heavily encourages participation through several sub-project categories: new residential, remodeling of existing homes, new commercial or institutional buildings, existing commercial and institutional buildings, existing commercial and institutional buildings. Under these programs, projects need only meet one of several green building ratings including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) standards. For example a project that falls under “New Residential Permitted Projects” need only meet one of the following requirements to receive incentives: the current Green Home Designation Standard of the FGBC; the current USGBC LEED for Homes program; the current National Association of Home Builders National Green Home program; or the GBI new home designation. Such attractive incentives offered to private projects, such as a new residential project seeking one of Lake County’s acceptable green designations is that green projects are fast tracked; permits for certain green projects can be issued as soon as three business days.
The most important and impressive aspect of the County’s green building code is that constant assessments and data monitoring is required. Each year the index report and goals will be evaluated to see if any additional changes or improvements can be made to the code and green building requirements.