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Florida College Town Embraces Green Building


By Gotham Chandna

Rising energy costs are causing homeowners and business managers across the nation to focus on energy-efficient, eco-friendly real estate design. According to the National Association of Home Builders, average home and office sizes have decreased in the last 18 months, most likely due to the soaring costs of heating and cooling mammoth buildings. Recent trends also show that home buyers are asking about eco-friendly features such as sustainable materials and LEED-certified appliances. Green housing features are now in high demand.

A similar movement is shaping up in commercial real estate development and building design in Gainesville, Florida. Trimark Properties, a commercial real estate development company based in Gainesville, has taken the lead in green and sustainable office space design in the small University of Florida town. Gainesville, home of the Gators, Grooveshark, Gatorade (do you see a pattern?) and now green commercial real estate.

In recent years, Gainesville has witnessed a paradigm shift in the number of incubators, accelerators and venture capital firms showing interest in the startup eco-system this city has to offer. It is becoming well known for its burgeoning high-tech workforce graduating from UF every year. It has one of the leading hospitals in the nation, a location in the Florida high-tech corridor with easy accessibility to cities like Orlando and Miami -- plus state and local tax programs like the HUBZone that make it easier for companies in Gainesville to succeed. The “Go Gators” sports vibe adds to the favorable climate Gainesville has to offer. Once they move to Gainesville, people do not want to relocate, and that helps companies keep their employees long-term.

John Fleming, managing partner of Trimark Properties, said: “Gainesville is a city of the future. It’s resilient, sustainable, eco-friendly, and it sincerely caters to the startup culture.”

Trimark Properties is now building Nimbus, the biggest green commercial real estate development project that the city has ever seen. Let’s take a deeper dive into this magnificent, state-of-the-art building and the features that make it truly unique and eco-friendly:

Upcycled materials

Southern red cedar and long-leaf heart pine wood were sourced from a 100-year-old building that was previously located on the property where Nimbus is now being built. This beautiful wood will be used to build an accent wall in Nimbus’s main lobby and in an open work area along the south side of the building.

The salvaged wood was milled at the Goodwin Co., industry leaders in reclaimed heart pine and well known for its high-quality woodworking and craftsmanship. Not only will this create a breathtaking centerpiece in the building, but it’s also a memorable green feature since it doesn’t require the harvesting of additional trees.

Historic doors, beams, joists and other hardware were also salvaged from the demolished building and a family medical center located nearby; all of the salvaged pieces will be used in future developments by Trimark Properties.

Dynamic glass windows

If your windows don’t tint on command, then your office building will soon be considered old fashioned. Fast forward to 2016, when dynamic glass is becoming one of the hottest building trends because it significantly reduces cooling costs for the building.

The tint on the building’s storefront glazing will change based on cloud cover and solar intensity. The system will be programmed with the building’s longitude and latitude (29°39’02.9”N, 82°19’50.0”W) and will be linked to the National Renewable Energy Lab’s database which identifies and forecasts the sun’s angle throughout the year. Multiple photo sensors will be strategically placed on the building’s exterior, further allowing perfect customization of the tint to the sunlight levels on any given day in Gainesville. By varying the voltage passed through a layer of nanoscale particles embedded in the glazing unit, the glass’s tint can be adjusted, thereby controlling glare and solar light transmittance.

This smart glass improves energy efficiency and eliminates the need for blinds or other shade control devices. Smart glass also minimizes glare and helps maximize daylighting. Thanks to a sophisticated controls system, all of this happens without any required input from the building’s occupants, allowing them to focus on their daily tasks from the comfort of their perfectly-lit workspace.

Cool roof

The building’s roof is a single-ply, membrane roof with a very high solar reflectivity index (SRI). Roofs with a high SRI rating reflect solar heat more than roofs with lower SRI. The reduced roof temperature brings down the load on air conditioning, which keeps utility costs low.

Sun shades

To beat the Florida heat, sun shades will be installed on the west side of the building, to prevent it from heating up under the blazing western sun. This will reduce the solar heat gain on the building thus keeping the cooling costs down.

Water infiltration

The storm-water collected from the roof and the parking lot will be routed through an underground storm water detention system. This infiltration system allows water to filter out oils, sediments, and nutrients before it discharges the wastewater into the municipal storm water system.

Other green features

The building’s lighting-control system features occupancy sensors in the bathrooms, which will shut the lights off when the facilities are not in use, which conserves energy. All paint used in the project will be low-VOC (volatile organic compounds), which helps with indoor environmental air quality. All adhesives used in the millwork will be urea-formaldehyde free. Again, this helps with indoor environmental quality.

These modern eco-friendly amenities will be first enjoyed by Sharpspring, the building’s first tenant. Sharpspring is slated to move into Nimbus later this year after Trimark finishes customizing the building for their specific needs. Sharpspring is a leading provider of marketing automation software, with offices across the globe. Nimbus will be Sharpspring’s national headquarters and will provide ample growing room for the company which is currently in a high-growth period. They expect the building’s attractive design and eco-friendly features to help them recruit top-class talent to work at their company.

Image courtesy of Trimark Properties 

Gotham Chandna is a marketing professional, ranked in top 100 users in PR and a panelist in Cannes and Sundance film festivals.I'm mentioned in Inc., Huffington Post and Examiner. Follow me on @gothamc for great information on marketing and my travel adventures.

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