The former home of the Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City seems to be the antithesis of an environmentally sound building.
For one, the 2-story brick structure at 1812 N. 15th St. is old -- 103 years old. Two, the high ceilings make heating and cooling the building a massive energy drain. The tar on the top of the building doesn't help; the black surface can reach well above 100 degrees in the summer, heat that inevitably makes its way inside. Even the asphalt parking lot, like every other impermeable flat surface in Ybor City, contributes to massive rain runoff that empties into area waterways, with its oily polluting sheen.
But in less than a year, three Tampa entrepreneurs will transform this building into a model for sustainable development in Tampa Bay. After a series of renovations over the next several months, they hope to turn the energy-sucking monster into a structure that uses no net energy (it will produce as much power as it consumes).
Dubbed "Project 3.0," this is the brainchild of Atlanta developer Rudy Arnauts, promoter/artist Steve Francois and Bryan Roberts, a local contractor for Eco-Tech Construction.
"People think of 'green building' as building something new," Roberts says. "The idea here is to have a building that was built before the advent of air-conditioning and turn it into a zero-energy [consuming] building."
But Roberts, Arnauts and Francois are not content to just offset their own carbon footprint. Through a website, documentaries and partnerships with for-profit and nonprofit companies, they want Project 3.0 to serve as an educational platform for sustainable construction in Tampa Bay. And upon completion, the facility would become an incubator for the arts and entrepreneurial projects.
"I call it a holistic approach to development," Arnauts says.
On a recent weekday, Arnauts, Roberts and Francois gather on the first floor of the building, waiting to meet with their architect. Roberts and Arnauts discuss the building's restoration while Francois holds a video camera, taping the conversation. Roberts gives a tour of the building, pointing out the proposed renovations:
• Bathrooms retrofitted with a series of water-saving features, including low-flow toilets and a greywater system that recycles waste water and rain water.
• Concrete floors covered with a nano-lithium silicate finish. The coating is far less hazardous than standard floor finishes and has the added bonus of being shinier the more it is stepped on.
• LED lighting throughout the entire building. "All of the lighting will take as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb," Roberts says. In addition, Roberts will harness natural light by installing "solatubes," devices that channel sunlight to provide consistent lighting throughout the day.
• A roof coated with a soy-based foam and reflective coating that should drop the surface temperature by 60 percent. Other additions to the roof: solar panels and a garden.
• A geothermal heating/cooling system that taps the steady flow of heat from the earth in the winter and displaces summer's heat back in the earth.
• Double-paned windows.
• A permeable asphalt parking lot that protects against runoff.
"You're not having to sacrifice with a sustainable building," says Roberts, who is also working on Florida's first Earthship (a fully-sustainable house) in Manatee County. "You're not living in a barn with candles and no air-conditioning. You have a building in an urban setting with lights and air conditioning."
The environmental face-lift seems complex and expensive, but the Project 3.0 team will rely on business sponsorships. They've already succeeded with the most important sponsorship: the building itself. The structure belongs to businessman/activist Joe Redner, who agreed to lease it to the group in exchange for the renovations.
"It just seemed to me a good idea," Redner says. "I hope it teaches some people to be more environmental friendly."
During construction, Francois will document the building's green conversion and post weekly videos to their website, thecampus.tv.
"The technology is real," Roberts says. "We want to show people there are alternatives when doing a remodeling project. There are little things you can do that have a big impact."
After the renovation is completed -- they're predicting spring 2009 -- the building will lease out space to various artists and entrepreneurs to create a collective space for creative types, a commercial incubator with an emphasis on the arts.
"There is no infrastructure for the arts in this town," Francois says. "We can create that. There's already a network of artists that we have and we can give them exposure through this building."
The men envision few roadblocks as the project moves through city government. Tampa city officials have largely encouraged green building. Earlier this year, Mayor Pam Iorio and the Tampa City Council adopted policies requiring all new city facilities to meet certain environmental standards. In addition, they approved incentives for environmentally sustainable development, including a "fast-track review" for applicable permits.
But few green projects have gotten off the ground since due to economic woes. Arnauts, the developer, thinks Project 3.0 could break that trend and become a new model for housing and commercial development.
"When you talk about real estate in this market ... this is the right time," Arnauts says. "The conventional way of doing things is so broken that this presents an opportunity for change."
He is a crackhead. Tell all your friends that Florida is being part run by…
Took almost 20 years to execute Oba Chandler. 10 years for Ted Bundy. 17 years…
Hey Rottenslam, sorry, been busy, will provide some video when I get a breather this…
I have a pickup truck and live less than 2 miles from a recycling center…