Many people visiting Shalimar, Fla., don’t want to miss one of the town’s attractions: a sprawling European-style waterfront estate on Lorraine Bayou. Featuring a 4,000-square-foot main house; 1,600-square-foot carriage house; and 1,200-square-foot guesthouse, the estate offers luxurious finishes and phenomenal views all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
But these qualities only hint at its uniqueness. The structures are built to be highly secure against intrusion, resistant to storms sweeping off the Gulf and able to create their own electricity. All interior lighting, exterior lighting and dock lights are LED lighting fixtures using minimal electricity.
The crowning touch is a stone-coated, barrel-vault metal roofing system that not only resists 170-mph winds, but saves energy, as well. No wonder the electric bill for this three-structure estate is $47 and its gas bill is $14 per month.
This estate, the EcoSmart Demonstration Home, is about 50 miles east of Pensacola. This is the second eco-friendly showcase house I have built; the first eco-friendly showcase house was built in nearby Destin. The Shalimar home is open to visitors as a working educational model of an entirely green residence.
It’s a home but actually set up as a business. I can educate people about the top green products, teaching them about how they work and the benefits of saving energy and money. The demonstration home is designed to allow us to educate people first, and then talk about products.
Located at 781 Boulevard of the Champions, the EcoSmart Demonstration Home is set near the water on a “point lot” overlooking Lorraine Bayou with extraordinary waterway accessibility to Destin, Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The home is perfect for the site because we have views of everything. On the point, there are barges and sailing clubs coming up. We’re looking behind the bayou to Destin, and behind that is the Gulf. We have great breezes off the Gulf and bayou. We get the trade winds up here; that’s the great thing about this part of Florida.
EcoSmart aims its sustainable products message not just at industry professionals but environmentally minded homebuyers, as well. We’re teaching industry professionals, like architects, probuilders, residential and commercial developers, and consumers interested in eco-friendly construction and sustainability. We also teach university and school groups. We have had officials and executives of Southern Company, which is called Gulf Power here, come by several times to advise us. They’re very excited because the home is green.
Visitors aren’t required to pay an admission fee, but there are requirements to touring the EcoSmart Demonstration Home. It’s open by appointment only to people who have a current project and aren’t just looking. We ask people to bring their builders and architects with them because if we’re educating all of them at once, we’re saving time. We’re getting them started and thinking along the same lines.
Building the Home
Before construction commenced on the EcoSmart Demonstration Home in2009, my team undertook a full year of site work. That endeavor included the installation of an 11-foot-high, 210-foot-long seawall and stepped-down concrete footers 2-feet wide and 2- to 4-feet deep for security purposes.
PHOTOS: Gerard Roofing