Southface Sarasota

Florida House Institute is now Southface Sarasota! In May 2021, Southface Institute joined forces with Florida House Institute to create Southface Sarasota. This is our first regional outpost beyond our Atlanta headquarters. Florida House Institute has been a much beloved Sarasota institution, and has made valuable contributions to sustainability thinking and practice in the region. Now, with the capacity and reach of Southface added to complement that wonderful legacy, we are stronger together.

History

Florida House has a rich history of leadership in the community. As the first green building open to the public in the United States, the “Florida House” has been educating the public and creating new regional markets for energy, water conservation, recycling, and landscape design for nearly 25 years.

Envisioning our future has challenged us to clarify the unique value Florida House Institute (FHI) brings to our community. The single best measure of our mission success is engaging citizens to preserve and create meaningful improvement in our community’s assets—social, economic, built, and natural.

The greater Sarasota region became a key focus of our work in 2019, and we ramped up our engagement in 2020, as opportunities arose to partner with key community stakeholders, nonprofits and businesses to bring about a regenerative future—one that gives back more than it takes. With a renewed interest in low-impact development to protect valuable natural and cultural resources, as well as its economy which relies heavily on tourism, this was the perfect opportunity for Southface to expand its footprint.

Programs in Sarasota

As a leading innovator in sustainability work, Southface is extending its reach beyond Georgia and across Sarasota in our research, advocacy, workforce development training and nonprofit grants.

Advocacy

In collaboration with the City of Sarasota, Southface Sarasota works to support the development of the city’s green building, clean energy and energy efficiency policy. Leveraging our building science, sustainable development and planning expertise, we are helping the city shape its goals with an eye toward building a more resilient community, especially for underserved families and businesses.

Healthy Homes

Southface has long worked in the indoor air quality space. Within this work, Southface Sarasota is teaming up with the Sarasota Housing Authority and the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Southface Sarasota to develop a plan for renovations that can both reduce energy and water use—and utility bills– while also improving residents’ health.

Nonprofit Grants

Southface’s GoodUse program helps nonprofits reduce their costs through regrants to support energy and water efficiency projects. With the money saved on their utility bills, they can direct more funds to their mission-critical work. Two Sarasota nonprofits—the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota County and All Faiths food bank—are among those participating in the program.

Leveraging our GoodUse program to complement and enhance the Partners for Green Places program, our work helps build nonprofits’ capacity by reducing their energy and water use.

Low- Impact Development

In collaboration with other sustainability leaders, initiatives and coalitions, Southface Sarasota works to address watershed restoration, increase community resilience, advance energy equity, and support green building and infrastructure plans.

Workforce Development

Our team works to build the green workforce in Sarasota through our trainings, ongoing educational programming, and partnerships with local businesses to ensure a pipeline of highly-skilled talent.

Demonstration House and Gardens

Southface Sarasota’s Florida House and surrounding landscape integrates scientific principles and sustainable living practices as part of the foundation of our facility in Sarasota. Our mission is to align land development and management with innovative sustainable design by demonstrating how valuable natural resources are conserved and quality of life improved. The Florida House serves as a living lab for sustainability that spotlights the materials, practices and green building techniques that will help speed the transition to a regenerative economy.

Through our community partnerships, the Florida House demonstrates energy efficient technologies from heat transfer windows, LED lighting, foam insulation and solar panels that power everything from the HVAC system to the water heater. Our facility also showcases landscape development focused on three areas: watershed balance, food supply and biodiversity. Stormwater is retained on-site through a combination of bio-swales, pervious pavers and rainwater cisterns. Our grounds use educational signage that describes the products and elements used throughout the facility.