Featured image by Lawrence Anderson

What’s going on? 

  • Hundreds of thousands of people move to Florida each year. As the third most populous state, we require proper infrastructure to support the arrival of new residents. Construction and demolition are environmentally costly processes, and about a quarter of Florida’s municipal solid waste production comes from development. Urban sprawl is projected to increase by 15% in the coming decades, double what it is now, resulting in over one third of Florida’s landscape being developed.  
  • In the aftermath of construction, most buildings in Florida run on fossil fuels, taking up an estimated 93% of electricity consumption in the state. Florida is focused on fast development to keep up with the influx of people. Central Florida is projected to have the biggest development and sprawl out of all regions in the state. 
  •  Researchers with the University of Florida GeoPlan center conclude that at the rate we are going, it is difficult to envision what Florida will look like in a few decades. They hope to share the results of their study to help the state produce a vision of more efficient land use and still sustain future growth. 
  • Regenerative design uses natural world materials and landscapes as they exist on a site as the building blocks of future development. It focuses on reducing the environmental impacts of a building through conservation and performance, treating the surrounding ecosystem as an equal shareholder of a development project.  
  • Unlike sustainable design, regenerative design focuses on repairing and remediating the Earth’s damaged life systems. Working through an ecological worldview, this theory recognizes all life as connected and requires restorative, mutually beneficial solutions. Stewardship is central to regenerative design theory because it requires local ecological knowledge of the specific site.  

Why it matters. 

  • Florida’s current land development and construction process is carbon intensive, generates substantial amounts of waste, and takes away from the beauty of the state’s natural landscape.  
  • Regenerative design and architecture can provide a real solution to the amount of waste generated from construction in Florida. As we have an ever-expanding population, with up to one thousand new residents moving to the state each day, using regenerative design in new buildings and retrofitting old ones could prove to be essential in maintaining the quality of our environment, infrastructure, and life. 
  • The Kendada building on Georgia Tech’s campus was built to blur the line between the indoors and outdoors. A blend of natural and manmade, this is the first building in the southeastern U.S. to be fully certified under the Living Building Challenge. 

What you can do. 

  • In Florida, development and land use are dictated by many laws and regulations that are passed each year. By researching and supporting political candidates that reflect your stances, you can make an impact. 
  • Through certification programs, you can have your home vetted and retrofitted to align with green construction and architecture guidelines. A popular certification program is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a green building rating system. At multiple tiers, residential and commercial buildings can be assessed with LEED as it provides a framework for innovative sustainable design.