This Florida town wants to become the most sustainable community in America

This Florida town wants to become the most sustainable community in America

When Florida real estate developer Syd Kitson began conceptualizing Babcock Ranch, a planned community located some 20 minutes from Florida’s Fort Myers in 2006, he had a singular goal in mind: prove that a new development could exist in harmony with the environment around it.

A decade later, Kitson’s initial vision is about to become a reality. Coinciding with Earth Day, Babcock Ranch had its official reveal on Friday, April 22, with construction on the community’s homes set to begin this summer. If all goes according to plan, Kitson expects that residents will begin moving into the community sometime next year. When the project is completed, it will pull all of its energy needs from a neighboring 74.5-megawatt solar power plant, which will supply the community with more solar power than they can use from Day One.

“We’ll always be producing more solar energy than energy we are actually using, and we’re very proud of that. And when it’s not solar power, it’s going to be natural gas, which might be the cleanest mix you can find in the country,” Kitson told ThinkProgress.

Kitson’s real estate development company, Kitson & Partners, originally purchased the land in 2005 — a sprawling, 91,000 acre parcel along the southwest Florida coast. Almost immediately, Kitson sold 73,000 acres of the land back to the state, which eventually became the Babcock Ranch Preserve, one of the largest single purchases of conservation land in Florida’s history.

With the remaining 17,000 or so acres, Kitson knew he wanted to build a community that gave back to the land surrounding it. One of the first issues that Kitson had to contend with was the energy needs of a community of that size — a community that would include not just homes, but businesses, schools, and research facilities.

“We started looking into renewable energy and really wanted to reduce our carbon footprint, and we understand that there are a whole variety of solutions to energy and our energy needs,” Kitson said. His team considered everything from wind to biomass to geothermal, but in the end, found their inspiration from the state’s nickname.

We had this vision of making Babcock Ranch the first solar town in America,” he said. “When you look at Florida, we’re in the Sunshine State. That’s not that difficult to figure out.”

Source: Think Progress

Date: October 2016

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Tags assigned to this article:
energy policysolar powerUnited States

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