A tiny beach community in northwest Florida is making its mark as a national model of sustainable construction and resilient design.

Alys Beach is the first development in the country to require that all homes meet the rigorous criteria of the Fortified for Safer Living program, a national inspection-based certification from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. To stand up to hurricanes and high winds, the houses will be constructed with solid masonry roofs and walls and go well beyond code requirements with features like additional wall reinforcement and fireproof materials that protect against natural disasters. Advanced fastening and anchoring systems will add even more permanence to roofs and walls. 

With stark white walls and private courtyards, the homes draw inspiration from architecture and site plans found in Bermuda and the historic city of Antigua, Guatemala, and the homes are positioned to take advantage of water views and Gulf breezes. Master planned by Duany Plater-Zyberk, the 159-acre community includes 1,500 feet of beachfront area and a 20-acre nature preserve. Once complete, it will feature more than 600 rowhouses, courtyard homes, and villas, all of which will be built to Florida’s Green Home Designation standard. Most of the dwellings will be built by the developer's resident construction company, Alys Beach Construction.

Other sustainable and resilient features of the community include:
--Cobblestone pavers set in deep layers of gravel that allow rainfall to filter into the ground instead of running into rivers and streams.
--White roofs and facades that reflect the sun’s heat and keep the town cooler and energy usage lower. 
--A manmade lake that serves as an irrigation reservoir. The iron in the well water that feeds it is allowed to settle on the lake bed, a process aided by a windmill-driven aeration pump. Once clear, the water is distributed for use in site irrigation, free of iron that might harm plants and stain walls.
--Energy Star appliances 
--Edible and indigenous landscaping
--Low-VOC paint 
--Spray foam insulation
--Whole-house water purification
--Rinnai tankless water heaters 

This article was originally featured on our sister site, BUILDER.