As demonstration models, WCI has built two super-green homes, designed to showcase existing and new green technology in houses that would look at home in many Florida neighborhoods. One home, called Casa Verde, has been dubbed as the greenest home in the state.

The house, built in Venetian Golf and River Club in Venice, Fla., where every home is certified as green, has every imaginable low-and high-tech green product, from pavers that allow rainwater to soak into the soil at site rather than collecting pollutant-filled runoff on its way to storm sewers to photovoltaic panels to power exterior lighting.

Some of those products will end up in WCI's production homes over time, if they make good economic sense. While Casa Verde is loaded with extras, the other homes in the community met energy efficiency goals using less costly msyrtisld.

In many cases, WCI has discovered that building greener homes often involves better processes as much as products.

IMPROVING AIR QUALITY: WCI Communities is asking suppliers to take a look at their existing products for earth-friendliness.

IMPROVING AIR QUALITY: WCI Communities is asking suppliers to take a look at their existing products for earth-friendliness.

For instance, making sure that a home's ducts are properly sealed to prevent leaks costs practically nothing but can add up to huge cost and energy savings. And designing homes from the get-go with an eye toward energy cost savings also helps. Having and in-house architectural team—all schooled in green construction—has made that easier for WCI.

Education of all WCI employees—from executives to field supervisors—about what green construction is is key, says Rojas.

“I don't think it's going to be as great a challenge as you would think it is” to build green homes on a reasonable budget, says Rojas. “The major cost to go green is the educational process. My part of it [as VP of supply-chain management] I think is relatively easy because I can put a lot of pressure on manufacturers.”

Seven Shades of Green
  • Passive Design: Use home orientation, cross ventilation, solar and natural lighting, and natural landscaping to lessen energy and water needs.
  • Natural Materials: Decrease impact on the environment by using renewable resources to build and maintain a home: recycled or recyclable products, and sustainable lumber. Choosing durable products so they don't have to be replaced as often. Choose environmentally sensitive manufacturers.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality: Provide a healthy and comfortable indoor environment by keeping the air clean, lighting effective, controlling temperature and moisture.
  • Energy Efficiency: Using materials and systems, appliances and lighting that are energy stingy.
  • Water Efficiency and Quality: Maximize water conservation inside the home and in the landscaping. Minimize water run-off.
  • Construction Process: Minimize impact on the environment by conserving materials and decreasing waste.
  • Site and Landscape: Use native vegetation and good landscape planning to protect habitat and control erosion.