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WCI Gift Assures Florida Gulf Coast University Green Building Project to Go Forth
5/9/2001

FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University's commitment to environmental
education forged ahead today when Watermark Communities Inc. (WCI) President
Jerry Starkey delivered a $350,000 check to FGCU President William C.
Merwin, helping the University complete its fundraising campaign for the
Green Building project.
To be named the WCI Green Building Demonstration and Learning
Center, the facility will foster environmentally sustainable and healthy
building, housing and landscape practices in Southwest Florida through
demonstration projects and educational outreach programs.
"We are delighted that WCI is partnering with the University on this
important project that emphasizes environmental sustainability," said
President Merwin. "FGCU offers a strong academic curriculum and degree
program in environmental studies, and our students will benefit from the
instructional attributes of this demonstration project that illustrates the
appropriate balance between responsible development and environmental
conservation."
The Green Building project was instituted in the spring of 1998 by a
group of individuals associated with the building industry who saw the need
to help people make better decisions about building and landscaping to
improve quality of life opportunities for present and future generations.
They approached FGCU to partner in this endeavor. As a result, the WCI Green
Building Demonstration and Learning Center is the first demonstration
project and teaching facility with a focus on environmentally sustainable
building practices and environmentally friendly landscaping.
Southwest Florida has a natural infrastructure, a subtropical
natural environment that provides "quality of life services" such as clean
air, clean water, water storage, sites for ecotourism, fisheries and
biodiversity. The concern is that current building and landscaping practices
are placing unsustainable pressures on the natural infrastructure and
reducing quality of life. Current building practices are using up limited
resources at great ecological and economic costs. "Green" building and
landscaping techniques appropriate to Southwest Florida's unique climate and
environment can conserve energy, water, materials, time and natural
ecosystems while promoting safety, health and accessibility.
The WCI Green Building Demonstration and Learning Center will be the
catalyst for environmentally sustainable demonstration projects and outreach
programs designed for building and landscape professionals and
conservationists. The building itself will be an example of:
* Environmentally sustainable building practices
* Use of resource efficient materials
* Healthy house design
* Environmentally friendly landscaping
* Water conservation systems
* Solar energy applications
* Energy efficiency
* Non-toxic building materials
* Design for handicapped and elderly
* Hurricane protection features
* Recycling systems
* Safe house features
* Low maintenance cost
* Long term durability
* Ease of use

The educational outreach program will strive to:
* Reach a broad range of individuals and groups in the
community
* Partner with others that have already developed similar
programs
* Identify gaps in the educational process
* Develop marketing strategies to insure for maximum
participants
* Use a mix of delivery modes for delivery of green building
information to the community

Florida Gulf Coast University is currently offering courses such as
a Colloquium, required of all students, Issues in Ecology and the
Environment, Environmental Technology, and Conservation Strategies for
Sustainable Future to address environmental sustainability issues. FGCU
continuing education programs in partnerships with professional
architecture, building, interior design and landscape design associations
can be provided. The FGCU Small Business Innovation Center offers advice and
information to new entrepreneurial "green building" businesses.
Today's event marked the culmination of three years of work by
University officials and groups associated with the home building industry
to bring the plans to life. The $500,000 raised from the community by the
FGCU Foundation, Inc. is matched dollar for dollar by the State legislature.
The design phase for the building will begin December 2001. The building
will be located near the main entrance to the University.
Contact Dr. John Fitch, FGCU College of Arts and Sciences Professor,
and Environmental and Green Building Project Director, at (941) 590-7170, or
Roy Bonnell Jr., FGCU Green Building Project Manager, at (941) 263-6819 for
more information.
As an accredited comprehensive public university, FGCU addresses the
higher educational needs of Southwest Florida and provides a
learning-centered environment that offers high quality educational
opportunities for the general public.

-FGCU-

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