Anna Maria's Green Village awarded environmental achievements

ANNA MARIA -- A local project has become the new "green" building standard for Southwest Florida.

The Historic Green Village has been awarded Platinum LEED certification and been named a Net Zero Energy project -- two achievements only given to developments with the highest standards of environmentally-friendly building practices.

Only about 100 other projects in the world can claim both titles.

The classifications will be celebrated with a reception at 4 p.m. today at the Village Cafe at Rosedale, when U.S. Green Building Council officials will present a plaque for the achievement.

"This is a show-and-tell demonstration of how to build green," said Zoe Keech, a marketing specialist for the project. "It's quite significant."

The Historic Green Village is a private development of five plats on Anna Maria Island's Pine Avenue, four that will eventually house redeveloped buildings. One is new construction.

Developed by a British couple who created an organic baby food company in the United Kingdom, Mike and Lizzie Thrasher discovered the City of Anna Maria during a 2005 vacation. The couple also has been developing seven luxury vacation villas under the Pineapplefish name.

The roof of the three completed buildings at the Green Village are blanketed with solar panels that produce $10,000 worth of electricity each year.

Coupled with extra insulation, energy-efficient windows and an air-conditioning system that uses half the energy of most, the village generates more electricity that it actually uses each year, an accomplishment recognized by the Net Zero Energy classification.

The Platinum LEED certification is designated for two of the buildings -- the highest standard for "green" construction in the U.S. Once completed, the developers plan to ap

ply for recognition of the other three.

"This is a vision we had to show the world you can have small commercial buildings that are extremely energy-efficient," Lizzie Thrasher said.

"People are very interested in taking these lessons back to see how they can incorporate them into their own homes."

The Historic Green Village now houses the Village Cafe at Rosedale and a vacant Sears Cottage. Construction is underway to renovate the Pillsbury House, where a lease agreement has been reached with what will soon become the city's first physician.

The final building is slated for a crafts studio.

Green Village also plays host to the "Angler's Lodge" -- a 99-year-old, two-story building that was physically moved by a truck last May from its former home at the 100 block of North Bay Boulevard half a mile away.

The Relish Vintage Artisan Boutique has relocated from another building in the Green Village to Angler's Lodge, where the store also has expanded to carry kitchen products.

It officially opened in the new location during the Food and Wine on Pine festival last Saturday.

Store owner Rhonda Grote said everything sold at Relish either is recycled, refashioned, vintage or hand-made by a local artist -- fitting in with the park's "green" theme.

Even the display shelves at Relish are made from recycled wood and the home-made candles are put in reused jelly jars. Grote also takes donated clothing items and re purposes them to become fashionable again.

"It's really all about resourcefulness," Grote said. "This is a community village. We don't want just a bunch of T-shirt shops."

Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman.