From the very beginning, Wekiva Island was rooted in the idea of sustainability. When our owner, Bill Weinaug, purchased the property in 2008, his goal was to transform a rundown marina into a place where the community could not only gather, but also learn about sustainability—and incorporate changes into their own lives.
Because of this mission, Earth Day has always been an important holiday for us. This year, the theme of Earth Day is Restore Our Earth. Surrounding that theme are topics of natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.
All of those areas hit home for us at Wekiva Island, as we’re already doing things to help heal Earth. In honor of Earth Day on April 22 and true to our founding mission, we wanted to share with you three ways Wekiva Island is making a difference.
1) LEEDing the way
If you have ever attended Orlando events at Wekiva Island, you might have had the chance to experience The Mike Barr Education & Training Center. Our Classroom, located near the boat stalls at the entrance to Wekiva Island, is the only LEED Platinum building in all of Seminole County.
LEED is the measuring stick the U.S. Green Building Council uses to determine how ecofriendly buildings are. Our Classroom is not only LEED certified, it is LEED Platinum, the highest level.
How did we reach that distinction of sustainable development? The building incorporates many eco friendly practices. To start, the air conditioning in the building is geothermal and powered by none other than the spectacular Wekiva River, which stays a constant 72 degrees all year. Electricity comes from the solar panels on the bridge to the building and the array near the boat stalls. All of the lights are LED, and rainwater is used to flush the toilets.
The building still maintains its beauty, too, and fits with the gorgeous landscape, using repurposed wood from the old bridge, boardwalks and old boat stalls from the former marina throughout.
2) Saving with solar
But we haven’t rested on our laurels at Wekiva Island. Over the years, we have continued to ask ourselves how we can do better and do more. We have several existing solar arrays. And, if you’ve been to Wekiva Island in the past few months, you might have gotten a glimpse at our latest answer to that question.
At the riverfront near the bar and Without a Paddle Café, we have been working on a BIG project—our new Solar Array. It is striking to look at but this new structure is also very powerful.
With its solar panels, we will be able to reduce our power consumption at Wekiva Island by over 30 percent, cutting our energy associated carbon footprint to 80 percent of the property’s peak .
3) Going carbon neutral with C.E.R.O.
Our Solar Array doesn’t just look great and add to our solar capacity. It’s also part of a bigger vision for Wekiva Island.
Back when Bill Weinaug purchased the property, he had a goal to become one of the first businesses in the southeast to become carbon neutral. He saw the effect dumping carbon into the atmosphere was having, and he wanted Wekiva Island to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. To that end, Wekiva Island adopted the 2030 challenge to go carbon neutral. To do that, Bill created C.E.R.O. as a tool.
C (Conservation) — Located on the edge of the amazing Wekiva River, Wekiva Island has a responsibility to minimize its impact on the natural world by consuming less. To do so, we have “green” buildings, waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, local vegetation, a strong recycling program and more in place to help control consumption.
E (Efficiency) — What we do consume at Wekiva Island, we aim to consume as efficiently as possible. We have energy star equipment, occupancy-controlled lighting, LED lighting, and brought in the geothermal AC in our buildings.
R (Renewables) — When possible, we draw on renewable sources of energy at Wekiva Island. To that end, we have installed the solar power discussed above, have solar powered hot water, and utilize rain water for water closet flush at Wekiva Island.
O (Offsets) — Though we work hard to save water and reduce energy consumption to shrink our carbon footprint at the Island, it is still not enough. We also have a program to create offsets by doing positive projects in our local community. In addition, we purchase offsets from companies or individuals doing good elsewhere—because reducing carbon is not just a problem for Seminole County businesses or businesses in Florida or the U.S. It is a problem for our home planet.
We at Wekiva Island are incredibly proud to be part of making a difference. We hope when you, our valued guests, visit us, you’ll see some of these world-changing ideas and tools in process. But more than that, we hope you’ll be inspired to make some changes yourself.
How will you help this Earth Day?