Sep 15, 2022 - Business

Sarasota-based Eco-$mart is building a sustainable future

Two version of secure lock homes.
Secure-Lock homes. Courtesy of Eco-Smart Inc.

Sarasota-based Eco-$mart president Matt Ross has heard the same refrain for 30 years as he has tried to convince builders to use more sustainable, earth-friendly, energy-efficient products.

  • "Pioneers get arrows in the back."

In other words: Even if a greener product makes financial sense, builders are slow to switch. Nobody wants to go first.

Yes, but: COVID might've changed all that.

What's happening: The spike in the cost of construction materials and the rising cost of labor has opened the door for a new type of house built out of insulated panels that takes a five-person team one week to assemble, Ross tells Axios.

  • Secure-Lock Structural Insulated Panels are high-performance building panels that use expanded polystyrene foam insulation sandwiched between steel skins.
  • And builders are catching on. Ross points to a townhome project going up now at 1261 Park Street in Clearwater that's using them.

Details: Eco-$mart can build an energy-efficient home safe from hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, pests and mold for a fraction of the cost of conventional new construction.

The big picture: Ross will showcase the panels and other cutting-edge sustainable housing technology at the Environmental Design Conference Sept. 22-23, hosted by New College of Florida and the Sarasota chapter of the Interior Design Society.

  • The conference, featuring 11 experts in green building, will talk about things like environmental landscape design and solar electricity.

If you go: Starts at 9am both days at the Harry Sudakoff Center at New College of Florida in Sarasota. Tickets: $5-$25; students are free.

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