To help describe Sky's architectural style Julia and her team of designers and architects point to several of the homes they've designed in nearby Rosemary Beach which include elements such as tree house porches.
A Livable Laboratory
The Sky development team plans to not just employ the latest energy technologies when building begins, but also to help develop and test more of them as time passes. For starters, Sky, in conjunction with Florida State University’s Center for Advanced Power Systems, received a $1.8 million grant from the state to be used to study and implement a plan for utilities in the town.
Among the technologies under consideration are a solar energy plant, a system of cisterns that will be used as an auxiliary water source, and a chiller plant that will pump cold water to all buildings for an ultra-efficient air-cooling system. The community will also serve as something of a laboratory for new sustainable energy technologies. “We have plans for five villages,” says Bruce. “Each village will have a three-year build-out from start to finish. Because of that, each successive village will be able to use the next generation of technologies.”
For and of The Ages
Sky isn’t, however, only about the latest technologies. Sky’s five villages, which will encompass slightly more than half of the total developable area, will be surrounded and separated by agricultural land and open space. As planned, the villages will offer home sites ranging in size from 125 of an acre to 3 acres. Julia will direct much of the design protocol for Sky. “I studied and lived in Europe when I was young, and I was struck by the permanence of the buildings and public gardens,” says Julia. “It is environmentally responsible to build structures that last. We hope to create buildings that last a millennium. “Sky is an opportunity for Florida to take a leadership role in the implementation of solutions for a sustainable world,” she adds. “Hopefully, in 20 years, Sky will have inspired hundreds of similar communities.” •
The Sky Institute
According to its developers, one of Sky’s cornerstones will be the Sky Institute. An all-in-one teaching, research, and conference center to be built on 2 acres, the institute will provide a facility for research and development of various sustainable living practices. “The Institute, at its core, will be there to provide a research arm for the basic ideas that Sky is pursuing,” says Steve Mouzon, director of the New Urban Guild who is on the board of the Sky Institute.
In addition to developing new environmentally friendly energy technologies, organic farming techniques, and other Green-living practices, the institute will also work to further hone the definitions for sustainable communities and buildings. Here’s what Steve and the institute are working with now.
A sustainable community must embody the following characteristics.
- Feedable: It must be able to feed its residents.
- Serviceable: All daily needs must be within walking distance.
- Accessible: Whether they’re doctors, teachers, or emergency personnel, people who provide the services must live nearby.
A sustainable building must embody the following characteristics.
- Lovable: “It must be lovable,” says Steve, “or it gets carted off to a landfill.”
- Durable: “We must conceive of creating millennium buildings again.” But, Steve adds, “the myth of no-maintenance is true if you plan on bulldozing it in 15 years.” Buildings must be cared for and adaptable, which leads to the next point…
- Flexible and recyclable: The interior must be adaptable so residents can accommodate new technologies.
- Frugal: Buildings must be efficient to decrease waste.
"The Land of Sky" is from the April 2008 issue of Florida Livings, a special section of Southern Living for our subscribers in Florida.