Another Green Milestone as Solar-Powered City Takes Shape in Florida

Just days after news that the Empire State Building would undergo an environmentally sustainable retrofit, green development has reached another milestone, with the unveiling of a plan to develop the world’s first solar-powered city.Real estate developer Kitson & Partners has announced an agreement with electric utility Florida Power & Light to build a solarvoltaic power plant at Babcock Ranch, Fla., which will provide all of the power to a 17,000-acre mixed-use development (pictured). The developer said that the the project, dubbed Babcock Ranch, will consume less power than the proposed Florida Power & Light facility, which will allow it to become the first city on earth to be powered by zero-emission solar energy. “This is a game changer,” said Syd Kitson, chairman & CEO of Kitson & Partners. He said his company has increasingly been focused on building green, “long before it was cool.” Babcock Ranch will include an integrated “smart grid” that will allow residents and businesses to monitor and control their energy consumption. All commercial buildings and homes in the new city will be certified as energy efficient, the developer says, and constructed according to Florida Green Building Council Standards. Over half of its 17,000 acres will be permanently protected as greenways and open space, and the city is adjacent to the 73,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preserve. Babcock Ranch will take 15 to 20 years to build out, and will ultimately include 6 million square feet of retail, commercial, office, civic and light industrial space. The entire city will be wireless-Internet enabled, and an ultra-high-capacity digital pipeline will support the use of current and emerging technologies. The development will cost in the $2 billion range, which does not include the cost of the buildings. That cost could have been higher, Kitson said. “It would be much more expensive to do a retrofit,” he said. “We are starting with a clean piece of paper.” Babcock Ranch will include 19,500 homes, which will include both multi-family and single-family inventory. and will be sold at a wide range of price points. Groundbreaking on the FPL solar facility is targeted for late 2009, with construction to begin city center scheduled for mid-2010, and construction for the first residential and commercial buildings targeted to begin in lat 2010. “People think this is going to be like The Jetsons,” Kitson said. “We want to be responsible to the environment, but also make it a great place to live.”