On November 6, the City Commission of Key West, Florida unanimously adopted Ordinance 13-19 establishing LEED Certified level certification or Florida Green Building Coalition Bronze level certification as a prerequisite to all residential construction. 

The Ordinance was an update to the existing Building Permit Allocation System creating an application process for the 91 new residential units to be allocated annually. That System ensures residential growth does not exceed hurricane evacuation capacity of the roads in the Florida Keys and Key West has not received new residential units for development since the original 1993 allocation of 1,093 units.

The prerequisites are a local government legislative effort to address the most pressing sustainability issues facing Key West, including potable water consumption, sea level rise and reduction in greenhouse gasses. Developed by City staff in concert with local builders and architects, the aim was “to identify a green building standard requirement that was easy to measure and use, and has been proven successful.”

All new residential units, including additions to existing structures “constituting more than 50% of the value of the building” must be 1.5 feet freeboard, have a rainwater catchment system for the new roof area, and obtain a minimum green building certification.

While it is anticipated most new single family units will pursue LEED for Homes, the Ordinance also authorizes the use of the Florida Green Building Coalition “voluntary green building standard,” which similar to LEED is a credit based third party green building certification system with prerequisites. The Florida standard emphasizes enhanced indoor air quality, water conservation, stormwater management, and affordable and reliable energy.    

Significantly, the Building Permit Allocation System is an annual competitive process where points are awarded for meeting certain goals and “the highest number of points can be achieved by obtaining Green Building Certification, Upgrade 3, which is the equivalent to LEED .. Platinum.” It is anticipated that multi unit development will propose the higher standard.   

And even building renovations that will not trigger the new green building thresholds, must still demonstrate water and energy use at least 15% below the Florida Building Code standards.

It is clear that Key West has embraced sustainability, including mandating green building.