Bubil: Sarasota contractor has his eyes on simplicity


He knows full well that he can build super-efficient houses by loading them up with technology, but Sarasota contractor Josh Wynne, the dominant green builder in the state, if not the Southeast, is looking to keep it simple.

“We have been overcomplicating things, getting carried away with technology,” said Wynne, whose Josh Wynne Construction won multiple awards, including the best-in-show Gold Aurora, at the Southeast Building Conference in Orlando last weekend.

He said building the “house of the future” starts with getting back to the roots of good design.

“There is nothing I am ever going to build that is going to be as efficient as almost any house from 100 years ago, when houses were built on the same site where the trees were felled, using truly regional construction,” he said, to take advantage of convenient location, shading and breezes.

“They were energy-efficient, because there was no power grid; they were water-efficient, because water was not easy to come by. So getting back to passive design techniques is huge.”

Wynne saluted the 12 Aurora Awards judges, who put in two weeks reviewing the dozens of entries, for recognizing the value of sustainable design.

“For the first time, the judges were very aware of that,” he said. “TipTopHaus (he also scored big with ‘Fish Camp’ on the north end of Longboat Key) is not the most energy-efficient house I have ever built. It is well-designed to be LEED-Platinum, with passive efforts, but not to the degree of some of my past houses.

“But finally the judges are making efficiency, in general, a priority in design. It is not so much of a novelty anymore as much as it is an imperative.”

“When it comes to energy efficiency and building the house of the future,” said architect Jonathan Parks, who teamed with Wynne to create the multiple-Aurora-winning TipTopHaus, “Josh is driving the bus on that stuff.

“But this year,” Wynne added, “the jury had an affinity for making sustainability important.”

The SEBC’s Lynne Edwards, who coordinates the Aurora Awards, said green building is gaining prominence in what has been a beauty contest that emphasizes striking designs.

“We have always had energy-related entries,” said Edwards. “It’s just that they had never been focused upon by the judges because sometimes those entries are ‘affordable’ homes that were showcasing equipment. All the pictures were of toilets, washing machines, dishwashers.

“The past couple years, sustainability has really grown into these multimillion-dollar homes. The final product is something that someone wouldn’t walk into and realize it is green. It all looks beautiful — yet you are not looking at the insulation.”

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: August 2, 2014
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