BABCOCK RANCH SETTING A NEW STANDARD FOR SMART, SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
21 July 2021 | Lisa Hall
Solar-Powered Florida town recognized as “Game Changer” in 2021 Edison Awards Competition
Babcock Ranch, Fla. – People across the nation are talking a lot about the need for responsible growth, sustainability and “smart cities.” But to find someone who is doing something about it – you have to travel to Babcock Ranch in Southwest Florida.
Finalists in the 2021 Edison Awards made that trip last April when Babcock Ranch hosted the “Meet the Innovators Forum” – a full day of education programming that led up to the annual awards gala which was held for the first time this year in Fort Myers. Field trips around Babcock Ranch highlighted key features that earned the solar-powered town recognition as a Sustainability “Game Changer” in the global competition that honors the world’s top innovations and innovators.
“All the things that people have talked about –net-zero energy emissions, advanced technological infrastructure, minimizing the development footprint, a network of clean transportation alternatives to reduce the number of automobiles per household – we’re doing it,” said Syd Kitson, Chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners and the founder of Babcock Ranch.
The vision for Babcock Ranch started with preservation. The new town is the economic engine that made it possible to put 80% of the historic Babcock Ranch – 73,000 acres – into permanent preservation. Of the 18,000 acres that make up the footprint of the new town, another 9,000 acres have been set aside for greenspace.
Located squarely in the path of growth within one of the nation’s fastest growing regions, Babcock Ranch’s master plan provides for a total of 19,500 residential units with a projected population of 50,000. Just five years since breaking ground, Babcock Ranch already ranks among the list of fastest-growing developments.
At Babcock Ranch sustainability features are woven right into the infrastructure. From the 150mw of utility-scale power flowing from the Florida Power & Light solar fields that make this the nation’s first solar-powered town to the gigabyte of fiber connectivity for every home and business, Babcock Ranch leverages economies of scale and cutting-edge technologies to make green living affordable.
“People care about what we’re doing as a society, but as much as they want to be sustainable, it still has to make economic sense for them individually,” Kitson said. “I don’t think just because it’s sustainable – just because you’re doing it the right way – means it needs to be more expensive. And we’re proving that out.”
Innovative technology is the foundation for the passive and active conservation measures that are an integral part of Babcock Ranch’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Beyond clean, renewable energy to power the whole town, smart-grid technology combines with standards for energy efficient design and construction to reduce total energy consumption community-wide.
The technology infrastructure also makes Babcock Ranch perfect for companies looking to explore new and emerging sustainable technologies.
“Solar power, sustainable building, smart grid, and other ‘clean techs’ are the future,” said Syd Kitson, Chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners. “The next few years will usher in unprecedented opportunity and Babcock Ranch is perfectly positioned to attract and incubate innovative companies who want to reduce their environmental footprint.”
With six million square feet of commercial and retail space, Babcock Ranch offers boundless opportunities for partnerships, innovation, entrepreneurship – a living laboratory where great new technologies are incubated, adopted and continually improved to stay on the cutting edge.
“We’re focused on sustainability because it is what is right for the environment – and because it is good business,” Kitson explained. “For future generations, we are creating an environment where our kids will feel open to exploring new ideas and using technology in new ways to transform their lives.”