April is Earth Month, but it’s important to treat every month like Earth Month, especially when you are one of Destin’s largest business entities. When it comes to environmental responsibility, we are always on top of our game. Offering over 90 retail stores and restaurants, as well as 70,000 square feet of Class A office space expanding over 56 acres, this places an important accountability on Destin Commons to be environmentally all-encompassing.
From the very beginning, since Destin Commons opened in the fall of 2003, we have practiced conservation in many ways. Reclaimed irrigation water from storm water run-off has been in place in the two ponds located at the Center. Waste Management has been a big player with their assistance in the recycling of paper products and cardboard boxes utilizing specific dumpsters for this. Also, our mall management office has gone virtually paperless.
From 2014 to 2016, the Destin Commons underwent a lighting conversion, replacing conventional lighting with LED lighting, replacing 160+ light fixtures. There has been an over 50% reduction in energy savings with the new LED lighting alone. Widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. By 2027, LED lighting will represent a total savings of more than $30 billion annually at today’s electricity prices.
Four car electric charging stations were installed behind Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill in 2014, followed by four additional car charging stations at Whole Foods Market in 2016. We hosted the first National Drive Electric Week Event in Okaloosa County this past fall and will be doing it again this year on September 8, 2017 from 5-8pm in partnership with Gulf Power and Juiced Car Dealership.
Since opening, Destin Commons has made sure to meet, and exceed the required amount of foliage and landscape materials to meet all county requirements. BrightView (formerly ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance) has been the Center’s landscape contractor from the beginning.
The strong partnership has led to many sound landscape changes over the years in the effort to keep the Center at its best, all the while practicing important and safe environmental and horticultural guidelines. As the Center has evolved and expanded, BrightView has incorporated various plantings to promote green space within the Center. In recent months, tree canopies have been raised and trimmed to promote store fronts, while also providing a broader tree canopy for more shade for shoppers. With the raising of the tree canopies, the Center has converted to more shade tolerant turf, as opposed to the traditional sun loving Bermuda grass. These shade loving varieties require less irrigation and fertilizer making it a win-win for the environment.
Last year, Destin Commons’ partnership with BrightView, earned the Trees Destin’s first landscape award by the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce. This award is given to local businesses who display and maintain exemplary landscaping.
Whole Foods Market, a very green grocery store, also practices a significant sustainable food harvesting operation and purchases their fresh daily seafood locally from Harbor Docks. The grocery store is doing their part with recycling, the #1 solution for the environment today. By being a part of Recycle Across America that standardizes the labeling on recycling bins, Whole Foods Market makes it easier for people to begin to recycle the right way and significantly decrease the costly garbage thrown in recycling bins.
According to Jessica Foy, marketing field associate with Whole Food Market, “Since our opening one year ago, we have donated 90,000 pounds of food, and we have diverted approximately 120 tons of material from the landfill through our recycling programs.”
Panera Bread’s food is all natural with locally sourced ingredients. As well, many of the other stores and restaurants also practice their own individual green/sustainability initiatives.
“We all have the Earth in common,” concluded Destin Commons general manager, Bob Perry. “From the Center’s projects, our property sub-contractors, to many of our tenant’s undertakings, we’re committed to a healthy and responsible environment. In general, we have had an 18-month recovery of costs because of our energy savings initiatives.”