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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

My Green Buildings

Jun 06, 2011 01:17PM ● By By: Suzi Harkola

In the past five years, Steve Ellis, LEED AP and Grant Castilow, LEED AP have driven MyGreenBuildings to a regional leadership position in innovative, creative residential and commercial buildings. The company has earned national awards for their work, which includes a luxury beachfront home that is rated as LEED Platinum by the US Green Building Council. At first blush, one might think “green” and “luxury” an oxymoron. But Ellis’ crew has put that to rest. Their construction is designed to maximize natural elements of space, environment and efficiency. The lines are clean, crisp and beautiful, and the construction and execution is efficient.

But there’s more to the story. Ellis and Castilow are dedicated to corporate citizenship in Sarasota and surrounding communities. “I hope we can lead by example,” Ellis explained. “By delivering clients high-craftsmanship with a dose of environmental stewardship, we’re putting people to work on something that is meaningful and it gives them an extra dose of pride in their work product. We get the extra effort from our team that delivers a product that has terrific attention to detail, is healthier for them, and less expensive to maintain in the years to come. In my opinion, we are driving the local economy in a way that is sustainable. People are catching on to this nuance, and as our company grows, it gives us an opportunity to ‘pay it forward’.”

Although a small enterprise, the examples are numerous: providing philanthropic support to local nonprofits like the Southeastern Guide Dogs, Humane Society of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Conservation Foundation (a local land trust), and donating a living rooftop exhibit to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

In 2010, MyGreenBuildings teamed up with students at Phillippi Shores Elementary and the Warren Backpack Program to make sure classmates had the tools needed to succeed. Funded by equal grants from the two organizations, fifth-graders at Phillippi Shores kicked off the program last September when they packed their first round of 50 backpacks with nonperishable food to donate to 50 of the school’s neediest children. This program was funded for these children for an entire year. Catherine Ellis donates additional time shopping for the groceries for the program.

Through the corporation’s Community Support for Local Resources Program, company executives and employees have volunteered hundreds of hours for important local causes, along with substantial financial contributions to organizations including public and private schools, Florida House, the Sarasota Economic Development Corporation, Sarasota Emerging Architects and several county-sponsored initiatives.

The company’s efforts have been acknowledged. MyGreenBuildings was named the Sarasota County’s 2010 Economic Development Council Hall of Fame Winner, and won the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Green Builder of the Year in Natural Awakenings Magazine Natural Choice Awards. MyGreenBuildings ranked among the 50 fastest-growing businesses in the region from Tampa to Naples, according to the Gulf Coast Business Review 500 in 2009, and again in 2010.

“Finding ourselves on the top of the list as a builder in this economy says a lot about how our company is being perceived in the marketplace and about how High Performance Building has become so important to people building new homes and renovating older homes,” said Ellis.

“Grant and I both grew up with the philosophy that the more you give, the more you get,” he stated. “Just look at it from our standpoint. When you’re lucky enough to live in paradise, and grow a successful business literally building dreams for people who all come here for the amazing life that Sarasota offers, it becomes pretty obvious that we need to keep our money working here, and to do whatever we can to support the community, natural and environmental resources that make this place so special.”

MyGreenBuildings is an award winning, certified general contractor that specializes in building high-performance, artistically designed structures using carefully executed, and sustainable construction practices. For more information, visit

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