CL's favorite green scene? The Roosevelt Art Gallery

[image-1]“He was a young guy, starting out his own company,” says Arnauts. “This guy puts in our bathroom on New Year’s Eve. Keep in mind, our first event was on New Year’s Day. Well, first thing we realize is, this guy is starting out on his own and doesn’t even have business cards.”


Boyer installed PEX tubing, an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional PVC provided by plumbing sponsor, Uponor. In exchange for his service, in-house artist Isaiah Perkins designed and printed Boyer’s business cards.


“What we’ve got here is infrastructure to enable creative individuals to get off the ground and launch their career in what they’re passionate about doing,” says Arnauts.


And that’s how the team has done business all along.


[image-2] created The Roosevelt’s two-part, 65 percent agro-based (soybean), polyurethane roofing, which creates a continuous, solid surface that insulates, waterproofs, and includes a food-grade coating for rainwater catchment. The Roosevelt got limited local approval to install WDG’s product on the roof, “which allowed us to help provide some testing data to the state, which aided this company in getting their product approved for use in the state of Florida,” says Roberts.


Craig Trover is getting his Master’s degree in architecture from USF. He’s been part of The Roosevelt team, “from the beginning,” says Arnauts, and is drafting all the plans for the façade and for the rear elevation, where they’re building a custom, low-voltage lift system. American Architectural Restoration is the company doing the façade renovation. They’re the same company that renovated the Federal Trade Commission building and the Capitol building in D.C.


The air conditioning system, sponsored by Water Source Technologies, produces 70 to 100 gallons of purified water daily, and is soon to furnish the re-harvested wood coffee bar by Liberty Woodworking. The air conditioning unit is a prototype that produces five tons of cooling using the energy-input of a two-ton unit.


Adjacent to that unit will be a condensing unit to recapture the heat pulled out of the building. It’ll put that heat back into the purified water for use as a hot water source.


“Any time we use energy, we want to use it as efficiently as possible,” says Roberts.


Take, for example, the seven skylights designed with a repeated prism pattern that’s engineered to reflect radiant energy away from the building while diffusing light in. Sponsored by Solarlightisfree.com, these skylights keep the building well lit, but also cool, thereby lowering energy consumption.


Roberts says already, with the roof coating and the skylights alone, the Roosevelt has an energy cost that is easily less than half what a typical building of their size consumes. As they move toward zero energy, he says, they also want to reduce their consumption as much as possible.


Part of that is learning to use resources wisely, and the water from the air conditioning unit is one example. “It’s already going through everything,” says Francois, motioning toward the collection tank in the back room, “the toilets, the sinks, everything.” Right now, the reappropriated water is mixed with city water. Eventually, however, the goal is to become completely independent of city resources, just like the Earthship.


That includes electrical independence. “As we continue on with the building, we’re looking to develop some alternative methods of generating power,” says Roberts. “Rather than just solar photovoltaic, we’re looking at doing some solar thermal-to-electricity conversion, too.” Roberts says with solar photovoltaic panels (“solar panels” for short), most of the systems out there right now are in the 12 percent efficiency range, whereas with the solar-thermal units, “you can get efficiencies higher, in the 70 to 80 percent range, meaning that 70 to 80 percent of that energy is converted directly into electricity.” Most likely, the team will end up using a combination of the two systems. Not only is that more efficient, says Roberts, but they’ll also have a backup in case one system fails.


“We’ve also done biodiesel completely,” says Francois, who’s going to build a multimedia studio upstairs, run completely by the building’s off-grid power. “The way we have our panel hooked up, we can just hook up a generator to it, and it will power the whole building.”


[image-3]Francois’ current upstairs setup satisfies most of The Roosevelt’s marketing and video production needs under the umbrella of his independent company, Tek-Nique Entertainment, and his joint venture with Arnauts, The Campus TV. Francois oversees a team of four or five interns who do the social networking, street outreach, and design work. He also produces all of the Project 3.0 episodes.


Project Threepointwhat? Well, without money, The Roosevelt team has had to come up with creative ways to pay back the community. Enter the documentary series.


“What the episodes of the Project 3.0 show will demonstrate is exactly how we’ve self-capitalized this company basically without any financial resources whatsoever,” explains Arnauts. “Our philosophy is that everything is a joint venture. So, what the show really demonstrates is how these business relationships have evolved from the very beginning, and how we’ve been able to build out this building.”


Each episode follows a different phase of The Roosevelt’s construction, from connecting with a sponsor to finishing the renovation. The first episode premiered at January’s “Re:Create: The Art of Upcycle” event and featured interviews with Roberts, Arnauts and other members of the Project 3.0 team. The next three or four episodes will focus on specific companies that sponsored large parts of the construction.


“What the company gets out of it is basically an instruction manual on their product,” says Arnauts.


In fact, a large part of The Roosevelt’s mission seems to be instructive. In the midst of all this creative madness, they’ll host workshops on every arts-and-environmental topic from “guerilla gardening,” to design and multimedia, to small business incubation.


Francois is responsible for coordinating the workshops, as well as interfacing with local artists. He plans to marry these two branches of his work by bringing in a series of workshops that teach “upcycled” artwork.


“We’re going to carry on with the theme of (the ‘Re:Create’) show, which was upcycling – taking disposable items or things that people consider garbage, and making them into something either of use, or just giving it a value,” like the salvaged wood used to make The Roosevelt’s in-progress shelving system, or the rehashed clothing worn by “faithful volunteer” David Burleson, who makes upcycled origami, “out of pretty much anything,” says Francois.


Another example is Francois’ soon-to-be upstairs multimedia studio, which will use a material called “papercrete” – newspaper that’s ground up and then mixed with cement to form a very insulative, soundproof layer, perfect for lining a recording studio. It’s inexpensive, and easy to use, says Roberts. “So, as we create the studio up here, that these guys are going to be setting up, we’ll be doing workshops to teach people how to work with that material.”


But in the midst of all this, if there’s one message The Roosevelt team wants to relay, it’s that everyone is welcome.


“Anyone who has an idea or a talent, or something that they feel they can contribute to this, and they have a desire to see their dream become a reality, then we welcome them on board,” says Roberts.


Arnauts agrees. “Whether you’re a musician, artist – whatever, film school – there’s a slot for you on this team,” he says. “That’s it. It’s that simple.


“What we’ve been able to do with the business philosophy, is literally grow from us three, to – it’s well over sixty people.”


[image-4]

Ybor’s art scene has never acted so natural.

Since beginning construction 14 months ago, The Roosevelt team has taken its antique building – so-named because it once housed Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders – from leaky and creaky to clean and green.

“If we weren’t all really passionate about what we do here, then this project wouldn’t be what it is today,” says Bryan Roberts, one of the Roosevelt’s three über team leaders, and contractor of the first Earthship in Florida. Roberts and the other two Roosevelt frontmen, Rudy Arnauts and Steve Francois, have turned their building into a fully functioning, carbon-free art gallery and multipurpose space with “zero” startup capital and no lack of elbow grease.

The gallery has attracted a legion of sponsors – over 60, according to the last count by Arnauts, who doubles as The Roosevelt’s marketing guru – to spruce up the building in exchange for services like, in the case of plumber Joe Boyer, free advertising.

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