Living Sustainably in Tampa Bay: Darren Brinkley, owner of REAL Building

Brinkley stated that he was raised in a very "practical" way by his parents. He can remember an upbringing that included recycling or reusing items frequently, collecting water in rain barrels for a kitchen garden, conserving water, and growing their own vegetables, fruit, and nuts. 

"I have always been interested in nature and the environment," said Brinkley. "I wouldn't go to the extreme and call myself a 'tree hugger' although some people would."

[image-1]Brinkley also practices what he preaches. The home that he built for his family in St. Petersburg (pictured at right) is the first home in Florida to achieve the LEED for Homes Gold Rating. Some of the features of the home include:

  • Designed to maximize natural lighting and ventilation.

  • High efficiency windows and CFL and Energy Star lighting

  • Geothermal technology to obtain free hot water

  • Greywater and rainwater collection systems, dual flush toilets and low flow fixtures

  • Native Florida landscaping

  • No VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints or finishes

However, not only does Brinkley build green and exist in a green building, he feels that it is important to have a modest and efficient lifestyle too. Brinkley, his wife, Amber, and young daughter, Lily, also do extensive home recycling, have a garden in their kitchen for herbs, compost biodegradable waste, and use a clothesline in place of an electric clothes dryer.

Furthermore, Brinkley and his wife have started planning out their meals ahead of time for the week. "Doing this has helped us reduce our food waste down to virtually nothing and helped us save money," he said.

"I ask everyone to try to think more responsibly, take shorter showers and think about waste, learn about new technologies, and pass that information on," says Brinkley.  "I only ask of people what I feel that I can do myself."

Brinkley talks extensively about helping people build green, educating them about the benefits, and just simply trying to preserve the environment of the Tampa Bay area.  Without being explicit, it is clear that his motives are true.

"I believe that we all do what we can to preserve what we have for ourselves and future generations; I want my daughter to grow up on a clean and healthy planet," he said.  "And, in particular, I want to see the entire Bay area become an even cleaner, more sustainable, and beautiful place for my family."

This column is the second in a series of profiles of people who do their part to live more sustainably in Tampa Bay.

Darren Brinkley doesn't pretend to be the most environmentally responsible person in the world or the Tampa Bay area. He just feels that he is trying to do his part to preserve the world around him.

Brinkley is the owner of REAL Building, which stands for 'Responsible, Efficient, Attainable, and Livable Building'. REAL Building only builds green homes, unlike many other companies that will only build green if the client dictates it. 

"We don't build anything that isn't green," Brinkley proclaimed. "We have now mandated some form of rainwater and/or greywater and solar water heaters on all our residential projects."

"We are constantly searching for new and innovative ideas and going the extra mile to bring them to our market, even if it means rocking the boat with a few building officials along the way," added Brinkley. 

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