Demand on the rise for 'green' buildings in Florida

During summers when he was a child, architect Bernard Zyscovich wandered the fading Art Deco haunts of Miami Beach barefoot and with a healthy sense of disdain. It wasn't until years later, when tourists and outsiders visited and celebrated his hometown that he began to appreciate what he had.

By then, he had picked architecture as his major in college and was on his way to becoming a champion of urbanism, which promotes compact development where one can work, live and play all in the same area. He quickly became a player in Miami's rise from sleepy beach town to major metropolis.

But even a firm as successful as Zyscovich Architects hasn't been spared by the recession that has clobbered Miami's construction industry. The company has had to cut about 20 percent of its staff, shrinking from more than 120 employees to about 100.

Despite the construction downturn, a ray of hope has seeped through recently at Zyscovich Architects, as one of its projects, Pine Jog Elementary in Palm Beach County, became the first South Florida school to be certified gold by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.

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