PORT RICHEY — Greencastle of Bayonet Point lives up to its name.
Not only has the apartment complex for low-income seniors received a state award for water conservation, but Greencastle is also in the running for a federal award honoring overall green-living excellence.
Greencastle, an 80-unit, government-subsidized community at 11722 La Madera Blvd., off of State Road 52, was upgraded with conservation in mind, from the 240 solar panels on the roof to carpeting made of recycled material.
This fall, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, also known as Swiftmud, named Greencastle as the first community in Pasco to earn its Florida Water Star award. The four-story building went fully green in 2010 with an environmentally conscious irrigation system, dual flush toilets, low-flow showerheads, automatic faucets and high-efficiency washing machines. The measures cut Greencastle's annual water use by 1.3 million gallons.
The complex cut its monthly water bill by more than 50 percent, from $1,791 to an average of $877. It's the model of what Swiftmud would like to see from all developers, said agency spokeswoman Robin Grantham.
"They have really done an amazing job," she said.
Not only is Greencastle doing well on the water front but it's also rating well in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Battle of the Buildings contest, a yearlong effort in which buildings compete to make the most energy-saving improvements. Out of the 230 buildings competing across the country in the multifamily category, Greencastle ranked eighth at the midpoint of the competition. The winner will be announced in April.
Greencastle is scoring well, in large part, because of its solar panels. The roof has been transformed into an energy-making machine with solar energy powering everything from the lights to making hot water.
The building also has 167 double-pane hurricane-proof windows, energy-efficient light bulbs and sensor lighting that only turns on when someone enters a room or hallway.
It has brought down the building's average monthly power bill down from $1,500 to $868.
"The power company doesn't like us very much," said Greencastle manager Kathleen Casagrande, laughing.
The best thing for Casagrande is that the facility's residents love the idea of taking part in the conservation.
"Our residents are a generation that grew up frugally and recycled everything. So they love it," she said.
Resident Grace Jennings, 87, moved into the facility six months ago from West Virginia to be closer to local family.
"It's a great place to live. It's warm if you want it to be. It's cold if you want it to be," she said.
For Mary Devine, 84, it has meant less noise from power generators, too.
"I can open the windows now," said Devine, who has lived there seven years.