Interview: Judy Edwards, Riverside Commons

Smile Design CenterJudy and Dr. Chris Edwards of the Smile Design Center are building Brevard County’s very first LEED™ (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Green Building in the private sector. The project will demonstrate the technologies and products that promote the values of green sustainable development and the first certified Green building for Brevard County.

We asked the Edwards to tell us all about the project.
Judy begins, “My husband, Dr. Chris Edwards, is a dentist at Smile Design Center in Viera. His current office is leased and we always had the intention to buy a piece of land and build an office for Smile Design Center. As relative newcomers to Brevard County, we were taken back by the style of commercial development best described as stripping the land clear, erecting a building and planting some palm trees. While we understand the perception that it may be cheaper to build that way, it certainly is not smarter.

“Our interest in the concept of green, sustainable building led us to the Community Greenhouse Foundation. CGF, is committed to raising awareness, educating the public and promoting sustainable building. They have connected us with experts and provided resources in the field of green and sustainable buildings that we probably would not have met otherwise.”

Riverside Commons
Having purchased a five-acre piece of land on Route 1 in Rockledge that is dense with trees, shrubs, and a wetland area, (the wetland is considered to be man-made), the Edwards made a decision to be better stewards of the property.

Judy relates, “To a traditional developer, this piece of property is full of problems; to us it is an extraordinary opportunity.”

“Our involvement with the CGF, combined with our independent research has convinced us that building smart does not necessarily mean that it has to cost more. We intend to improve the land, using smart design and replanting strategies and reduce waste generated in the construction process and during the life of the building. These buildings, constructed to higher energy-efficient standards will also cost less to operate. Building smart means that we will achieve sustainability not only through reduced energy and maintenance costs, but that we will reduce resource usage by increasing efficiency in the building design and through material costs.”

The Edwards have certainly done their homework.

“Indoor air quality is also important to us.” Judy goes on. “Our “Green Building” will maintain a healthier environment for all the occupants and visitors to the building by using low and non-toxic materials, finishes and adhesives. It addresses humidity concerns and provides adequate ventilation of fresh, clean air.”

Green buildings take into consideration the occupants of that space and daily working and living in it.

Why build green, why be the pioneer?
“We are often asked that question. Why are we building the first commercial sustainable green building in Brevard County? Our answer is, why not? Once we did the research, in our minds, there was no other way. Its time is long overdue. Brevard County is a special place. We are well aware that buildings are a major contributor to both environmental and human health problems and we do not want our need for a new office for Smile Design Center to continue that trend. “

After making the decision, how did you take the next step?
The more we learn, the more we know this is the right thing to do. Volumes have been written on the benefits and need for healthier green construction.”

Judy concludes that “Together with CGF we developed our vision and goals for the Riverside Commons project. Our vision is to create a sustainable commercial development project encompassing economic viability with environmental responsibility.”

The “Green” goals for Riverside Commons are:
Create a commercial development that promotes a sense of community.
Develop an Educational Demonstration Project for Brevard County and the State of Florida that showcases Sustainable Building technology and benefits.
Integrate the built and natural environment that promotes health, productivity and a general sense of well being; satisfying aesthetic and human needs.
Utilize passive design strategies with an integrated process to achieve sustainable development and economic feasibility.
To demonstrate to the community and marketplace that this sustainable project is economically feasible and viable as a Return on Investment.

Riverside Commons is in the design phase of development. Under consideration are two buildings totaling approximately 40,000 square feet. Office space is currently available for lease or purchase. “Sustainability and Smart Growth” are what Riverside Commons is all about.

For information on Riverside Commons or Green Building contact Richard Evans, Community Greenhouse Foundation at 786.402.5155 or visit their website at

For information on Smile Design Center contact:Judy Edwards at 321.751.7775 or visit their website at