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Tony Cho: Sustainable real estate makes for sustainable living

April 29, 2015

When I started Metro 1 in 2005, I had a clear goal to incorporate sustainability into the concept. Being a full service real estate organization, I envisioned our brand as a promoter and source for smart and sustainable building. The idea was to explore alternative green options for every real estate dealings and showcase them to the parties involved as we moved through the process.

We launched a green building resource center nearly eight years ago at the Metro 1 headquarters which continues to be a valuable destination to every client who steps through our doors. Our own offices are built to minimize our carbon footprint with recycled materials, energy efficient equipment and through on-going efforts to stay conscious about our daily environmental impact.

Internally, Metro 1’s team is strongly bonded by the core value of sustainability. Every member of our team actively supports and promotes a green way of living both through Metro 1 sponsored activities and in their personal life. The commonality in this regard is a catalyst to creating opportunities such as the lineup of events this week.

Stacey Glassman Mizener, Executive Director of Metro 1 Communities shared at the Arts & Business Council of Miami breakfast workshop on Tuesday April 21st her experience in partnering non-profits with business entities in order to ensure assets and funding for sustainable projects. Her insights were meant to provide a platform for guests in the audience to absorb ideas they could apply to their own endeavors.

She is also directing our most ambitiously philanthropic project to date, the Wynwood GreenHouse. Set to open early 2016, the Wynwood Greenhouse is being designed by Nick Gelpi, Roberto Rovira and Jim Drain as a lush sensory green space combining nature, architecture and the arts. The space is a 14,000-square-foot urban park, featuring sustainable energy solutions, and will serve as a cornerstone in the community offering cultural and educational content. Residents and visitors will enjoy nature, music, art, serene lounges, purified water, and Wi-Fi throughout.

The Wynwood Greenhouse will be a butterfly and bird sanctuary. The landscape planted will include host plants and nectar for these butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to serve as much-needed pollinators in the urban core. The Greenhouse will provide educational maps for adults and children, highlighting the monthly migration patterns and will show the delicate interconnectivity of native plants, insects and birds.

We envision the Greenhouse as the heart and soul of the neighborhood. It is meant to be a gathering cultural epicenter, open to the public and free of charge. We hope the Wynwood Greenhouse will become an international landmark, city icon and offer a green space to serve our diverse population.

Metro 1 Community is the corporate and social responsibility organization entrusted with all Metro 1 philanthropic efforts. One of its main goals is to create the guiding principles for making decisions that positively affect the environment, the community, and its stakeholders. Metro 1 Community spearheads educational efforts and allocates resources—both volunteer hours and financial investments—to make a difference in the communities they serve. The organization aims to make every neighborhood a better place for the people who live, work, play, and learn there.

Metro 1 makes true connections with community organizations, assuming leadership roles, serving as ambassadors and contributing resources. It is actively engaged with a number of community and cultural partners including The New World Symphony, Perez Art Museum Miami, The Miami Rescue Mission, Lotus House, Surfrider Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Yoga Gangsters, Moksha Foundation, Urban Paradise Guild and more.

On the same note, on the evening of April 21st, South Florida’s philanthropic community will come together to learn more about the future of the Wynwood Greenhouse during a private dinner hosted by Metro 1 Community. We hope to raise awareness and funds to make the Wynwood Greenhouse a reality by early 2016.

Furthermore, on Wednesday April 22nd, the international Earth Day, Metro 1 is curating a panel discussion “Planting the Seed” with experts in sustainability which I am honored to moderate. We were able to secure a stellar set of participants including:

  • Nick Gelpi- Architect, Founder of Gelpi Projects, Winner of Wynwood Greenhouse
  • James Jiler- Urban Greenworks, Healing Transformation through Nature
  • Michael Laas- Director of Sustainability for 1 Hotels & Board Member of the Surfrider Foundation
  • Roberto Rovira– Landscape Architect , Winner of the Hispanic Leadership Sustainability Award, Winner of Wynwood Greenhouse
  • Matt Sherman, Founder of Jugo Fresh
  • Joanne Stone, Joanne Stone Design

The discussion will revolve around sustainability, innovation and community, and will celebrate Earth Day with a catalyst conversation about the most effective tried-and-true efforts by leading organizations.

We approach Earth Day as an opportunity to revitalize the conversation about the environment so it propels the community to continuously strive towards the best sustainability behaviors throughout the year, every day, so we can increase our positive impact as a whole.

Tony Cho is President and CEO of Metro 1, Miami’s pioneering urban-minded full-service real estate organization. He is spearheading a week of events to celebrate Earth Day 2015 but his brand was built, 10 years ago, with sustainability as part of its ethos.

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