HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS — Dr. Anna Marie may be best known as the medical correspondent on The Weather Channel, but she’d actually like to be even better known for her Lake County house.
Located in the town of Altoona in northern Lake County, right on the edge of the beautiful Ocala National Forest, Marie said she’s always happy to talk about her home, which was built in the 1970s, and required an extensive amount of work after she purchased it.
“It needed a lot,” Marie said, adding that’s exactly what she gave it.
That house will be a central topic next month when Marie serves as the keynote speaker for the Third Annual Lake County Green Symposium on Friday, June 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mission Inn Resort & Club, located at 10400 County Road 48 in Howey-in-the-Hills.
Marie, host of the “Your Life With Dr. Anna Marie” nationally syndicated television show, will use the symposium to discuss how she completed a large-scale “greenovation” to her home.
“I always did like educating patients and people in general,” she said. “My mission through this is people might not do everything I did in my home, but I wanted to show people it’s a really good option to keep in mind, whether you’re thinking about the paint on the walls or your insulation. You can take an old home with good bones and do something more with it. It was a typical old Florida house with good bones. Now it’s a high performance, healthy home.”
Along with the keynote speaker, there will be other presenters at the symposium to discuss a variety of topics, including energy conservation, alternative transportation and energy, water consumption policy, the new face of agriculture and sustainability issues.
“This is the third year we’re doing it, and something new this year is we’re teaming up with Volusia County,” said Kelly LaFollette, Lake County’s information outreach director. “Last year, Volusia sent some people over to attend our symposium, and they said ‘Hey, we’d like to do this,’ so they’re helping to coordinate it this year.”
LaFollette added that every county in the state has a lot to learn from this program.
“I think all of Central Florida has the same environmental issues — water conservation, land use issues, that type of thing,” she said.
Marie has combined her medical training and television experience into helping people live a full and healthy life, and that’s part of the reason she now takes advantage of every opportunity to talk about her home. And her pasison isn’t simply because the house is in such a beautiful rural spot, spared from suburban development.
She discovered it while visiting the Ocala National Forest a few years ago.
“I bought this to be a home for my horses,” she said. “It’s kind of a childhood passion come to life. It was a really, really pretty piece of land that really captured my eye. It was surrounded by rolling oaks, much like Kentucky. I bought the house in July, and I didn’t get my horses down here until December, and it was one of those typcial 1970s homes that had a lot of wall to it. I said, ‘Let’s bring this into the 21st century.’ ”
What Marie did was spend nearly a year and a half working on the home, invetsing in the most advanced “green” technologies to improve the indoor air quality, set up a strong dehumidification system, and put in geothermal energy technology.
“It obviously needed to be retrofitted,” she said. “I wanted to make it into the most energy efficient home in Central Florida. I knew I was going to do it. There was a learning curve for myself. I called it a building labratory.
“It took almost a year and three months to really do it project by project,” she added. “Everybody kind of laughed at me.”
ince the work got completed, Marie has seen her utility bills drop in half — not a bad result in these tough economic times.
“We’ll hopefully motivate people and inspire them to look at ways to improve their home,” she said.
She added that when Lake County officials found out about this unique house in their own backyard, “They were so flabbergastered by what they saw, they asked me to speak at this event. We’re actually planning after this upcoming event to do another one on June 25, a living lab workshop for builders to come out to the house and experience what I created.”
The green symposium will also include a display of energy efficient vehicles, and the people who attend will have an opportunity to test-drive them on a closed-course.
The purpose of the symposium is for professionals in varying fields to share ideas about conserving and maximizing natural resources, and the targeted audience includes business entrepreneurs, land-use planners, engineers, architects, civil engineers, solid-waste staff, agriculture and transportation experts, energy block grant officials, organic health professionals, and public health and government officials.
The cost of attending the symposium is $95, which includes a continental breakfast and box lunch. Registration and breakfast begin at 8 a.m.
For reservations at Mission Inn Resort & Club, call 800-874-9053. To register for the symposium, call the Lake County Department of Growth Management at 352-343-9642 or log on to www.lakecountyfl.gov/greensymposium.
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