Partnering with Florida for Sustainability: FGBC Board Member Mary Tappouni

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The reason Mary Tappouni and the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) fit so well together is because they share a common mission—being a partner to Florida in sustainable construction.

The veteran Jacksonville contractor, longtime green builder and green building consultant became a new FGBC board member a few months ago.

FGBC provides Florida-specific green building certifications that include guidance on dealing with Florida pests, climate and extreme weather, along with internationally accepted sustainability practices.


“I like that they are Florida-specific, because there are a lot of things in Florida that are unique to us,” said Tappouni, owner of Breaking Ground Contracting.

Also, FGBC guidance is very accessible to green builders.

“You can actually talk to the people who are reviewing your project about what your intent is,” she said. “With other rating systems, you don’t always get that personal interaction. FGBC provides a person who is trying to help them meet their goals and achieve something special.”

Sustainability is something coastal homeowners want more of these days, said Tappouni. Severe weather, like hurricanes Matthew and Irma or the recent storm events in the Northeast, have made people more aware of the need for resilient construction.

North Florida has come around to green building in recent years. Tappouni has a longer history of pioneering new territory.

A Tampa native and daughter of a mechanical contractor, Tappouni graduated from the University of North Florida in 1994 with a degree in construction management

When she looked for a job, she found North Florida contractors hired women to fill administrative roles, not operational ones. She started her own company.

From the start she wanted to be known—not as Jacksonville’s best women-owned business—but simply as the best. Breaking Ground won a broad range of commercial, institutional and custom residential clients.

After several years establishing her reputation, Tappouni began looking for a way to differentiate.
She chose green building, a focus that aligned with her personal passion. But even among green builders, Breaking Ground is different. It’s the company with a green roof.

Early on Tappouni made education part of the company’s “green” business plan, offering training to businesses and consumers who want to learn more about green practices.

She also remodeled her corporate office into a learning lab to show students what green construction looks like. The green features include solar panels, and a 1,200 square-foot rooftop garden, which became the company’s calling card.

Teaching customers about green sometimes means helping them to pursue an FGBC certification. But whether pursuing certification or not, FGBC adds a powerful tool to a contractor’s arsenal.

“Clients may already be incorporating green building techniques into their projects without really understanding how that design feature is helping to create a stronger home,” Tappouni said. “The FGBC guidelines enhance that experience, provide environmental and economic benefits and, help explain how these building methods make that home more safe and secure.”

Founded in 2000, the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) is the leading certifier of green projects in Florida. To date it has over 17,100 residential, commercial, high-rise, land developments and local governments participating in its certification programs. FGBC certification programs are the only standards developed with climate specific criteria to address issues caused by Florida’s hot-humid environment, unique topography and natural disasters. FGBC is a nonprofit 501(C)3 Florida corporation dedicated to improving the built environment. Its mission is “to lead and promote sustainability with environmental, economic, and social benefits through regional education and certification programs.” Going Green? In Florida you have a choice. Join Today!