Ken LaRoe - 2017 Award for Business and the Environment
The ABE recognizes the importance that all businesses play in maintaining and further promoting environmental sustainability, climate literacy and local/regional economic benefits based on environmental values.In particular, the ABE also honors a business or business person for their efforts in promoting the economic assets that are based on our “Sunshine State’s” famous and fragile environment which is indeed unique worldwide.The first ever Award for Business and the Environment, or ABE, goes to Mr. Ken LaRoe.Over his life, Ken has accomplished many environmental achievements, all of which have benefited Mount Dora, our region, and our state.As a graduate of both the Florida State University where he received his Bachelor's Degree and the University of Florida, where he received his Juris Doctorate, Ken has worked hard to promote sustainability for our environment through some of the following accomplishments: Served on Lake County’s Public Land Acquisition Committee (PLAC), made possible through a voter-mandated increase of half a cent to our local sales tax.The funds raised contributed toward the acquisition of important and endangered lands that now are protected and can be enjoyed by all residents and visitors to our area and state. In 2009 Ken founded, and is the CEO, of the First Green Bank, after founding and serving as the CEO of Florida Choice Bank for the previous 10 years. The First Green Bank is one of the first banks in the United States based on environmental values and mission.The Mount Dora location was the first of 6 branches to be built, and today FGB is a state-wide bank with more locations being planned.All FGB buildings have the highest level of LEED certification possible (LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a standard for green building design). This means they used natural resources from the bank’s site in the actual building construction, and the building is run by solar power, utilizes re-cycled and reclaimed water and serves as an example of environmental sustainability for which all new buildings should be required to attain. Prime parking in front of the bank offers charging stations to electric vehicles. Ken also founded the First Green Bank Foundation which has placed great emphasis on our water resources and water quality, the most important building block in sustaining life on earth, and in our area.The Foundation has also participated in acquiring fragile environmental lands in our area for the public domain, with the purchase and gift of a large local tract of land. Ken worked hard to usher through important changes to our State Constitution through the passage of Amendment 4 a pro-solar tax abatement measure approved by 73 percent of Florida voters last August.Its passage will enable businesses and homes to have greater accessibility to solar power and to avoid outdated and polluting fossil fuels.Also, Ken fought hard against Amendment 1, backed by the BIG FOSSIL FUEL ENERGY businesses, and helped defeat this greed driven constitutional amendment which would have hurt the “Sunshine State."It is an honor to offer Ken the first ever ABE, or Award for Business and the Environment.