By Marie Gilmore

For Kids ‘R’ Kids Valrico and FishHawk owners Ben Fernandes and Keith Balot, choosing to build in Newland’s newest Lithia subdivision was easy. The childcare center is conveniently nestled between Stowers Elementary School and the Mosaic Headquarters.

And, when asked if they could build the new facility with the latest in technology and with the most up-to-date innovations in energy efficiency and environmental concern, the partners agreed, that it would be a great fit for the new FishHawk Ranch subdivision.

What the pair didn’t know was that the State of Florida has strict guidelines for approving LEED certified buildings and require a ton of documentation that construction was done right.

Fortunately due to a great team, and the cooperation of all of its contractors and vendors, it was built to the state’s standards, and after opening in fall of 2011, Kids ‘R’ Kids Circa has officially received its plaque of recognition for its LEED certification.

The Kids ‘R’ Kids LEED certified building is part of the Newland Communities FishHawk Development.

The facility is a 12,500 s.f. building that serves as a learning academy for children ages 6 months to 12 years of age. Kids ‘R’ Kids learning academies are located in 15 states throughout the United States; this is their first facility to achieve a LEED certification.

The building received a LEED Certified designation, under the USGBC (United States Green Building Council). The LEED Green Building Rating System is a 3rd Party certification program that evaluates the environmental performance of the building and provides a validation of compliance. It is broken down into five categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality.

“Two Trails is proud to have worked on this project. Changing the future and putting the occupants of Kids ‘R’ Kids facility first is something that everyone can feel good to be a part of. It is my sincere hope that more facilities that house our youth will follow Kids ‘R’ Kids lead in building to a green standard,” stated Drew Smith, President of Two Trails, one of the nation’s premier Green Building Consulting firms established in 2001.

In addition to Two Trails, Fernandes and Balot would like to thank and acknowledge Janice Miller from Suntrust Bank, Tom Panaseny from Newland Communities, Justin Floyd, General Contractor, and David Vinson and his staff for logistics.

For more information on Kids ‘R’ Kids, visit or call  526-7000.

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Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!