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Collaboratory Eco-Startup Helps Region Save Time, Money and the Environment

Collaboratory Eco-Startup Helps Region Save Time, Money and the Environment

Collective impact boosts sustainability by conserving significant watts and water

When Jerry Miller began planning the Seaboard Apartments he set his sights on constructing environmentally responsible properties that would conserve water and energy as it also would save residents money on their monthly utility bills.

Miller called on Southwest Florida resident Paul Shahriari to help focus his vision.

Shahriari is the founder and CEO of ecomedes (, a free service that makes it easy for users to access and analyze everything from energy efficient light bulbs and plumbing fixtures, to large-scale building materials and infrastructure systems, to furnishings and fixtures, empowering individuals and building industry professionals to simultaneously save watts, water and money by making eco-friendly decisions.

Paul Shahriari, President & CEO, ecomedes

“It’s crucial that we help educate people that individual decisions can have an enormous collective impact on our region’s environmental sustainability and result in an economic return on investment for those who participate in green-building efforts,” Shahriari said.

The ecomedes website contains the among the largest curated collection of sustainable high-performance products available. Users can search 250 product categories containing some 10,500 commercial and consumer brands that span more than 600,000 products.

Ecomedes is based at Collaboratory, a public-private partnership between the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the City of Fort Myers and the Community Redevelopment Agency that is committed to fostering economic, social and environmental sustainability.

In addition to ecomedes’ searchable database of environmentally responsible products, the website also automatically calculates products’ return on investment (ROI) versus their less-efficient counterparts. Site users can build “what if” ROI scenarios that show the positive impact on both the environment and their bottom lines, whether it’s a corporate performance measure or an everyday household’s budget-savings over time.

Shahriari, who is building on a successful ecopreneurial track record spanning two decades in sustainability best-practices in the real estate, design, construction and manufacturing industries, has worked on green projects with a total value of some $30 billion, including Federal government projects, corporate campuses such as Capital One, major universities including the University of Florida and Duke University and more.

While developing ecomedes, he recognized a host of obstacles people had to overcome to engage and advance environmental sustainability through eco-friendly choices.

First is the complex array of calculations that go into making an economic case for investing a modest additional amount upfront for an environmentally responsible product. Equally important is demonstrating how that investment is recouped, and then saves the user money via reduced operating costs over time.

“Making the economic case is a big driver,” he said. “The notion of, ‘what am I getting in return for my money?’ With consumer products, we’re constantly being told the advantages of why we should purchase. But, until now, when it comes to green building products, we were rarely presented with the ‘why’ we should invest in them from an economic standpoint.”

An increasingly complex undertaking that ecomedes simplifies is automatically tracking and tabulating how users’ purchase decisions contribute to qualifying their projects for an array of green-building certifications such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Shariari noted that this saves users hundreds of hours of documentation work and thousands of dollars that would have otherwise been spent navigating intricate, and frequently changing, certification filing requirements.

The site extends these easy-to-use cost/benefit analysis tools to everyone, from neighborhood homeowners to building industry pros, large-scale building operators, and enterprise-level institutional and governmental organizations.

Additionally, Shahriari will host at Collaboratory working and planning sessions that harness the creativity and energy of a diverse array of community stakeholders including residents, real estate development professionals, and construction and maintenance industry experts to pursue transformative change and advance green-building strategies that help provide solutions to challenges that threaten the environmental health and sustainability of Southwest Florida, from clean water to conserving the collective energy it takes to power the region.

“It all comes back to people, place and purpose,” he said. “That’s the power of Collaboratory, which provides a forum for bringing people together to help create a more sustainable future for the entire region. The future is ours to shape, and it’s about all of us working together to collectively have a huge, positive impact on environmental sustainability.”

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $6.8 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $78.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit

Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Southwest Florida Community Foundation

Our ambition is a more vibrant community that will continually address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties in Southwest Florida. We invite you to join our family and invest in the community with us!