of that lot, and so I’m able to keep the trees and surroundings as natural as possible.”
Ledbetter, 67, says one of his biggest challenges in building was getting people to believe that he knew what he was doing, so he surrounded himself with experienced professionals to learn the ropes of the business and develop the confidence of others. Re-zoning was also a major issue. In fact, Ledbetter had to scrap his original design plan because of conflicts with the community.
“When we started the subdivision, the design had a combination of single-family and multi-family houses, which I thought would have been a very nice contrast, but the neighbors put up a major obstacle to the project because they got the impression that I was going to put Section 8 housing there,” he says. “So, even though the people who sat on the rezoning commission knew it was a good project, I made a decision to abandon that particular design and ended up doing all single-family homes.”
The housing development, called Green Mill, named for the original landowners, gave Ledbetter the experience, contacts, and notoriety he needed to hang out his shingle, and in 1981 he officially launched Sun Space Ltd. Today, the three-employee company has nearly 60 green houses to its credit and between $600,000 and $700,000 in revenue. Ledbetter projects making $2 million to $3 million in 2009.
He says his success in the midst of a deteriorating housing market stems from creating unique homes that are priced to sell. Ranging from $200,000 to $300,000 for a one-acre lot, some homes are outfitted with devices that collect heat from the sun and then store it in the floors to later be released through the home’s interior. Other residences are equipped with systems that circulate water beneath brick floors for a source of heat and rooftop collectors that convert sunlight into electricity. Depending on the amount of energy-efficient equipment used, Ledbetter’s homes can cost as much as $1 million, and despite economic times, he says they do sell.
“There are still people out here looking for houses, but they are not looking for the traditional box. They are looking for something different and especially for something green,” he says.
Ledbetter’s approach to building and his unique designs has captured the attention of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In fact, he is currently in talks with the organization about a $3 million project to build green office parks in flood plane areas using a special arc design he created. Ledbetter also plans to construct senior housing that will utilize his energy efficient techniques while giving residents the opportunity to become co-owners with other seniors.
“I’ve designed it in a way that you can live there with five other people because each person will have their own one-bedroom townhouse or condominium, but it’s all under one roof so you share the expenses of the care giving and have a very clean environment,” he says. “The nice bottom line to green building, whether at home or work,