Going green has always been high on Rod Joly's list of priorities. And now he has been rewarded for his efforts.

Rod and Michelle Joly held an open house recently at their home and were presented a Platinum certificate and they received the Water Star award for their efforts in water conservation. Representatives from CHELCO, Okaloosa Gas, the Florida Green Builders Council, and Water Management District attended. They were also presented with a rebate from the gas company.

Joly is a contractor who has built more than 100 homes in South Walton since moving here 17 years ago from Tallahassee. He is with Arbor Homes of Seagrove Development while his wife Michelle works at Davis Properties of Northwest Florida. When building homes, Rod has consistently paid attention to details, recycled when he could, and used appliances with the highest ratings.

So, when the time came for him to build his own home, there was no question about whether it would be "green."

It began with the lot.

Joly and wife Michelle bought a 43 by 80-foot lot on Nature Way in Greenway Park subdivision on 30A in Seagrove. The land is adjacent to state forest property and connects to greenway trails. The development includes 3.5 acres of preserved land.

The lots are intentionally small so there is no need for a lawn.

"The subdivision's developer, Ben Hammett, encourages all who buy into it to build green," said Joly. "But that was fine with us since we've thought green since the 1980s."

Indeed, there is no grass to mow at the Joly's home. But there are plenty of trees, flowers, mulch, and an edible garden surrounding the house, giving it a Garden of Eden look. Many of the trees are fruit bearing (persimmon, fig, lemon), and when the night's dinner calls for herbs, they are just steps away right outside the door.

Visitors to the Joly's 1,825-square-foot home will find no carpet on the floors, only wood that has no organic compounds in the glue.

The paint used on the walls is also low in VOC and the cabinets are rated "green."

The glass-tiled backsplash in the kitchen and the glass windows were purchased from the Re-Store.

All lights are florescent and all appliances are Energy Star rated.

The water heater is an on-demand appliance, and the air conditioning unit has a 20 percent higher rating than is required by the state.

"I have always used recycled materials as much as I could; my whole career, I've always recycled," said Joly. "It's about lowering the footprint. I wanted the green to be a savings both an environmental and a money savings."

Joly said he probably spent $8,000 more by insisting on using the higher energy rated products in his home. However, he sees it as an investment as he will get a 10 percent return within 10 years as the appliances will pay for themselves through savings.

"It costs more up front but you save in the long run. My electricity bill last month was $70; that's a savings of about $100 a month. So, if you live in your house 10 years, you get it back," he explained. "You're not sacrificing but saving."

The Jolys completed and moved into the home in March.