It doesn’t take long to realize Pine Avenue, the heart and soul of Anna Maria Island, is a special place. The pastel colors of the quaint wooden shops that line the street, palm trees swaying overhead in the warm ocean breeze in the air and crushed seashells underfoot. It’s picture-perfect and filled with seaside charm.
But look below the surface and you find a place filled with purpose. Those buildings? They’re LEED-Certified (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and filled with green tech for energy savings. Inside, shops and boutiques sell recycled, refashioned or vintage goods produced by local artists and craftspeople. Above, solar panels capture and convert the near-constant sunlight into energy.
Even all those crushed seashells underfoot offer environmental benefits; they eliminate concrete “hardscapes,” (a major cause of warming through radiated heat) and prevent water run-off — allowing the town to retain rainfall and recharge its water supply.
All of these environmental enhancements, which have been ongoing for more than 15 years now, have provided another unexpected benefit to Pine Avenue: a sense of pride and identity among its 1,600 or so full-time residents, who have begun referring to their home as “The Greenest Little Main Street in America.”
It may be little (Pine Avenue is only about a half-mile in length), but its efforts continue to grab the attention of the world’s leading experts in sustainability and sustainable tourism. In the process, it’s provided the blueprint for other cities across the nation and continues to set the bar with new innovations.
But Pine Avenue isn’t the only green spot in the Bradenton Area. Other spots on the island and across the mainland feature environmentally friendly destinations for eco-conscious travelers to explore and enjoy.