Virtually Tour the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design: a certified Living Building on Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus

Photo: Rooftop Garden by Gregg Willett

Virtual Tour of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design

We build roads that allow vehicles to move safely, while channeling rainfall “away.” Our impervious developments require more infrastructure to convey stormwater “away.” We tear down buildings and throw them “away.” But there is no “away.” Our built environment burdens communities with externalities, taxpayers with costs, and future generations with impacts of our metastasizing concrete, steel, and debris. This silo mentality results in single-use infrastructure, which is a luxury we can no longer afford. The Living Building Challenge (LBC), the world’s most ambitious and holistic green building achievement, offers a model of how to break free of our habits and construct a regenerative built environment.

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design is a non-departmental 37,000 sq. ft. building on Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus. In March 2021, the building received LBC certification. Meeting all seven LBC performance areas — Place, Water, Energy, Health + Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty — The Kendeda Building is the first LBC-certified building of its scale in the southeastern U.S., where a warm humid climate poses many challenges. The reason why this building exists in Atlanta is to show that if we can open a Living Building in the South, then anyone can construct a Living Building anywhere. This is especially true for Georgia’s southern neighbors!

The following are some key statistics. During construction, the project diverted more waste from the landfill than it sent to the landfill. It kept economic benefits close to home by sourcing at least 50% of products and services from within 1,000 km. A portion of the floor deck incorporated 25,000 linear feet of dismantled movie sets, and was constructed by participants of a workforce development program for economically disadvantaged Atlanta residents. Over a 12-month period, it collected and infiltrated into the ground 15 times the amount needed for operations. Its photovoltaic system supplied 225% of building’s energy needs, far exceeding the 105% LBC requirement.

While impressive, with context these statistics become inspiring by revealing how an integrated approach to design, construction, and operations results in a building that gives back to nature more than it takes, and one that purposefully seeks to improve the health and happiness of both occupants and neighboring communities.

During this 1 hour and 15 minute session, building director Shan Arora will provide a 30 minute immersive, virtual tour of the building. Rather than focusing on the technical pathways to achieve LBC certification, he will discuss the ethos behind the goal. The “why” informs the “how;” it is this mindset-shift that serves as a model for how we can create multi-use infrastructure that results in a regenerative built environment. He will then switch to a 20 minute PowerPoint presentation that provides historical background of their process from start to certification, key lessons learned, and thoughts on how to integrate LBC principles into practice. The remainder of the session will be devoted to questions and answers.

Presentation and Tour Provided by Georgia Tech, via Kendeda Building

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the ethos of the Living Building Challenge.
  2. Summarize how The Kendeda Building satisfied the requirements of the 7 Living Building Challenge performance areas.
  3. Explain the relationship between The Kendeda Building’s various systems (e.g., photovoltaic, water, and landscape), how they satisfy the technical requirements of the Living Building Challenge, and how they advance the ethos that aims to benefit the broader region.
  4. Apply a mindset shift to move the region towards a more regenerative built environment.

This event is approved for the following continuing education credits:

Register Here