A transformational building on the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta designed by architects Lord Aeck Sargent and The Miller Hull Partnership has earned the Living Building Challenge certification from the Seattle-based International Living Future Institute.

Considered the world’s most ambitious and holistic green building achievement, the certification independently verifies the building as among the greenest in the world.

The Kendeda Building is a regenerative building, designed and built on the broad guiding principle that it will generate more on-site electricity than it consumes and collect and harvest more water than it uses. To earn the Living Building Challenge 3.1 certification, the project, which was dedicated in October 2019, went through a 12-month assessment to prove its bona fides as a net-positive building for energy and water.

The 4,366sqm building accommodates two 64-person classrooms, two 24-person class labs, two 16-person class labs, a 16-person conference room, makerspace, 176-person auditorium, rooftop apiary and pollinator garden, and an office space for co-located programs.

Following the year-long assessment, The Kendeda Building met all seven Petals in the Living Building Challenge — Place, Water, Energy, Health + Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty, making it the first Living Building Challenge-certified building of its scale in southeast USA.

In spite of the challenging warm and humid climate, the building generated 225% of the energy needed to power all of its electrical systems, thanks to the massive solar canopy on the roof. The 330-kilowatt photovoltaic canopy additionally shades the building and collects rainwater, which is stored in a 50,000-gallon cistern in the basement before being treated and used for sinks, showers and even drinking. The building collected, treated and infiltrated 15 times the amount of water needed for operations.

The Kendeda Building project also eliminated 99% of construction waste and incorporated reclaimed, locally sourced materials, thereby diverting more waste from the landfill than it sent. Building materials used in the project were screened to ensure the absence of hazardous ‘Red List’ chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA), halogenated flame retardants, phthalates, and formaldehyde. Wood from sustainably managed forests, salvaged materials, and other sourcing strategies significantly reduced the building’s embodied carbon emissions. Additionally, the building incorporates composting toilets to nearly eliminate potable water use for the purpose and allow for human waste to be turned into fertiliser for use offsite.

Georgia Tech president Ángel Cabrera says, “This building — which is a tribute to the power of human ingenuity to find new solutions to our greatest challenges — aligns with our longstanding vision for our campus to serve as a laboratory for innovation to inspire and develop tomorrow’s leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition.”

Image: The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design features a large ‘front porch’ shaded by some of the hundreds of solar panels that generate electricity for the building. Photo: Justin Chan Photography | Source: Georgia Tech