Embracing sustainable construction is an excellent way to deal with climate change and rampant environmental destruction.
Businesses in Georgia have been at the forefront of advancing eco-friendly buildings to combat climate change and other environmental issues. This explains why there are many eco-friendly, sustainable buildings in Georgia.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council’s 2022 data, Georgia ranked sixth nationally for LEED buildings per capita. This is attributed to the many efforts to make the state one of the centers for green building.
Therefore, whether you’re a homeowner looking to learn more about sustainable efforts or an architect looking for eco-friendly building inspiration, Georgia has numerous structures to draw upon.
In this article, I’ve rounded up a list of the top 15 eco-friendly sustainable buildings in Georgia. I’ll discuss what makes each building sustainable so you can use similar approaches in your own project. Keep reading!
1. The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design
The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design is one of the top eco-friendly sustainable buildings in Georgia, built with renewable materials.
The building’s design fosters a restorative and regenerative relationship between humans and the planet.
It was designed to ensure human activities don’t harm the environment negatively, contributing to climate change.
The structure’s most eco-friendly features are its systems that provide net-positive water and energy throughout the year. This building actually produces more energy than it consumes and recycles its wastewater for reuse.
Since it was built with salvaged materials like wood, The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design diverted a lot of waste from landfills, helping conserve the environment.
Moreover, at least 50% of the materials used to build this house were sourced within 621 miles (999 km) of the site. Besides boosting the local economy, this approach minimized carbon emissions due to transporting building materials over long distances.
Finally, the building was screened for hazardous compounds like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These chemicals are known to harm human health and the environment.
2. Georgia World Congress Center
As the world’s fourth-largest convention center, hosting over a million guests annually, Georgia World Congress Center strives to be an industry leader in sustainability.
The center’s management aims to improve the quality of life for Georgians by employing sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in all its activities. It focuses on the following:
- A better environment: Creating a conducive environment through operational impacts in water, energy, food, waste, air quality, and beverages.
- A better community: Collaborating with humanitarian organizations to create a healthy business and society.
- Better leaders: Collaborating with educational institutions to mentor Georgia’s next leaders.
From the above aspects, the facility has attained the following sustainability features:
- Energy and water conservation: Up to 40% in water and energy conservation due to equipment upgrades and leveraging solar energy.
- Food and beverages: The center sources its food sustainably, besides having its honey-producing beehives.
- Waste management: It incorporates composting and donating unused food to residents and organizations.
- Alternative transportation: Instead of using personal vehicles, the center is strategically located to foster the use of trains and buses to minimize emissions.
Based on the above initiatives, Georgia World Congress Center is the world’s largest LEED Gold-certified convention center.
3. Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Located in Atlanta, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is among the most eco-friendly facilities in Georgia.
According to the stadium’s management, they aimed to attain the highest LEED certification points by integrating activities that promote environmental protection.
The 1,900,946-square-foot (176,604-square-meter) stadium attained LEED platinum certification with 88 points in 2017.
Consequently, it became America’s first professional sports stadium to be awarded a LEED platinum certificate.
The stadium’s sustainability features include:
- Energy-efficient lighting: It has 82,500-square-foot (7,665-square-meter) worth of LED lighting to conserve energy.
- Renewable energy sources: 4,000 solar photovoltaic panels generate energy for stadium activities.
- Water management: Its 2,000,000-gallon (7,571,000-liter) onsite stormwater storage system promotes water conservation. Besides, it has a 680,000-gallon (2,574,000-liter) cistern that collects rainwater for land irrigation.
- Alternative transportation: It’s adjacent to three public transit rail stations for efficient movement.
- Waste management: Reducing, recycling, and donating unused food helps minimize waste. It strives to divert at least 90% of all waste from landfills.
Thanks to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s eco-friendly initiatives, it serves as a model for other sporting facilities in Georgia and beyond.
4. Martin Luther King Jr Recreation Center and Aquatic Center
Martin Luther King Jr Recreation Center and Aquatic Center is a LEED Gold-certified facility because it focuses on sustainability.
Atlanta’s 64,000-square-foot (5,900-square-meter) facility is the first to integrate a zero-entry indoor pool for recreation activities.
The center is designed with a glass-enclosed natatorium incorporating an insulated roof with skylights. This feature provides plenty of natural light, lowering the demand for artificial lighting to conserve energy.
Moreover, the enclosed natatorium folds open onto an outdoor plaza, allowing the cool air from outside to fill the facility quickly. Consequently, it cuts down on running an HVAC system, reducing energy consumption.
The best part is that during its construction, the facility was fitted with real-time cloud-based design models to monitor and facilitate critical decisions. These models help conserve energy by providing feedback to the management regarding improvement opportunities.
Other designs that make Martin Luther King Jr Recreation Center and Aquatic Center sustainable include:
- Run-off-reducing features: An extensive run-off management system reduces the water from the building’s roof and underground parking lot to a minimum.
- Low-flow plumbing fixtures: The building is fitted with low-flow plumbing fixtures to minimize water consumption.
- Indoor air filtration systems: The facility uses air filtration systems to enhance indoor air quality.
5. Auburn Avenue Research Library
Located in Atlanta, Auburn Avenue Research Library is among the top eco-friendly sustainable buildings in Georgia due to its use of renewable materials.
The library was initially opened in 1994 with few sustainability features. However, it was remodeled with more eco-friendly features and reopened in 2016.
The renovation aimed to make the building more energy and resource-efficient using eco-conscious materials. The focus was to attain the LEED silver certificate for promoting sustainability.
Here are the library’s new features that make it eco-friendly:
- Location: The library is within a quarter-mile walking distance of bus stops and private bus lines. Consequently, it fosters the use of public transport to conserve fuel and minimize emissions.
- Construction materials: 81% of renovation materials were obtained from the original building and reused, conserving natural resources. Moreover, 45% of the virgin materials used in the renovation came from recycled content.
- Alternative transportation: The library has charging spots for fuel-efficient vehicles and bicycle parking facilities to encourage the use of alternative transportation.
- Waste management: The renovation work incorporated an effective waste management plan that diverted 81 percent of construction and demolition waste from landfills.
Due to the above measures, Auburn Avenue Research Library achieved the required environment-friendly features and was awarded LEED Gold certification in 2017 with 60 points.
6. State Farm Arena
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, State Farm Arena is the home venue for the National Basketball’s Atlanta Hawks.
It was the world’s first live entertainment and sports venue to get LEED platinum certification for zero waste.
Getting a LEED platinum certification for zero waste means diverting over 90 percent of waste from landfills while operating sustainably.
The arena’s journey in diverting waste from landfills commenced in 2019 when it diverted only 10 percent of its fan-generated waste from landfills. However, it improved its performance in 2021 by consistently diverting 90% of its waste from landfills.
State Farm Arena achieved the zero waste milestone by:
- Educating fans to dispose of waste in proper bins.
- Partnering with Novelis to recycle waste.
- Focusing on a circular economy by recycling most materials.
Besides waste management, State Farm Arena has the following eco-conscious features:
- LED lighting: Upgrading LED fixtures resulted in a 41% reduction in energy consumption.
- Updated plumbing: Updating plumbing fixtures with the most efficient options saves over 540,000 gallons (2,044,000 liters) of potable water annually.
- Green housekeeping: Implemented green housekeeping practices like using eco-friendly cleaning agents to protect the water environment and the staff’s health.
- Zero smoking: It adopted a zero-tolerance policy for smoking inside the stadium and its facilities, eliminating second-hand smoke contamination.
7. SunTrust Park
SunTrust Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves, is one of the best eco-friendly sustainable buildings in Georgia.
The 41,000-seat stadium was awarded a LEED Silver certification in 2017 for its energy and other resource conservation measures.
What sets SunTrust Park apart is that it qualified for LEED silver certification 30 months after its opening. Therefore, it’s among the few structures in Georgia built to meet the highest sustainability standards.
SunTrust Park’s design focuses on excellent energy performance, water efficiency, and indoor air quality measures.
That said, the park contains the following sustainability features that made it possible to attain its goals:
- High-efficiency LED lighting: The park integrates efficient LED fixtures throughout its facilities. These fixtures reduce energy consumption significantly because they’re 50% more efficient than their old metal halide counterparts.
- Water reduction fixtures: It uses high-efficiency plumbing fixtures like low-flow urinals and faucets that reduce water use by 42%. Consequently, it saves more water for other activities.
- Efficient HVAC system: SunTrust Park incorporates an efficient HVAC system that reduces the emission of ozone harmful refrigerants to conserve the environment.
- Locally-sourced materials: The park uses locally-sourced materials throughout its ballpark to reduce its environmental impact. By sourcing locally, the park minimizes transportation emissions that would otherwise occur when sourcing materials from afar.
8. College Football Hall of Fame
Located in Atlanta, the College Football Hall of Fame is one of the top eco-friendly sustainable buildings in Georgia due to its location and resource conservation.
The 94,256-square-foot (8,757-square-meter) facility was built in 1951 to immortalize football’s greatest players and coaches.
The hall was renovated with sustainable features and reopened in 2014, a factor that made it possible to attain a LEED silver certification.
The hall’s sustainable attributes include the following:
- Location: It’s in the heart of downtown Atlanta for easy access to eco-friendly transportation like MARTA, bicycles, and the rapid transit system.
- Recycled materials: Recycled metal and wood were used during the hall’s construction to conserve natural resources.
- Excellent thermal performance: The hall’s indoor football field has its roof covered with a fabric material. This material has an 8mm layer of aerogel insulation that reflects heat, keeping the indoors cool without relying on air conditioning.
9. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Based in downtown Atlanta, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a museum that was opened to the public in 2014.
The building was designed by Philip Freelon, an award-winning architect based in Georgia. Philip partnered with Perkins+Will architects chosen through a competitive selection process.
The center has curved walls, representing two cupped hands for human dignity.
The 42,000-square-foot (3,900-square-meter) facility has a green roof crucial for sustainability.
The green roof creates an insulation layer that keeps the indoors cool in summer and warm during winter without relying on the central heating and cooling system.
Moreover, the roof helps minimize the heat island effect, a phenomenon that occurs when buildings are heated by the sun.
10. Ponce City Market
Located in Atlanta, Ponce City Market has some of the best eco-friendly buildings in Georgia.
The market is a backdrop for most of Atlanta’s basketball teams, like Black Crackers and Atlanta Crackers.
The market’s sustainability stems back from its construction. Thousands of materials were recycled and reused in its construction. Consequently, it saved an amount of energy equivalent to 12,501 trips around the equator.
Ponce City Market utilizes the following environmentally friendly approaches:
- Access to alternative transportation like bicycles.
- Native plants to manage stormwater and reduce the heat island effect.
- Low-flow plumbing fixtures to conserve water.
- Rainwater harvesting and storage facilities.
- Energy-efficient LED lights.
- Highly-efficient HVAC systems with variable speed.
11. Len Foote Hike Inn
Nestled in Chattahoochee National Forest, Len Foote Hike Inn is a place to call home away from home due to its immense sustainability approach.
The inn’s first sustainable feature is that it’s only accessible by foot or horseback — no cars. Therefore, it eliminates emissions from using cars and other motor vehicles.
The rustic-modern backcountry inn has large windows that maximize daylighting. Therefore, it reduces the demand for artificial lighting to conserve energy.
Moreover, Len Foote Hike Inn operates above the grid, thanks to its solar photovoltaic array that supplies most of its electricity.
Its solar water heating system also helps reduce the energy demand for hot water.
Finally, it has an adjacent food composting system that minimizes waste generation.
12. Atlanta Financial Center
Based in Atlanta’s Buckhead area, Atlanta Financial Center has an ENERGY STAR rating of 76 for using energy-efficient devices.
The building is 24% more energy efficient, helping it save over $630,000 in energy bills compared to other office buildings in America.
The center is crucial in reducing greenhouse gas to combat climate change by minimizing its electricity consumption.
Moreover, the center’s location in the Buckhead Area allows commuters to use alternative transportation like bicycles and buses.
Atlanta Financial Center’s main effort toward green building is its comprehensive recycling program. The program facilitates the collection of landscape and construction materials for recycling and reuse.
Finally, all its offices have energy-efficient lighting with low mercury content. This reduces energy consumption and toxic compounds, creating a more sustainable environment.
13. Amli Heights Piedmont
Located in Amli Heights Piedmont, Atlanta, Amli Heights Piedmont offers some of the most sustainable rental apartments in Georgia.
Amli Heights Piedmont has a LEED platinum certification due to its focus on sustainable living. It’s also ENERGY STAR-certified for its energy-efficient appliances.
Amli Heights Piedmont integrates the following green building features:
- Solar energy: Some apartments are 100% powered by solar energy.
- Water conservation: The apartments have water-efficient appliances like WaterSense fixtures, adaptive landscaping utilities, and smart irrigation systems. These features help conserve a significant amount of water annually.
- Green mobility: Most AMLI facilities are within walking distance of public transportation and neighboring amenities like markets. The community also has electric car charging stations and bicycle storage facilities to support lower carbon transit.
14. Emory University Hospital Tower
Emory University in Atlanta is known for its strong focus on sustainability.
The university has 34 buildings that meet eco-friendly standards, including the Emory University Hospital Tower.
The tower was awarded a LEED silver certificate due to its focus on healthy, green design.
The 450,000-square-foot (41,800-square-meter) tower meets the highest energy efficiency and air quality standards.
Moreover, it was built with locally-sourced materials, reducing its carbon footprint.
Its other sustainability features include:
- It’s close to markets, shops, and restaurants to encourage occupants to walk instead of driving.
- It’s fitted with low-flow water fixtures to reduce water consumption.
- It uses energy-efficient lighting that saves over 20 percent of energy.
- It’s mercury and lead-free.
15. Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium has some of the most eco-friendly and sustainable buildings in Georgia.
The site has a LEED silver certification for its focus on sustainability and elimination of animal disturbances.
Due to its design and appliances, the aquarium saves 451,034 kWh of energy annually.
All buildings within the aquarium were designed with minimal windows and well-insulated envelopes to enhance indoor comfort naturally.
Furthermore, it uses LED lights to save energy.
The aquarium’s proximity to public transit services like light rail and bus lines encourages people to use public transportation. Consequently, this conserves fuel, reducing carbon emissions.
Final Thoughts On Eco-Friendly Sustainable Buildings in Georgia
These eco-friendly sustainable buildings in Georgia should inspire you to participate in creating a greener and more sustainable environment.
From using sustainable building materials and energy efficiency to access to alternative transportation, these initiatives will reduce the ecological footprint of our cities.
It’s time to take part in eco-friendly building initiatives. We’re the generation that can make a difference by preserving the environment for future generations.