The Georgia Institute of Technology is joining other leading Atlanta organizations to participate in the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (Atlanta BBC). The goal of the challenge is to reduce by 20 percent the energy and water usage of existing downtown buildings by 2020, and to inspire others to follow. Twenty buildings in downtown Atlanta are expected to participate in phase one of the initiative.
The Lamar Allen Sustainable Education Building (SEB) will be Georgia Tech’s participant in the Atlanta BBC. Opened in 1998, the 33,000-square-foot structure was one of the first commercial buildings in the U.S. to utilize autoclaved aerated concrete block construction, a lightweight, precast building material that simultaneously provides structure, insulation and fire and mold resistance. The building now serves as a living laboratory for energy efficient education, research and application of sustainable technologies. It houses classrooms, computer labs and offices for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. At 33,000 square feet, its size is typical of 80 percent of commercial buildings in the U.S.
Georgia Tech Facilities’ Energy Conservation Team completed an energy audit on the SEB prior to learning about the Better Buildings Challenge.
“Our original intent was to retro-commission the building to make it more energy efficient,” said Chuck Rhode. vice president for facilities management. “However, participating in the Better Buildings Challenge provides Georgia Tech the opportunity to showcase that retro-commissioning, recommended every five years, typically reduces energy consumption by 15 percent, has an average 8–15 month payback and provides the opportunity to retune a building for the end users’ evolving needs.”
“As a leading research university, it is important that Georgia Tech continues reducing our energy consumption and demonstrating financial stewardship while educating the future leaders of the world about sustainable building practices,” said Amir Rahnamay-Azar, senior vice president of administration and finance.
Georgia Tech has gained a national reputation for embracing and promoting cross-disciplinary sustainability practices on the campus, in the classroom and in the laboratory. For four consecutive years, the Princeton Review has named Georgia Tech to its Green Honor Roll, one of only a handful of universities to receive such recognition. Among many other highlights, Tech has also been designated a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.
The Atlanta BBC is part of the Department of Energy’s Better Building Initiative and is co-sponsored by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Central Atlanta Progress and other leading business and community organizations.