At a building dedication ceremony held today to celebrate the completion of the Southface Eco Office, Southface executive director Dennis Creech announced that the Eco Office, which serves as an office, demonstration and training facility, has achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.  It has also qualified for Energy Star and EarthCraft Light Commercial certifications.

“The Eco Office demonstrates that small commercial buildings can be green and achieve high performance standards at a reasonable cost. Our design and construction teams have exceeded our goals for the Eco Office, making it one of the greenest commercial buildings in the world,” Creech said. “We want everyone from the architectural, engineering, construction and development communities to attend our workshops and training events so that they can see firsthand the myriad off-the-shelf and emerging technologies they can use to design and build high-performance facilities that reduce operating costs.”

Southface will measure the Eco Office’s performance using Lucid Design Group’s Building Dashboard, which provides real-time and historical data on the facility’s resource use. The 10,100-square foot building also utilized many strategies and products to achieve energy efficiency, including

  • Situating the building for maximum daylight and exterior shading controls;
  • Electrochromic glazing on windows, which uses a low-voltage current to make clear glass opaque;
  • A green roof to reduce heat island effect, stormwater runoff and air conditioning demand;
  • Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) with an evaporative cooler, energy recovery ventilator and liquid desiccant system. The DOAS processes about 8 tons of cooling during peak summer conditions at roughly half the cost of conventional air conditioning;
  • Captured rainwater is used to save energy by cooling the air-source heat pump condensing units and solar electric system. Each kilowatt-hour of electricity saved saves approximately 1 gallon of water from being evaporated at a power plant.
  • A storm water management system is comprised of a 1,750-gallon cistern, which collects rainwater from the PV canopy, and a 14,500-gallon underground cistern, which collects storm water from the green roof and the overall Southface site. The collected non-potable water is then used for toilet flushing and minimal rooftop irrigation. If the larger cistern overflows, a weir diverts the storm water to the municipal system.  The roof’s drought-resistant sedum plants and native wildflowers manage storm water runoff by filtering and diverting water to the underground cistern, and pervious paving throughout the Southface site also reduces storm water runoff and groundwater recharge.

Creech also cited the efforts of the Eco Office architecture firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent and of the unique consortium of commercial general contractors who came together to build the structure. DPR, Hardin, Holder, R.J. Griffin, Skanska, and Winter – all normally competitors in the Atlanta market has been exemplary, Creech said

Southface is the Southeast’s non-profit leader in the promotion of sustainable homes, workplaces and communities. Driven by the region’s growing need to save energy and water, and to preserve our natural resources, Southface proactively encourages responsible solutions for environmental living through its research, advocacy, training programs and technical assistance. For more information, visit Southface at www.southface.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.