Innovation That Matters

A giant photovoltaic canopy tops the Kendeda Building in Atlanta | Photo source Georgia Tech / Tzu Chen

Resource-generating building sets sustainability standards

Architecture & Design

Located at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, the newly-built Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design is one of the world’s most ambitious green buildings


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Spotted: Termed a ‘living building’, the Kendeda has not settled for just being more green than other buildings. Instead, it is regenerative – generating more energy than it uses.  

The building was designed and constructed by US firm, Miller Hull Partnership, in collaboration with local Atlanta firm, Lord Aeck Sargent. The building will be used as classroom space, but a number of areas, such as the lecture hall, roof garden and atrium, will also be made available for community events. Georgia Tech’s mission in developing the building is to expose as many people as possible to the project’s ideals of resiliency and sustainability. 

The building includes a “Regenerative Porch” which creates a cool micro-climate and blurs the interior and exterior. The porch is covered in a photovoltaic canopy which generates around 200 per cent of the building’s energy demand. Over the course of a year, it also collects around 15 times the amount of water needed for operations. This is treated and used for drinking fountains, sinks and showers. The greywater generated is then pumped to a wetland at the building’s main entrance.  

Construction is entirely in mass timber, selected for its small carbon footprint, while construction methods were chosen to reduce the quantity of wood required. Furniture, decking and other features were built from salvaged wood and off-cuts. Steve Swant, Georgia Tech executive vice president has described the building as “unlike any other project we have embarked upon … It is more than an opportunity to create a one-of-a kind net positive facility in the Southeast. It is also an opportunity to learn how to leverage and integrate all of our resources to educate others.” 

Over the last few years, we have seen a tremendous growth in the use of sustainable building techniques, and these techniques have become more ambitious every year. Some recent innovations have included a Danish school designed for flexible use and to the highest standards of sustainability, and an entire town designed to be car-free and which incorporates community farms and a forest corridor. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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