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July 6, 2005

Southface Energy Institute Breaks Ground on Landmark Commercial Green Building Project

Southface Eco Office, a model for environmentally responsible commercial construction, is result of a unique collaboration tracking LEED platinum-level rating

ATLANTA, July 6, 2005 – Ground was broken today on a landmark green building project that is on track to earn the Southeast’s first LEED®1 Platinum-level rating for New Construction from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).2 The Southface Eco Office is the result of a unique collaboration among non-profit organization Southface Energy Institute, the owner; Lord, Aeck & Sargent, the architect; Eco Office Contractors: A Green Building Consortium (of five builders, see p. 4); and many others who have donated their services and dollars, as well as green building products and technologies that will be used in the Eco Office.

When the first phase of the Southface Eco Office is completed in Spring 2006, the three- story structure, approximately 10,000 square feet, will serve as a model of environmentally responsible commercial construction and will demonstrate that green commercial building creates a healthy and productive workplace with reduced operating costs. The Eco office will showcase innovative ideas for saving energy and water, reducing waste, re-using and recycling materials, and maintaining a healthy indoor environment.

“When completed, the Eco Office will be one of the greenest commercial buildings in the world,” said Dennis Creech, executive director of Southface, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable homes, workplaces and communities.

“The building will feature off-the-shelf products and technologies and will give Southface a demonstration facility and a stellar teaching tool to increase by 50 percent our ability to educate the commercial building industry in ‘green building’ techniques,” Creech continued. “We’re grateful to Lord, Aeck & Sargent and Eco Office Contractors for the unique collaborative role they’ve played in setting a benchmark for teamwork that makes a difference.”

“Lord, Aeck & Sargent has a longstanding commitment to sustainable design, from environmentally responsible site use, to use of daylighting as a design element as well as innovative uses of materials,” said Joe Greco, AIA, a LEED Accredited Professional and the firm’s principal in charge of the Eco Office project. “Our partnership with Southface has cemented this commitment and given us the opportunity to investigate sustainable design strategies sometimes well beyond the mainstream. The result will be a world-class facility that showcases the readily-achievable benefits building owners and occupants can enjoy through harnessing an integrated design approach along with available technologies and products to create an optimized, resource-efficient facility.”

“The Eco Office will literally harvest energy from the sun, filter its storm water, collect rainwater for building use, and treat its own sewage, using only a fraction of the resources of a conventional facility,” said Jim Nicolow, AIA, a LEED Accredited Professional who leads Lord, Aeck & Sargent’s sustainable design efforts. “The building was sited and the windows oriented to make use of readily available daylight, minimizing artificial lighting requirements and the associated cooling loads. Our overall goal is to exceed the energy code by 60 percent.”

Sustainable Design Features

Nicolow noted that one of the unique features of Eco Office is a canopy of semi- transparent photovoltaic panels that were destined for a landfill prior to being rescued by Southface staff. The panels will generate electricity from the sun while providing shade for an observation deck that overlooks an extensive vegetated roof and innovative mechanical system. The green roof will filter storm water and reduce the urban heat island effect. In addition, no potable water will be used to flush toilets. The Eco Office will use a combination of foam-flush composting toilets and dual-flush toilets that will be supplied by harvested rainwater to reduce water consumption dramatically. The facility will be fully daylit and have automated daylight harvesting controls.

The Eco Office also will feature:

  • An optimized facade featuring Insulated Concrete Foam walls, low-e insulated glazing= with operable windows, and external, operable sun control devices
  • Natural stormwater management, including porous concrete paving, bioswales, green roof, and rain garden areas
  • A high-efficiency dedicated outdoor air ventilation system with heat recovery fabric ducts and an advanced control system
  • Access flooring with displacement ventilation and individual occupant controls in a flexible open office area
  • Many recycled content, low VOC, and rapidly renewable finishes throughout the facility

“This project has provided the design team with a great opportunity to get to know and collaborate with other ‘green’ experts in the field; the exchange of information and ideas has been fantastic,” Nicolow said. “We’re all learning a great deal that we’ll take with us to future projects while at the same time creating a project that will influence the marketplace.”

When completed, the Eco Office, which is adjacent to Southface’s existing facility, will provide much needed office space to support the organization’s growing staff and programs as well as providing meeting and training spaces for the Metro Atlanta design, construction, and development communities in a living sustainable design laboratory. In addition, the district office of the Urban Land Institute will share office space in the new Eco Office, helping Southface with its outreach to developers.

The Design and Construction Team

  • Southface, Atlanta – owner
  • Lord, Aeck & Sargent, Atlanta – architect
  • KEEN Engineering, San Francisco – MEP/FP design engineer
  • KSi Structural Engineers, Atlanta – structural engineer
  • McKenney’s, Atlanta – mechanical design assist and installation contractor
  • Eberly & Associates, Atlanta – civil engineer
  • ECOS Environmental Design, Atlanta – landscape architect
  • ENSAR Group, Boulder, Colo. – daylighting consultant
  • Working Buildings, Atlanta – commissioning agent
  • Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, Atlanta – owner’s architectural representative
  • Eco Office Contractors: A Green Building Consortium – builders:
    • DPR Construction, Atlanta
    • Hardin Construction, Atlanta (also serves as construction manager)
    • Holder Construction, Atlanta
    • Skanska USA Building, Atlanta
    • The Winter Construction Company, Atlanta

About Southface

Since 1978, Southface has encouraged responsible solutions for environmental living. Driven by the Southeast’s growing need to save energy and water and preserve our natural resources, Southface has successfully fostered unique partnerships with public, private and nonprofit organizations. Southface programs and publications reach design and construction professionals, homeowners, government officials and others to promote sustainable homes, workplaces and communities through education, research, advocacy and technical assistance. For more information, visit Southface at

About Lord, Aeck & Sargent

Founded in 1942, Lord, Aeck & Sargent is an award-winning architectural firm serving clients in scientific, academic, historic preservation, arts and cultural, and multi-family housing and mixed- use markets. The firm’s core values are responsive design, technological expertise and exceptional service. In 2003, The Construction Specifications Institute awarded Lord, Aeck & Sargent its Environmental Sensitivity Award for showing exceptional devotion to the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly materials, and for striving to create functional, sensitive and healthy buildings for clients. Lord, Aeck & Sargent is headquartered in Atlanta and also has offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more information, visit the firm at


1The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Members of the U.S. Green Building Council representing all segments of the building industry developed LEED and continue to contribute to its evolution.

2The U.S. Green Building Council is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.