A Living Building Project Journey, Part-18

Lessons Learned from the Female Project Team Leaders

By Alissa Kingsley, RA, LEED AP, and Ramana Koti, BEMP, LEED AP BD+C       October 03, 2019

A Living Building Project Journey, Part-18

There is no shortage of coverage on the lack of gender diversity and representation in the Architecture Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry.

At LAS we recognize that there is a critical need for diversity, collaboration, and inclusion to address the historic under-representation of women, minorities, and marginalized voices in these fields. We are proud of the diversity present not only within our firm, but also in the composition of the project team of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech.

As the Kendeda Building approaches its grand opening, we reflect on the process to this end. The Kendeda Building is the first of its kind at Georgia Tech; it will be the largest Living Building in the Southeast; and it is has been a challenging, yet rewarding experience for the many people that make up the project team.

Given the diverse set of skills and disciplines brought together for this project, we thought it worthwhile to survey team members to see if we could learn lessons that would help guide future work and celebrate their accomplishments.

We sent an informal survey to the female leaders of the Kendeda Building project team that asked them to reflect on their experiences during the project. Clear themes on replicability, collaboration, and personal growth emerged. Here is a select representation of what they had to say.


Lessons for Replicability

“A few of the lessons I’ve learned so far from the project are as follows: 1) Energy efficient HVAC design is not difficult but needs to be very intentional, 2) although radiant floors have a relatively high first cost, they provide heating and cooling efficiently and provide it where it’s needed instead of served from the ceiling, and 3) both the general public and those involved directly in the project are interested, enthusiastic, and encouraged when they know that a net zero building design is possible and is being built right here in Atlanta.”

Beth Ann Hanson
Newcomb & Boyd

”Early consideration of acoustical finishes needs to be coordinated for LBC projects. The sustainable requirements limit some material choices. Thanks in part to the visibility this project brought to the acoustics manufacturing community, there are now more acoustical treatment options that meet the sustainable requirements. While no acoustical criteria are established for LBC projects at this time, there are other sustainable criteria that can be applied based on the type of building function.”

Jessica Clements
Newcomb & Boyd

“If education and outreach is a core tenet of a green building project, it should be written into the contracts of the design and construction teams whenever possible. Shared goals for education/outreach should be discussed and revisited throughout the project. Also recognizing that audiences and messages may change throughout the project, how do we tap into these focuses and not try to do everything all the time (in terms of outreach)? I think we've done a fantastic job spreading the word, but with such a large group coming at the outreach component from many angles, I certainly have some ideas for collaborations like this in the future.”

Drew Cutright
Georgia Tech

“Projects of this nature have a tendency to take on a life of their own – there are so many great stories to tell. That being said, it is very important to help ensure accuracy and consistency in messaging about the project. We are fortunate to have many stakeholders in this project with whom we partner to amplify our messages.”

Rachael Pocklington
Georgia Tech

It takes a village

“It still takes a village to create a Living Building! This team has been such an amazing example of the collaboration, brainpower, and passion necessary to meet the Living Building Challenge.”

Stacy Smedley

“In order to address the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, all parties involved in shaping the built environment need to share the same vision, goals, and outcomes for a project. When that happens, great things can be achieved.”

Margaret Sprug
The Miller Hull Partnership

“Integrated design teamwork, starting from day 1 of the project, is critical for the success of any project, particularly for a Living Building. This process ensures that all voices are heard and considered throughout the process, and that the team is closely coordinated. Most importantly, this process allows for creative problem solving across disciplines.”

Emily McCoy
Andropogon (formerly)

“The success of the this project will be due to the hard work on an enormously large group of people, this project has highlighted the importance of casting a wide net as it relates to staff, student, and faculty engagement.”

Sarah Neville
Georgia Tech

“The success of a project takes into consideration the passions and hopes of the entire team.”

Tracy Fern
Lord Aeck Sargent

Personal Growth

“While I frequently think about how my personal habits impact the environment, this project has allowed me to see how my workplace habits have an impact as well.  It has been a rewarding challenge to think through what resources are actually necessary for me to do my job.”

Jennifer Leavey
Georgia Tech

“It was inspiring to work on a Living Building located in a campus setting.  As the team thought about how to integrate our building into the campus systems, it became easy to envision how the Living Building principles could be applied to other future and existing buildings on the Georgia Tech campus.  It helped me realize the bigger potential of campuses to holistically adopt innovative and sustainable designs.  A single building could be the spark that creates larger change!”

Karina Hershberg
PAE Consulting Engineers

“This project taught me a lot about communication and collaboration. Developing a solution that met the project goals and satisfied the safety intent took cooperation with the Fire Marshal, Tech campus, architects, and mechanical engineers.”

Usha Tyson
Jensen Hughes


“Living Buildings are great incubators for advancing equity as a key piece of the sustainable built environment. We can try out new policies, procedures, systems, and approaches, linking research, education, and action, and hopefully impact broader equity work on campus moving forward.”

Jennifer Hirsch
Georgia Tech

“The most important lessons we have yet to test from the building: how are knowledge and sustainable behaviors by the campus community influenced by a building like this? How does that knowledge and experience shape behavior on the rest of campus and as a part of one’s being? OCS will be using the building as a model to understand how to educate the campus community about sustainable principles and leveraging those lessons to apply to Georgia Tech’s policies, plans, processes, and standards to amplify implementation and impact.”

Anne Rogers
Georgia Tech

Funded through a private grant from The Kendeda Fund, The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech is expected to become a Living Building Challenge 3.1 certified facility – the built environment's most rigorous and ambitious performance standard. The project’s design and build partners include architects Lord Aeck Sargent in collaboration with The Miller Hull Partnership, construction manager Skanska and design team consultants: Newcomb & Boyd, PAE Consulting Engineers, Uzun + Case, Biohabitats, Andropogon, and Long Engineering.


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