NOTE: Hover over yellow hot spot to see callout.

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The Living Building is like any living organism, and it must use its resources wisely. Led by Dr. Michael Chang of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, and Dr. Dana Hartley of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, this pilot project for The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design was tasked to create an innovative building dashboard system for The Kendeda Building – one that allows building occupants and managers to know in real-time how the building is managing and utilizing its resources.

Ten Georgia Tech undergraduates were selected as the inaugural (2017-2018) class of Sustainable Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF). The undergraduates represent all six colleges at Georgia Tech, and were selected from a group of 88 applicants. After being selected, the team was quick to get to work.

A New Direction

A challenge to think differently is a hallmark of The Kendeda Building, and the students rose to the occasion. The SURF team’s first decision was to break out of the confines of “the screen” as the medium for communicating information and knowledge about the fitness and function of the building. The students considered many different ways to convey information and to immerse visitors in the “Living Building experience.” Among the methods the group discussed included using ambient lighting, sound or color to convey if the building was “happy” or “sad.” Another idea required users to complete an action or participate in a game in order to receive a reward (like energy to power their phones or laptops, or to get a free coffee). The brainstorming time was productive, and the students were left with many ideas to work through.

Having arrived at so many ideas, the SURF team had to pause and develop a set of values by which they could evaluate their ideas. They settled on four values that any system they ultimately produced should adhere to:

  1. It should be sustainable
  2. It should be inclusive of the whole Living Building community
  3. It should be educational (and not just entertaining),
  4. It should accurately report and represent the underlying data/phenomena.

The team was also challenged to develop an overarching theme or narrative that would unite all their selected concepts to provide an overall story or context about their work.

Continued Progress

Members of the initial team are continuing to work on the project. One next step includes the development of communications materials (primarily short videos) that help explain who they are and what they are trying to accomplish. Students are also obtaining building data from other buildings that can be used to begin developing a virtual prototype of one or more of their concepts. Finally, the students are proposing a way to capture data directly at the Living Building construction site about the geographic origin of workers, visitors, and materials that come or are brought to the site.

Resources:

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design is not being built in a vacuum. It is being built with the intention of being a resource for the entire Southeast which necessitated feedback from the community even in the design phase. One way to collect feedback is through crowdsourcing methods. But how do you crowdsource information for a building that has not yet been constructed?

Dr. John E. Taylor, the Frederick Law Olmstead Professor of the Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and his dynamic research team were charged with creating interactive virtual and augmented reality viewers to collect user information for the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design.

Creating an experience for a building not yet built

Dr. Taylor and the team quickly identified that there was not necessarily a one-size-fits-all virtual reality platform for crowdsourcing. In response to this observation, they created three different iterations of crowdsourcing platforms. Each of the platforms had their own benefits and challenges.

The three viewers were:

  1. The augmented reality viewer is tied to the user’s GPS location, and places users in the building if they are at the building site. Using an iPad or iPhone, users walking around the site see the building superimposed over the camera’s view as if they are walking through the building. When the building was in the pre-construction stage and still a colorful parking lot, this was an engaging way to interact with the building. Now that the building is under construction, access to the site is more restricted­–making the augmented reality viewer difficult to deploy to collect user feedback. As users shared feedback about a particular area they could tie their comments to a specific location and identify what Living Building standard petal to which their feedback pertains.
  2. A 360-degree viewer allows users to experience 360-degree views of the building and its surroundings from a set of pre-defined locations on the site using a mobile device. Like in the augmented reality viewer, as users share feedback about a particular area, they can tie their comments to a specific location and identify the petal to which their feedback pertains.
  3. A full immersion virtual reality viewer enables users to experience and walk through the building and the site surrounding the building before it is built with no limitations imposed by construction on the actual site nor limitations on what parts of the building or site they may visit. Participants can even experience the building in different weather conditions, and the full immersion experience gives people the opportunity to interact with the building before it is built. The full immersion program requires a VR headset to engage with the building in this way.

 

A Popular Response to Finding a Meaningful Experience

As mentioned above, one of the early obstacles overcome by Dr. Taylor and his research team was the realization that there was not one virtual reality platform that optimally meets every feedback requirement. This suite of virtual reality experiences allowed for project stakeholders to collect even more community information and feedback. As the purpose of the reality viewers is to capture community feedback, it is beneficial to tailor the viewer to the specific type of feedback desired to help ensure a meaningful user experience. The system also collects demographic information from the users. This is an important feature as the Living Building team works to ensure that diverse feedback is collected and everyone’s voice is heard—and, if feedback is implemented, design changes are equitable for all.

An additional challenge encountered by Dr. Taylor and the team has been the extremely positive reaction from the community! He and his team have been very busy trying to fulfill the various request to present their technology to individuals and groups across campus and the greater Atlanta community.

Next steps for the project include developing methods to analyze the data, analyzing the data and experiential information collected thus far, and then publishing what they have learned about the best platforms to crowdsource design feedback.

Resources:

 

Of the seven petals of the Living Building Challenge, the fulfillment of the equity petal is achieved by the demonstration that the building supports a just and equitable world. The equity petal defines this as “a society that embraces all sectors of humanity and allows the dignity of equal access and fair treatment is a civilization in the best position to make decisions that protect and restore the natural environment that sustains all of us.” To bring a student voice and perspective to this petal challenge, a diverse mix of undergraduate and graduate students from disciplines across the campus were selected to form the Living Building Equity Champions (LBECs). This group was charged with fully engaging in the development and realization of the Equity Petal of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design. This group was led by Georgia Tech Institute Diversity’s Keona Lewis, program review and research manager, and Atira Rochester, corporate relations manager and supported by the Academic and Research Council and Serve-Learn-Sustain.  

The LBECs were exposed to relevant experiences and brought an invaluable perspective to the table. They attended numerous discussions and opportunities to expand their understanding of and exposure to the Atlanta community. They took the opportunity to represent at targeted-minority events and gain exposure to groups who are not well represented at Georgia Tech. From these experiences, the LBECs were able to bring a more comprehensive perspective to equity discussions. The champions could speak for and represent groups not typically represented.

Experiences of a LBEC

Challenges presented to LBECs included:

  • Providing input and feedback to the design and development of The Kendeda Building.
  • Engaging current students in the Kendeda Building’s equity, sustainability, and diversity efforts.
  • Connecting The Kendeda Building with the greater Atlanta community, particularly K-12 students.

The group quickly found that compared to the other petals, it was often difficult to generate conversation and initiate efforts around the equity petal. Pushing past this challenge meant the champions had to work to ensure their voices were heard just as loudly as those discussing The Kendeda Building’s water or energy usage. The experiences of the LBECs also generated conversations with tough questions and tough answers. These real answers have been powerful in both explaining and working towards a more equitable building and Georgia Tech.

The diverse group of LBECs were challenged to continually expand their perspective and to engage with the equity petal at a deeper level. This group pushed The Kendeda Building team to realize how important it was to have student’s voices in the conversation. An element of inequity realized by this group is when individuals come to meetings unaware, or not knowledgeable about the discussion. Champions had to be taught the information to be able to be active participants in the conversation.

What the Champions Realized

The champions are influencing The Kendeda building for the better by positively impacting our conversations about the equity petal of The Living Building Challenge. The champion’s presence and efforts highlights the importance an individual’s presence can make and that a student’s time in college is a very individualized experience. This individual experience can cause students to inadvertently be unaware of unequitable conditions at Tech and in the community. Equity is an issue that pertains to every individual, and greater awareness can spark positive change.

While the LBECs are influencing the design team for the better, they too are benefiting from the experience. Their understanding of equity has been elevated to a higher and more empowering level. And the team has come to truly appreciate the importance of having a seat at the table and being an informed voice in a sea of voices. The Kendeda Building is going to be an actual building that can help facilitate crucial conversations about important issues.

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design will have an impact far greater than the Georgia Tech community—it is meant to transform the entire Southeastern United States. One way to impact our region, and in particular our state, is to engage with K-12 schools. These students are the next generation of thinkers and doers who will one day be responsible for upholding the principles of the Living Building Challenge. Georgia Tech's Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) Sabrina Grossman, program director in Science Education, and Mike Helms, CEISMC research scientist worked with Amanda Reding, a participant in the GIFT Program, to create an outreach curriculum pertaining to The Kendeda Building. This curriculum connects the State of Georgia’s teaching standards directly with biologically inspired elements of the Living Building Challenge to help guide students’ understanding of how nature and science can help solve the many challenges of achieving Living Building Challenge certification. By embedding the lessons into the state’s required teaching standards, this curriculum provides an easily accessible path for students across Georgia to “visit” the building without ever leaving their classroom.

Overcoming Obstacles
Elementary, middle, and high school teachers are faced with rigorous state mandated grade-level teaching requirements that they have to fulfill on an expedited time-table. This requirement makes it a challenge for educators to adopt a special lesson plan unless it directly connects with their mandated teaching requirements. Knowing this, Sabrina, Mike, and Amanda sifted through the volume of content pertaining to the Living Building Challenge and found connections to the state curriculum mandates.  The connections forged between the Kendeda Living Building challenge requirements and state requirements demonstrated the presence of the inherent biology and nature within The Kendeda Building.

Making The Kendeda Building Accessible to Students
One petal of the Living Building Challenge is equity, and included within equity is accessibility– or rather the ability for all to engage with and enjoy the building. The Kendeda Building is not only meant for Georgia Tech, but for the entire Southeast. The classroom content produced by CEISMC, in keeping aligned with the equity petal accessibility requirement, needed to be available to students across the state of Georgia. The lesson plans and materials will be free of charge to any teacher, and accessible through the internet. Additionally, John Thornton, Academic Professional and Coordinator of the Video Production Lab in the College of Ivan Allen, is creating video content that will feature the building and provide an additional element of being able to “visit” the building from afar. Another tool being designed with the School of Industrial and System Engineering are cards that demonstrate the biologically-inspired building blocks of the building. These cards will be an additional visualization tool to engage students.

The first iteration of the curriculum “Animals in Action” –originally written for the 7th grade – is currently being tested with plans to scale the curriculum for 6th and 8th grade students. Eventually all grades from kindergarten through 12th grade will have a one-week long science lesson plan that directly connects grade level curriculum to the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design.

Because these materials are available for teachers state-wide, students in rural Georgia who may never have the opportunity to travel to Atlanta will still be able to “visit” and engage with the Kendeda building!  

November 2 marked the beginning of the construction phase of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design. Formerly referred to as the Living Building at Georgia Tech, the project is on track to become the first Living Building Challenge 3.1-certified facility of its size and function in the Southeast.

The building launch took place at the northwest corner of Ferst Drive and State Street and featured representatives from Georgia Tech and The Kendeda Fund, the project’s philanthropic donor. Play video.

Auditorium

The educational opportunities are not limited to the classrooms and makerspace. As part of its mission to serve as a public forum for educational activities, The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design also features an auditorium that will seat 170 persons.

As with other programmable areas in The Kendeda Building, the auditorium will support flexible use of space. The structural system will consist of mixture of wood, concrete and steel. Wood is a preferred material due to its aesthetics, low carbon footprint, and regional availability — all of which are important variables to Living Building Challenge certification. While steel and concrete won’t be eliminated entirely, these materials will only be used strategically where needed for structural support.

The design team has also taken great strides to incorporate salvaged materials (including granite, slate, and wood) from recent construction projects on campus.

Offices

Offices on the first floor support the academic and research activities conducted in The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design. In addition to a building manager and administrative support, the building will also house the faculty teaching in the building during the semester. Courses taught in the Living Building will be alternated throughout the academic year to maximize exposure to the student community. As temporary occupants of the building, faculty will reserve their office space on an as needed-bases. This “hoteling” concept has become popular in the past two decades as a means to accommodate the ever-increasingly dynamic and mobile workforce.

The office space configuration will incorporate an open floor plan to support flexible use of space. As with the lobby and outdoor programmable area, seating will consist of a mix of fixed and movable furniture to enable the occupants to maximize the use of space. 

Makerspace

Makerspaces are becoming increasingly popular on Georgia Tech’s campus as students receive hands-on experiential learning opportunities to build and test the concepts they have designed in the classroom. Notably, Georgia Tech’s student-run Invention Studio dates back to 2009 when a group of Capstone Design students gathered to run a facility and provide prototyping instruction to other students in exchange for 24-hour access to the facility. Today, this 4,500 square foot makerspace is open to students, faculty and staff across campus and houses more than $1 million in tools and equipment.

To accommodate the demand, other makerspace concepts are springing up on campus. The Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering (AE) Aero Maker Space  opened in late 2016 and houses laser-cutters and 3D printers for AE students. 

 
Class Labs

Much like the classrooms, the 24-person class labs are designed to foster active learning by using The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design as a teaching tool. Due to the requirement for the building to be net-positive energy, power operated equipment will be very limited. Proposed programs are being developed to support the goals and learning outcomes of the Living Building Challenge.

The class labs will be located on the first and second floors and can be accessed via the central collaborative commons space.

Classrooms

Designed to function as a true living, learning laboratory, The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design will help educate and transform future generations of thinkers and doers to not only create a more sustainable environment, but one that actually gives back and improves the environment. The Kendeda Building will feature two 75-person classrooms to provide hands-on educational and learning opportunities. Classrooms will be located on the second floor and can be accessed via the centrally located collaborative commons space. ­­­­­

As of fall 2017, several multidisciplinary curriculum proposals from across campus are being evaluated. Many of these classes will also leverage the instructional laboratories and makerspace located in The Kendeda Building. The flexible, open space will enable students and faculty to engage in problem based learning exercises that will explore and teach the principles of sustainability.   

Porch

No southern dwelling would be complete without its porch, and The Kendeda Building for Sustainable Design is no exception. Shaded by the PV canopy above, the porch of the building bridges the physical building to the surrounding landscape – eventually connecting and integrating with the proposed campus eco-commons.  

The porch also serves as a point of entry to the building, accessible by all through several entry points.

The porch houses several functional systems designed specifically to assist in the management of stormwater. Following the natural moderate slope from north to south, the porch terraces, or steps down, at appropriate elevations. This geometry accommodates cascading porch areas that support substantial volume storage underneath the permeable pavers. Unlike a traditional stormwater management approach that concentrates water storage in a single area, this method of managing rainwater relies upon dispersed locations along the sloped site in order to leverage gravity to assist in controlling the flow of water. 

Edible Landscape

The landscape surrounding The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design must navigate competing performance demands for rain water management, passive building cooling, tree protection, healthy ecology, and urban agriculture, while providing adequate space for human occupancy and year-round seasonal character.

Given The Kendeda Building’s anticipated building density or floor-to-area-ratio (FAR), 20 percent of the project area, or approximately 12,600 square feet, will be dedicated to fostering a healthy, accessible food system.

The bulk of the urban agriculture area requirement will be met with a 5,350 square foot shade-to-partial shade edible ground landscape. Trees, shrubs, and groundcovers that produce edibles, accompanied by informative signage, will encourage students, staff, and visitors to pick and eat tree fruit and berries year-round. This landscape will also work seamlessly with the landscape’s adjacent, proposed mesic woodland and seepage wetland zones to manage stormwater runoff from the site’s pavement. Additionally, this type of production requires far less sunlight and maintenance than intensive agriculture and can thrive within a sloped, shaded landscape.

Roof Garden

Like most spaces in The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, the rooftop garden will serve many purposes and help contribute to the building’s performance. The 5,347 square foot rooftop garden will consist of a honeybee apiary, pollinator garden, and blueberry orchard. These elements will help satisfy a portion of the Living Building Challenge’s Urban Agriculture Petal requirement while simultaneously offering valuable curriculum and research opportunities.

Of the rooftop’s total square footage, 1,000 square feet will be public space. This unique space will also assist in reconnecting students, faculty, and visitors with their food system by modeling a sustainable and productive infrastructure that supports pollinators and pollinator habitat conservation awareness.

Functionally, the rooftop garden will contain rainwater catchments to help manage stormwater runoff, while shade provided by the photovoltaic canopy will help mitigate the urban heat island effect.

 

Photovoltaic Canopy

To achieve Living Building Challenge 3.1 certification, The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design must function at net positive energy – meaning it must harvest more energy (in this case via photovoltaic panels) than it consumes. Like all living things, The Kendeda Building will need to “sleep” in order to restore its energy reserves. Currently, the plans are to make the building available for occupancy a total of 16 hours a day with variable access after 5 p.m. 

Based upon this rate of occupancy and a variety of interconnected variables, the building’s Energy Use Intensity (EUI) is expected to be 34, which is 66 percent more efficient that your average building of the same size and occupancy. While this certainly helps contribute to the net positive energy goals for the building, any variation that impacts the intake or output of energy will alter the building’s performance.       

The solar array capacity on the Living Building at Georgia Tech will need to produce 367,000 kWh (approximately) based on the targeted 34 EUI.

Clerestory Windows

Dating back to early Christine Byzantine architecture, clerestory windows are popular for their ability to unobtrusively deliver natural light to large interior spaces. In The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, clerestory windows will be installed at the roof of the two-story atrium to provide ample daylight and natural ventilation to the open space below. Considered a rather simple design technique, these windows will help reduce the need for electrically-powered artificial lighting and air conditioning which will greatly contribute to the building’s net positive energy requirement. 

Entrance from Ferst Drive

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Interior Floor

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Rainwater Cistern

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design must collect more water than it consumes on an annual basis to function as a net positive water facility – one of the many requirements to achieve Living Building Challenge 3.1 certification. Due to the humid and rainy conditions in the Southeast (Atlanta receives a level of rainfall every year that is on par with Seattle), the building is expected to harvest 460,000 gallons of water a year. To hold all this water, the building will house a 50,000-gallon cistern in the basement of the building. 

Like all living things, the cistern will need to replenish itself and will do so by collecting rainwater from the roof.  Overflow for the system is designed to work with the natural slope of the topography to most effectively manage the volume and rate of water flowing throughout the site. These systems include a stormwater raingarden and trickle filter under the porch plaza as well as a series of constructed wetlands and edible landscape areas with subsurface infiltration. In addition, there will be rainwater catchments on the roof of the building to collect stormwater before it reaches the ground. 

Rainwater and Greywater Treatment Equipment

Achieving net positive water is one of the major imperatives of Living Building Challenge 3.1 certification. The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design will collect­ – and appropriately treat – the water that it collects on site in order to provide the water needed for irrigation, potable water (i.e. safe to drink), and the small amount of water needed for the composting toilettes. 

To achieve net positive water, the following strategies are planned to collect and recycle both rainwater and greywater (waste water from sinks and showers) on site.  

Harvest and treat rooftop rainwater to supply all potable demands for the building.

  • Rainwater from approximately 18,000 SF of rooftop will be filtered and disinfected. A 45,000+ gallon cistern stores water to overcome drought and provide water resiliency.
  • The cistern system harvests approximately 41% of the annual rooftop runoff; the balance is managed on site.

Manage waste water on site by using a greywater treatment system and composting toilets.

  • Greywater and condensate will be used to supply the majority of irrigation demand on the site. Any makeup needed can be drawn from the cistern provided that water is available.
  • Finished compost and compost tea (leachate) will be periodically removed and used onsite, on campus, or in a regional facility that produces beneficial byproducts (compost, fertilizer).

Provide onsite filtration of stormwater.

  • Overflows from the rainwater and condensate systems will join stormwater management systems on the site.
  • Approximately 59% of the annual rooftop runoff will overflow from the cistern to onsite stormwater systems.

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The Living Building at Georgia Tech has reached a major milestone, with the approval of the schematic design. Approved by Georgia Tech’s Planning and Design Commission in December, the schematic design essentially provides a working blueprint for what is anticipated to be the most environmentally advanced research and educational building ever constructed in the Southeast. Read More

The Living Building at Georgia Tech crosses an end-of-the-year threshold Wednesday as the building’s architects present their proposed schematic design to the university’s Planning and Design Commission. Read More

Start Schematic Design Phase

Sept 2016  

Since last fall, when the notion of developing a Living Building on Georgia Tech’s campus became a reality, there has been a flurry of planning activities that have involved a variety of stakeholders on campus and beyond to help ensure the success of this transformative project. Read More

The Georgia Institute of Technology has received a commitment for $30 million from The Kendeda Fund to build what is expected to become the most environmentally advanced education and research building ever constructed in the Southeast. The investment represents The Kendeda Fund’s largest single grant and ranks among the largest capital gifts ever received by Georgia Tech. Read More

The Georgia Institute of Technology has selected the team of Lord Aeck Sargent and The Miller Hull Partnership to design the Institute’s Living Building Challenge 3.0 project. The final team was selected after three teams participated in an ideas competition to explore all the possibilities and challenges of designing this certified project, set to be constructed on the Georgia Tech campus beginning in 2017. Read More

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology is a leading research university committed to improving the human condition through advanced science and technology.

student life at georgia techRanked as the #7 best public university, Georgia Tech provides a focused, technologically based education to more than 21,500 undergraduate and graduate students.

Georgia Tech has many nationally recognized programs, all top-ranked by peers and publications alike, and is ranked in the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News and World Report.

Degrees are offered through the colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Sciences, the Scheller College of Business, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

The strong academic work ethic at Tech is balanced by a collegiate atmosphere incorporating both intercollegiate and intramural sports, campus traditions, and some 400 student organizations.

Alongside their academic achievements, Tech students are also active in the community, earning a well-rounded education through community service activities.

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  • Location: Carnegie Building (See Campus Map)
  • Phone: (404) 894-4615
  • Fax: (404) 894-1277
  • Mailing Address: Division of Administration and Finance
                                 Georgia Institute of Technology, Carnegie Building
                                 223 Uncle Heinie Way, N.W.
                                 Atlanta, GA 30332-0325
  • Campus Mail Stop:  0325

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