Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Buildings Making A Mark On Athens, Georgia

Reports show that people benefit greatly from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building standards. Built upon principles of sustainability, LEED certified buildings are popping up across the nation and have made their way to Athens, Georgia.

The LEED standard is becoming more and more popular as people recognize that green designs result in happier and healthier guests. Athens’ very own sustainable design firm, Bork Design, opened in 2005 and has since developed 16 environmentally sustainable residences and commercial buildings. As global warming becomes a more prominent issue, LEED certified buildings are not just trendy but also necessary.

When asked about the effect of LEED certified buildings, Athens-Clarke County sustainability officer Andrew Saunders says, “if they are designed with waste reduction and energy and water conservation in mind then they can make a considerable impact.” Saunders has witnessed the progression of buildings going green.

“Those designed for energy conservation use 20-50% less energy than a standard “code-designed” building,” he added.

Downtown hotel Indigo Athens is LEED certified and has many environmental projects in the works for this year. The hotel reduces, reuses and recycles—incorporating many green features into its design to combat climate change.

“The decision to pursue LEED status for Indigo began with the developers and we were brought onto that team because of our skills, aesthetic and shared interest in sustainability,” says senior designer and LEED project manager of Ellen Hanson Designs, Lisa Hargus. Hargus says the goal of Indigo was to communicate the mission of sustainable chic.

The outdoor courtyard behind hotel Indigo Athens features a water cistern that collects condensation and then waters surrounding plants. Photo by: Elizabeth Chambers

The hotel is now 21% more energy efficient than other hotels. It provides a bike rack and showers for those who chose to bike to and from its location. It offers priority parking for hybrid vehicles and a charging station for electric vehicles. Its outdoor courtyard features a water cistern that collects condensation which then waters the surrounding plantings.

Indigo’s general manager Barry Rutherford says, “we have very positive responses to our environmental initiatives…I’d say it’s recognized as cool by 50 percent of our guests.”

LEED certified buildings will continue to pop up in Athens in coming years. Their sustainable design offers just as much as the average building—with less of an environmental footprint.

Recently elected Georgia state representative Deborah Gonzalez  says, “it works little by little, but decades later you see the difference it has made.” Gonzalez hopes to tie the environment and sustainable infrastructure together. “Our biggest obstacle is cost,” she adds.

In coming years, we can expect to see more LEED certified buildings developed Athens—as Gonzalez works to increase the environmental budget.

Want to work towards decreasing your environmental footprint? Check out the video below for simple ways to make your home greener.

 

By: Elizabeth Chambers

 

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