Could UGA LEED our state to Greener Buildings?

The Tate Student Center earned gold LEED certification in 2009, and has served as a good start to creating a green campus. Who knew that there was a 75,000-gallon cistern on the roof of Tate to collect rainwater for flushing toilets and irrigating campus landscape?

Other buildings that showcase LEED certification around UGA are Residence Hall 1516 (gold), Pharmacy South Addition (silver), Georgia Museum of Art Addition (gold), the Special Collections Library (gold), and Jackson Street Building (gold).

The LEED organization certifies schools, homes, corporate headquarters, and just about everything in between. Certification is also popular among the engineering population – they can test that they can certify an individual for – something that is growing in popularity as well as demand.


The USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) currently records over 79,000 LEED certified buildings in over 160 countries and territories. These can be searched for on the projects tab of the website. According to an article from the AJC, over 100 of these are state buildings in Georgia.

The 2015 Green Building Economic Impact study estimates that between 2015 and 2018, LEED-certified buildings in the United States are estimated the total savings of $1.2 billion in energy, $149.5 million in water, $715.2 million in maintenance and $54.2 million in waste.

With several other options besides silver and gold, it seems as if UGA has chosen to do an all-or-nothing type of approach. Upon the certification of Tate in 2009, UGA stated that it will continue to provide assessments on a case-by-case basis to determine whether LEED certification could be beneficial. This is a sizable accomplishment to have both silver and gold buildings, because they are a step above simply certified.

For a building, there are 110 different points that you can earn to add up to a total that could earn medals. The totals add up like so: Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points) and Platinum (80+).


An on-going battle in Georgia called the “wood wars” highlights what happens with these conflicting interests within the state. This is especially highlighted in Georgia because of the astounding amount of pines we use to harvest paper.

Since Governor Deal has played his hand in the process, the Republican party in Georgia has been criticized for muddying the water with excess legislation on the subject. The Republican party felt backlash by tree-huggers when he discouraged LEED Certification for these purposes, even though the wood initiative only accounts for a single point out of the 110 that LEED offers.

The Forest Stewardship Counsel sets the current standard for LEED certified wood by restricting the amount of lumber you can cut down at any given time – a regulation that is unacceptable to Georgia’s massive pine-cutting industry.

After much back and forth in the state of Georgia, Governor Deal decided in 2015 that LEED certification would be banned for all publicly funded projects after House Bill 255 was passed. It was passed to give equal consideration to all credible forest certification programs, as so deemed by the state of Georgia. This raises more questions in the gray-area of privately funded state projects.

Look forward to seeing how the new architecture supports the environment as UGA renovates many of the old treasures that serve as a living museum of Georgia’s history.






About The Author

Leave a Reply