GPW: Southface Eco Office

June 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 5/31/11
Southface Eco Office
Atlanta, GA, USA
2,000 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2008
Owner: Southface Energy Institute
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Extensive
System: Custom
Size: 2,000 sq.ft.
Slope: 4%
Access: Accessible, By Appointment

Google Map: http://goo.gl/maps/1IDf

Project Description & Details

Southface is the U.S. Southeast’s non-profit leader in the promotion of sustainable homes, workplaces and communities. Built by a consortium of construction firms using widely available, off-the-shelf products, materials and technologies, the Platinum LEED Southface Eco Office is a three-story structure with a rooftop green roof open to the public for educational tours. Also holding an ENERGY STAR label and EarthCraft Light Commercial certification, as well as meeting The 2030 Challenge, the Eco Office is noted for its average energy cost of less than $25 per day.

The Turner Foundation Green Roof on top of the third floor expands the office space into a rooftop patio with a spectacular view of downtown Atlanta. The growing media is about 4″ deep, and was planted by staff and volunteers with a variety of Sedums, Delospermas, Talinums, and Hens and Chicks. It’s also home to a 6.4 kW photovoltaic array and a 1,750-gallon rainwater collection cistern. Waterproofing was supplied by American Hydrotech, J-DRain by JDR Enterprises, Mr. Natural growing media by ItSaul Natural, and plants by Saul Nurseries.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Architect: Lord, Aeck & Sargent
Landscape Architect: ECOS
Plant Supplier: Saul Nurseries
Growing Media: Mr. Natural, ItSaul Natural
Waterproofing & Green Roof System: American Hydrotech
Drainage: J-DRain by JDR Enterprises

Additional Info

For over 30 years, Southface Energy Institute has promoted sustainable homes, workplaces and communities through education, research, advocacy and technical assistance.  Driven by the Atlanta area’s growing need to save energy and water, and to preserve our natural resources, Southface proactively encourages responsible solutions for environmental living.  For example, all paved surfaces on the site are constructed of porous concrete to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff, and the rooftop cistern below, collects rainwater from the building’s solar photovoltaic array.

I first visited Southface in the early ’00′s, when I was initially involved with the Atlanta City Hall Pilot Greenroof, and it was very green then.  They used to host the monthly Cool Communities meetings there with government, industry, academic and other non-profit stakeholders.  Then I became involved a bit with the volunteers who designed and provided materials and services for the new Eco Office.  It has always been an enlightening and rewarding place – they do great work!  Once the Eco Office was finished in 2008, it was over-the-top green!

Speaking of great work, for over 10 years now Southface has been involved with the Greenprints Conference and Trade Show.  Co-hosted by Southface and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), Greenprints is a two-day, high-impact educational event that addresses forward-thinking strategies for sustainable planning, policy, design and construction.  Living here in the Atlanta area, I’ve been several years, and spoke there in 2009 – it’s extremely informative and interactive.

Below is a view of the Southface Energy Office seen from the south at dusk, 2009:

“The Eco Office presents a striking profile against the evening sky and provides an appealing location for an evening soiree. Greenroof on right, and adjacent is the Southface Resource Center which was completed in 1996 to show off the best of residential green building design,” ~ Photo Courtesy Southface, Photo By and Copyright Jonathan Hillyer Photography

At 10,100 sf, the Southface Eco Office is the same size as about 74% of all commercial buildings in the U.S., but it uses 84 percent less potable water, primarily by using captured rainwater for all sewage conveyance and irrigation therefore significantly reducing its need for municipally provided potable water.  It also uses 53 percent less energy than a comparable building!

Fully instrumented to measure its resources on a 24/7 basis, you can check out performance results in real time daily, while it stores historic data for later analysis.  You can do this online via Lucid Design Group’s Building Dashboard, screens above and below, or at the touch screen located at their office.

Some other cool features you can learn about online are the tubular skylights on the Eco Office’s greenroof that provide natural daylighting with minimal solar heat gain eliminating the need for artificial lighting during the day:

Southface has a redesigned website that’s pretty awesome, and have an amazing virtual tour showing features of the exterior, interior, and systems.  Make sure you visit it to learn more.  But if you’re in the area on Wednesdays, read here for real tours.

“The Eco Office proves that effective green building by firms like Lord, Aeck & Sargent can result in designing and constructing buildings that live up to energy efficiency expectations. The firm’s Director of Sustainability, Jim Nicolow, states “The green building movement needs to move beyond intuition to validation. A necessity of high-performance design is the use of quantitative analysis to inform design decisions.” ~ as seen in TriplePundit

In 2009, Southface received the Conserve Georgia Natural Leaders Award for Water Conservation for its LEED Platinum-certified Eco Office.  By the way, if you’re in the market, you can rent The Turner Foundation Green Roof, with its spectacular, panoramic city views and capacity for up to 50 people!

It’s a model of sustainability, new technologies, educational resources, and aesthetically striking – what more could you ask for from an eco-office?

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click here to see more information about this project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.