United States Green Building Council Regional Office Meets Sustainable Objectives with Concrete

green_ecoThe Eco Office of the Southface Energy Institute, an Atlanta, Georgia-based organization focused on promoting sustainable development, is designed to be the region’s most prominent “green” building. The building’s extensive use of concrete on various sections of the structure showcases the benefits of concrete solutions in sustainable development and demonstrates the versatility of the world’s most widely-used building material.

The building’s design incorporates many concrete products that enable it to achieve optimal durability and energy performance:

• Insulating concrete form (ICF) wall systems in the Eco Office improve energy performance and lower heating and cooling costs. In an ICF system, concrete is poured around a stacked foam frame to create a solid wall, which provides continuous insulation as well as a point of attachment for interior and exterior finishes. As a result, the Southface Eco Office will require far less energy to regulate temperature than buildings with traditional walls.

• The use of pervious concrete on sidewalks and similar hardscape around the exterior of the building. Pervious concrete is an open void material designed to allow rainwater to filter into the ground through the paved surfaces, rather than settling on the surface. This innovation provides improved storm water drainage for sidewalks, parking lots, and other public spaces. Pervious concrete also has a reduced heat storing capacity, creating a cooler surface. This is a particularly important asset in cities like Atlanta, where the urban heat island effect raises temperatures significantly in the metropolitan area.

• The “green roof” that sits atop the Eco Office at Southface is another sustainable development application made possible by the use of concrete. To build a green roof, a thick layer of topsoil is poured over a concrete base, and vegetation is planted for an attractive, environmentally sound roof. Green roofs reduce storm water runoff, provide additional insulation, and can help reduce the heat island effect. Because it can support the significant amount of weight that soil and vegetation add to a structure, concrete is an ideal choice for green roof designs.

• Southface also incorporates recycled materials in the concrete portions of its Eco Office. Up to 40 percent of the cementious portion of the concrete mix in the building is composed of recovered material. The recycled cementious materials in the Eco Office will include fly ash, the by-product of burning coal for electricity, and slag cement, which is produced from the ground slag by-product of steel manufacturing.

To support the Southface project more than 30 member companies of the Georgia Concrete & Products Association have pledged to donate cementbased materials.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC), a national organization that set the standard for green building in the United States with its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification system, has announced that the Southface Eco Office will serve as a training facility and resource to educate builders about green building and LEED certification. The extensive use of concrete in this USGBC facility demonstrates the prominent role concrete plays in sustainable development.

The Eco Office of the Southface Energy Institute will incorporate a variety of concrete products to meet green building objectives. The building will be a symbol of concrete contributions to environmentally responsible building and sustainable development.


Project Manager:
Southface Project Management

Lord, Aeck & Sargent, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia

Structural Engineer:

Ksi/Structural Engineers, Atlanta, Georgia

Civil Engineer:
Eberly & Associates, Atlanta, Georgia

MEP Engineers:
Keen, Inc. McKenney’s, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia

Construction Team:
DPR Construction Inc., Atlanta, Georgia
Hardin Construction Co., LLC, Atlanta, Georgia
Holder Construction Company, Atlanta, Georgia
Skanska USA Building, New York, New York
The Winter Construction Company with assistance from R.J. Griffin & Company, Atlanta, Georgia