Georgia Tech Engages Students in the Study of Living Buildings

By Rick Laezman | Aug 15, 2017




College campuses are great proving grounds for testing the boundaries of building energy efficiency. This fall, students at Georgia Tech will have the opportunity to participate in six different pilot projects that are intended to explore improvements in the design, construction, operation and evaluation of sustainable buildings.

All of the projects are tied into the campus' "Living Building," a sustainable building that the university expects "to become the most environmentally advanced education and research building ever constructed in the Southeast." 

The “Living Building Community Crowdsourcing” pilot project aims to give future occupants, along with other stakeholders, a chance at making meaningful suggestions before a building is finished.

In a second project, graduate students will use building information modeling (BIM) technology to identify, visualize and report on materials from a toxic "Red List" and other environmental performance aspects of the project.

In a third project, professors will lead students in a core ecology course as they pore over plants and animals on the site of the Living Building, both before and after construction.

Another project will allow five to 10 students to serve as “Living Building Equity Champions.” The students will expose and engage underrepresented students in the building’s “design and development.

Eight Sustainable Undergraduate Research Fellows, aka “SURFers,” will develop an interactive dashboard that will monitor and display energy, water and other aspects of the Living Building. 

Finally, Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing will disseminate lesson plans and student materials for a multi-year learning experience, targeted at low income and underrepresented middle school students throughout Georgia. 

The projects were made possible with a $30 million grant from the Kendeda Fund. The Living Building is expected to be the first facility of its size and function in the Southeast to be certified Living Building Challenge 3.1.  

The Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program and sustainable design framework from the International Living Future Institute.  It visualizes the ideal for the built environment.  Its buildings are regenerative spaces that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community; self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site; produce more energy than they use and collect and treat all water on site; are healthy and beautiful.

About The Author

LAEZMAN is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at [email protected]

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