Jury: “This is a true living laboratory. It exposes its use in very positive ways—from the public space in the front to the transparency of the façade and the public terrace that is visible at the top and looks back on to the community. The project as a whole very convincingly tells the story of an interdisciplinary, integrated design process. A design museum as a tenant also contributes to its effectiveness.”

Architect: “We wanted to use the building as a teaching tool to interject catalytic change in the industry. We meshed up different strategies in a synthesis of moves to gain compound results, and that’s where we gained real ground. Many people think this is a great new building in Atlanta. It’s gratifying to see something that was forgotten and underutilized become culturally relevant and offer something back to the city.” —Bruce McEvoy, AIA, associate principal and senior project designer at Perkins+Will

In designing its Atlanta office at 1315 Peachtree Street NE, Perkins+Will aimed for LEED Platinum certification, the 2030 Challenge target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 percent, and the elimination of toxic and hazardous substances in the building products used. Perkins+Will itself occupies the top four floors, which offer space for 240 employees. The Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library occupies the building’s second floor.

The firm sought to make the project, a 78,956-square-foot 1986 office structure in Midtown, a living lab and case study of sustainable strategies. To reduce greenhouse gases by 60 percent, the team determined that partial energy source substitution would be necessary. The solution is a cogeneration strategy using natural gas-fired microturbines, which has a lower carbon intensity than the power sold by Georgia Power, which is generated by burning coal. Solar studies and energy modeling were used to best incorporate daylighting, glazing, and shading, as well as to calculate lighting and properly sized the HVAC systems. The building remains connected to the grid.

In reworking the site, street-level parking was eliminated and replaced by a new tenant space for the Museum of Design Atlanta. Permeable paving replaced pervious paving and landscape was added that captures stormwater and uses it to recharge the region’s aquifer. Existing tree wells were expanded to allow more surface area and reduce runoff. Seeking to reduce the use of potable water, the team installed a system that captures rainwater from the roof and a fifth-floor terrace and stores it in a 10,000-gallon underground cistern. From there, it is filtered, treated, and pumped to all flush fixtures in the building. The bathrooms are also equipped with low-flow fixtures. Excess stormwater is used for irrigation or released into bioswales. No potable water is used for irrigation.

The design of Perkins+Will’s office spaces provides a variety of work conditions to accommodate heads-down work at individual desks, or group work at tables. There is also outdoor and informal workspace, conferencing areas, and team rooms where projects live.

Building automation and monitoring systems record continuous, real-time data for all energy use; chilled, hot, and condensed water; microturbines; rainwater collection; CO2 levels; temperature; and humidity. A separate inter-office monitor compares energy and water use in the building to that of other Perkins+Will’s offices.

Building gross floor area: 78,956 square feet
Estimated percent of occupants using public transit, cycling, or walking: 33
Percent of daylight at levels that allow lights to be off during daylight hours: 84
Percent of views to the outdoors: 98
Percent of spaces within 15 feet of an operable window: 5
Percent reduction of regulated potable water: 77
Is potable water used for irrigation: No 
Percent of rainwater from maximum anticipated 24-hour, two-year storm event that can be managed onsite: 76
Total EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 97
Net EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 28
Percent reduction from national average EUI for building type: 51
Lighting power density (watts per square foot): 0.55
LEED rating: Platinum, LEED NC 2009
Total project cost at time of completion, land excluded: $10 million

Data and project information provided by architecture firm via AIA COTE Top Ten entry documents.

For an extended view into Perkins+Will's philsophies on sustainable design as well as a showcase of the firm's other green projects, click here. For more information on each project, as well as a database of past Top Ten projects, visit aiatopten.org.