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David Pendered

Buckhead participates in Atlanta’s Better Buildings Challenge, adds 41 buildings to efficiency program

By David Pendered

Buckhead has joined Atlanta’s Better Buildings Challenge and added an additional 15 million square feet of commercial space to the city’s efficiency program, which now covers 65 million square feet.

The energy assessment of 55 Allen Plaza shows the building, constructed in 2007, has 10 opportunities for upgrades, at a cost $247,000, which could be recovered in two years. Credit: atlantadowntown.com

The energy assessment of 55 Allen Plaza shows the building, constructed in 2007, has 10 opportunities for upgrades, at a cost $247,000, which could be recovered in two years. Credit: atlantadowntown.com

The BBC was launched by the Obama administration in 2011 to promote energy and water efficiency in commercial and public buildings. The national goal is to reduce the energy intensity in commercial and public buildings by 20 percent by 2020.

Livable Buckhead was a founding partner of the city’s program and it formally began participating July 17. When it joined, Buckhead brought an amount of commercial space into Atlanta’s program that’s greater than the entire BBC program in Denver and Fort Worth, according to a statement from the city.

Livable Buckhead brought 41 buildings, which represent half the Buckhead market. The area faces a steep challenge in meeting the challenge because so many of the buildings were recently built and comply with various efficiency standards, according to Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead.

“Much of the Buckhead inventory has been built within the past 15 years, which means they have a much lower baseline for energy use,” Starling said in a statement. “That will make it challenging to meet the 20 percent reduction target by 2020, but I am confident that they are up to the challenge.

Atlanta’s progress toward meeting the goal has won kudos from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The DOE’s 2012 “Progress Report” cited Atlanta for its public-private partnership program that, “engages the local community in reducing energy and water consumption by providing access to project financing, free building assessments, education and training, and public recognition.”

The potential savings nationwide are significant, according to the Obama administration. Annual savings of $40 billion could be achieved by addressing only commercial buildings. Similar savings could be achieved across industrial facilities, according to the 2012 report.

Atlanta’s 2012 report is equally upbeat.

Seventy buildings in downtown Atlanta and Midtown have been enrolled in the BBC, according to a statement from Mayor Kasim Reed’s office. Of those buildings, 23 have been assessed and the findings show the cost of implementing each recommendation could be recovered within the first three years.

Atlanta has recognized 20 of the participants who have reached the goal of reducing either energy or water consumption by 20 percent since 2009.

That achievement is a step toward achieving the energy and water savings of at least 20 percent that Atlanta intends to reach in more than 40 million square feet of buildings, according to the city’s page on the DOE website. With the addition of the Buckhead properties, Atlanta’s program now covers 65 million square feet of commercial space, according to the statement from Reed’s office.

“The Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge is a tremendous example of what can be accomplished when businesses and government unite around a single goal,” Reed said in the statement. “The program’s expansion to Buckhead solidifies Atlanta’s position as a sustainability leader, and demonstrates the strength of our commitment to energy efficiency.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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