Column: Georgia ranks No. 8 in nation for green buildings

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on February 13, 2015

Georgia has made it into the top 10 states in the nation for green buildings, the first time it has made the prestigious list.

The U.S. Green Building Council released its annual ranking for LEED, the world’s most recognized green building rating system, and Georgia ranked No. 8 among the 50 states.

The list highlights the per-capita number of green building developments – highlighting which states are making strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation. According to the Council, LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water resources, save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier environment.

“Every story about a green building is a story about people,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair of the USGBC. “USGBC’s annual recognition of the Top 10 States for LEED goes beyond gross square feet or number of projects…. This per-capita approach tells a great story about how LEED has become an important benchmark in the transformation of the nation’s built environment.”

Georgia’s improved ranking was first reported in Southeast Green, an online environmental publication.

“Georgia has so many committed business and community leaders, policy makers and green building professionals who are using LEED to transform their built environment, producing many innovative spaces that will improve the health of our shared planet, as well as the health of the people who use those buildings every day,” Fedrizzi said in Southeast Green.

The per-capita list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects that were certified throughout 2014. Georgia certified 87 projects representing 17,748,781 square feet of real estate, or 1.83 square feet per resident, in 2014.

“Georgia’s inclusion in the Top 10 demonstrates that our building owners and operators have come to recognize the importance of LEED certification and the triple bottom line,” said David Freedman, executive director, USGBC Georgia Chapter. “We will continue to build on the momentum generated by the diverse range of public, private and non-profit projects certified in Georgia last year, and we hope to see more states from the Southeastern region join us on this list next year.”

Notable projects certified in Georgia in 2014 include:

The Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, LEED Silver

The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, LEED Gold

Smyrna Area Elementary School in Smyrna, LEED Silver

Epsten Group Corporate Office, The Edge, in Atlanta, LEED Platinum

The Biological Science Building at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, LEED Gold

The Hurt Building in Atlanta, recertified LEED Platinum, and

One Atlantic Center in Atlanta, LEED Gold

The No. 1 state in the country for LEED-certified projects was Illinois, followed by Colorado (2), Maryland (3), Virginia (4), Massachusetts (5), Hawaii (6), California (7), Georgia (8), Minnesota (9), and Arizona and New York (tied for 10).

Martha Brooks new chair of the Carter Center

Atlanta business leader Martha Finn Brooks is the new 2015 chair of The Carter Center’s board of councilors.

The 235-member board serves as an advisory leadership group that promotes understanding among opinion leaders and the broader community of the Carter Center and its activities.

Brooks, who serves on the board of Bombardier, Jabil and CARE, retired as president and chief operating officer of Novelis, a global aluminum company, in 2009.

“Martha has demonstrated a sincere commitment to our mission since she joined the Board of Councilors in 2010,” said Ambassador Mary Ann Peters, CEO of the Carter Center, in a statement. “We look forward to working even more closely with her in this new leadership role.”

Brooks is following outgoing chair Dennis Lockhart, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and past chair Walter Driver Jr., chairman, southeast, of Goldman Sachs & Co.

Midtown Alliance annual meeting

At the annual meeting of the Midtown Alliance on Feb. 9 at the Fox Theatre, Atlanta Federal Reserve CEO Dennis Lockhart seemed pleased to be handing over the chairman’s role to Joe Bankoff, chair of the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech.

Bankoff has served on the Midtown Alliance board over the years when he was CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center. Before that, he was a long-time partner of the King & Spalding law firm. He also happens to live only a five blocks away from the offices of the Midtown Alliance.

Before stepping off the stage, Lockhart shared these parting words: “Economies are driven by cities, and dynamic districts in cities are driven by people.”

Lockhart said an area’s amenities feed on each other, creating an energy that brings even more people to a dynamic district.

“I really think that Midtown has these attributes in spades,” he said. “It doesn’t happen automatically. A district like Midtown requires leadership. Kevin (Green) and his team – there’s a plan and vision; there’s leadership that’s with it.”

Bankoff said that in lieu of another plaque for him to hang on his wall, the Midtown Alliance would be planting a willow oak in his honor and placing a plaque showing his years of service: 2012 to 2015.

The keynote speaker of the event, Jeff Speck, has become a leading expert on “Walkable Cities” – telling Atlantans that “when a city is built around the pedestrian, the city thrives and is successful.”

Then he confessed to the audience: His impression of Atlanta used to be its clogged interstates stretching out to sprawling suburbs.

“I kind of beat on Atlanta in my writings,” Speck said. “Things really changed. Atlanta is one of the cities to move to. It’s amazing how far you have come… I really hope you will do more.”

Georgia Department of Economic Development

At the end of the Georgia Department of Economic Development board meeting on Feb. 5, Chairman Charles Tarbutton surprised many of those present.

“I have submitted my resignation as chairman to the governor at the end of this board meeting,” he said. “The best is yet to come. Having said that, the governor has asked Jay Neely to step into the chair’s role.”

Neely is vice president of law and public affairs for Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., a selection that the all-male board endorsed. But Tarbutton was quite circumspect about why he was resigning, only saying there would be an announcement from Gov. Nathan Deal’s office.

Within 24 hours, Deal announced that Tarbutton, assistant vice president of the Sandersville Railroad Co., was being appointed to the Georgia Ports Authority, one of the most plum assignments in the state.

At the same time, Deal also appointed a woman to the board of the Georgia Department of Economic Development – Beth Shiroishi, president of AT&T Georgia, where she is responsible for the company’s government relations, public policy and community relations initiatives across the state.

Randall Hatcher, president of MAU Workforce Solutions in Augusta, also was named to the department’s board. Hatcher is the author of the “Birth of a New Workforce.”

Coles College of Business Hall of Fame

Kennesaw State University Coles College of Business is borrowing an idea from Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business. It is launching a Business Hall of Fame. It will unveil the inaugural Coles College of Business Hall of Fame and its inductees on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at a reception ceremony.

Not surprisingly, at the top of the list of the inductees is Michael J. Coles, president and executive chairman of Global Onboard Partners and the namesake of the college.

The other inductees will be Gene Henssler, president and CIO of the Henssler Financial Group; Connie Engel, partner of Childress Klein Properties; Thomas Hughes, president and CEO of MEA Inc. and NEA Inc.; Kerstin Valdés, vice president of finance at Georgia-Pacific (North American Consumer Business); and Mark Wilson, president and CEO of eVerifile Inc.

The Coles Business Hall of Fame will honor business leaders who promote and embody personal integrity, community leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit.

The event is not open to the public.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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