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Tech’s Kendeda Building featured among world’s problem-solving structures

By David Pendered

A video produced by BBC Storyworks and presented by the World Green Building Council has begun airing about Georgia Tech’s Kendeda Building in a series about buildings around the globe that advance concepts of sustainability and equity.

kendeda, angelica Acevedo

Georgia Tech student Angelica Acevedo delivered opening remarks for the video about the Kendeda building presented by the World Green Building Council. Credit: bbc.com

The exposure places the Kendeda Building squarely in a rarefied arena of buildings that help address some of humankind’s great problems.

Through the video, Tech’s Kendeda Building takes its place on a platform established by the World Green Building Council to, “showcase leadership in the sustainable building and construction industry,” according to a description by worldbc.org.

The video is a crisply edited, 4:59-minute reminder of the aspirations for a building whose benefactor, Kendeda Fund founder Diana Blank, intended for it to, “serve as an impetus for new ways of approaching the world we want to live in.”

One forward-leaning aspect of the Kendeda Building that hasn’t previously received much recognition is the implementation of the Equity Petal of the Living Building Challenge.

kendeda, BBC video

Jennifer Hirsch, director of Tech’s Serve-Learn-Sustain initiative, and students meet in a socially distanced setting outside the Kendeda Building for a discussion of building for equity and sustainability. Credit: bbc.com

The idea of the Equity Petal at the Kendeda Building is to ensure the campus community feels welcome to use the building, regardless of race, class, gender, religion and so forth. The Living Future Institute describes the petal here. These notions were fostered at Tech by a working group based out of the campus-wide academic initiative, Serve-Learn-Sustain. Jimmy Mitchell, the Kendeda project manager for Skanska USA, described the Equity Petal on the video:

  • “The Equity Petal of the Living Building Challenge, it’s all about giving access to everybody no matter their background…. If you’re not thinking about your community, thinking about equitable development across all types of people with different backgrounds, then it’s not a Living Building.”

The video was paid for and presented by Skanska USA. Skanska served as construction manager of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, in conjunction with the design team of Lord Aeck Sargent, of Atlanta, and The Miller Hull Partnership, of Seattle. Paid content is the norm on this particular BBC platform.

kendeda building, marquee

The Kendeda Building is designed to strict standards of sustainability and is now featured in a series presented by the World Green Building Council about models of sustainable design and construction. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

The story unfolds in the style of a feature on CBS’ Sunday Morning. The piece begins with one person revealing a personal insight, and blossoms out to encompass the larger subject. In this case, the video begins with the personal story of Tech student Angelica Acevedo. She’s a fourth-year student who transferred from environmental engineering to writing/communications, with plans to become a technical writer.

Acevedo’s story begins:

  • “Ever since I was little, I’ve always been a conservationist. I remember learning that if you have the water running while you brush your teeth that you’re wasting gallons upon gallons of water and that was sort of the beginning point of when I started to become passionate about saving the environment and environmental justice.
  • “Georgia Tech’s motto is ‘Progress with Service,’ which I really resonate with. Ultimately what drove me was their commitment toward sustainability and their passion for equity and diversity and inclusion.”

Over the weekend, Tech’s video shared a page with six structures:

  • Puebla, Mexico – A certified green hospital was built to respond to demand from Covid-19;
  • Cape Town, South Africa – Belhar Gardens is the nation’s first social housing project to receive EDGE certification, a green housing standard of the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group;
  • Phillipines – Local architecture firm Arthaland is striving to challenges created by climate change by building net zero carbon offices and homes;
  • Hong Kong – On the roof of a skyscraper, families visit Hysan urban farm to harvest their own vegetables and enjoy being in nature;
  • Helsinki – Energy efficient buildings anchor plans to become carbon neutral by 2035;
  • Australia – WBS Technology helps commercial buildings cut energy bills by up to 80% by managing systems for 24-hour emergency lighting.


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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