Sustainability? The newest structure at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta goes way beyond sustainability. The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design actually generates more electricity and collects more water than it consumes.

"The time for doing less harm is gone," said Shan Arora, director of the building. "We need to have buildings that provide more than they take."

Shading the "front porch" are some of the hundreds of solar panels that generate the building's electricity. They're also part of the water collection system. Photo by Justin Chan Photography

Arora was quoted in a Georgia Tech news release.

The Kendeda Fund donated $25 million for design and construction and $5 million to support programming activities. The fund operates out of Atlanta and is known for supporting environmental causes.

The building is the 1st academic and research building in the Southeast designed to be certified as a living building by the International Living Future Institute. Before it can receive the hoped-for Living Building Challenge 3.1 certification, it must prove that it meets certification standards for 12 consecutive months.

Kim Cobb, Georgia Tech professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, says the building shows "that it's technologically possible to run a system that operates with very low energy draw and still provide a beautiful, compelling space that's comfortable and healthy." Photo by Justin Chan Photography

Standards apply in six "performance areas": place, water, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty.

Georgia Tech dedicated the building in October. It has already won recognition from the Atlanta Regional Commission as the region's best development for 2019. The commission is an intergovernmental agency. Its members are the governments of 10 counties and the City of Atlanta.

Responding to the award, Arora called the building an example for development in the region. Atlanta's rapid growth has put a strain on resources.

"Aside from its first-in-the-state commercial system to turn rainwater into drinkable water, the building manages its grey water and biowaste on-site without adding burden to the region's already stressed wastewater infrastructure," Arora said.

The building will host events until spring, when it opens for classes.

"Really, the best is yet to come," said Michael Gamble, associate professor and director of Graduate Studies in the School of Architecture. "It's not just for those students interested in sustainability as a career. For example, next semester, calculus will be taught in The Kendeda Building."