Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced the expansion of the program, which aims to reduce water and energy consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020, Wednesday morning at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead.
“Today’s announcement not only takes a step toward making Atlanta a top-tier sustainable city, it takes us a step forward to maturity,” Reed said. “And Atlanta’s sustainability project is the way forward not only for our environment, but for our city to remain economically and socially responsible to this future generation.”
After the U.S. Department of Energy kicked off the sustainability program in Atlanta in 2011, Midtown and surrounding neighborhoods joined the effort to help the city reach 9 percent of its 20 percent sustainability goal. Buckhead is the latest community to accept the challenge.
“We’re really going to be operating on all cylinders in the city of Atlanta,” Reed said of the addition.
Buckhead brings 41 additional buildings — half of the Buckhead office market — to the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge, representing a 55 percent increase in participation for the city. The city now has a total of 121 buildings comprising 67 million square feet of space participating in the challenge.
Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, a local nonprofit spearheading Buckhead’s involvement with the challenge, said much of the 15 million square feet of space is not only office buildings, but also includes shopping centers, schools, a hotel and a nonprofit.
“In a world where environmentally friendly building is on the rise, Buckhead has responded tremendously,” Starling said. “It boasts an impressive and growing list of green credentials.”
Starling said on its own, Buckhead is surpassing several major cities in how much space is dedicated to going green as part of the nationwide Better Buildings Challenge.
“The Buckhead square footage is more than Denver, more than Fort Worth and more than several others and we’re pretty excited about that,” she said.
Reed said he’s looking forward to adding even more building stock to the initiative and challenging other cities to become more sustainable based on the success of Atlanta’s participation.
“This is the right local decision, the right social decision and the right business decision,” he said, “and I could not be more grateful to every single person who is here and who has decided to help in this very, very important effort.”