Georgia College Students Visit Southface Institute in Atlanta

Ava Leone 

GC students learn about sustainable architecture at Southface tour Friday, Feb. 21st.
Photograph by Ava Leone

On Friday, February 21st, the Georgia College Office of Sustainability offered a free tour to Southface Institute in Atlanta. Southface is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to “promote sustainable homes, workplaces, and communities through education, research, advocacy, and technical assistance” in the City of Atlanta and surrounding areas. The tour helped open students’ eyes to cutting-edge technologies and innovative methods for integrating sustainable architectural design into building structures. From compostable toilets to green roofs, the building designers rethought the use of traditional fixtures to help reduce the carbon footprint of the building and maximize the use of natural resources. 

Southface Institute is named after the placement of the building’s windows – 94% of them are located on the south side of the building in order to passively absorb the sun’s heat. Check out this article published by Utah State University that goes more in-depth! 

Southface Institute diverts approximately 88% of its waste and showcases sustainable design features such as light shelves, view dynamic glass, duct socks, mill hop carpet, compostable toilets, horsetail runoff water filters and more. Although some of these features are not the cheapest, they act as an investment and pay for themselves in savings over time.

Students posing with horsetail runoff filters.
Photograph by Ava Leone

Installations like the light shelves increase the natural lighting in a room by providing a platform for light to bounce off of while features like the view dynamic glass filter light by changing tint according to the amount of light exposure outside. The duct socks serve as an alternative to metal heating and cooling tubes. These socks are machine-washable and are sometimes threaded vertically through the building instead of the ceiling. Many features were made of reclaimed materials, such as the mill hop carpet and some benches. The compostable toilet collects human waste to use in flower beds and uses only .6 oz of water to flush while traditional toilets use up to 2-3 gallons of water per flush. Outside the building, small horsetail forests are used to help filter rainwater before it permeates into the ground. All of these units work in conjunction with one another to help reduce Southface’s environmental impact.  

Southface works with businesses in Atlanta and many other areas in order to help them build sustainable buildings and help develop their green initiatives. We hope to return in the future after such an inspirational tour! 

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