View from Peachtree: Mission Accomplished – Building Atlanta's Sustainable Future

November 11,2019

Audrey Leous, Saporta Report Thought Leadership Column

Peachtree Street is home to some of the largest and most well-known high-rise buildings in Atlanta. Over the past decade, many of these buildings have participated in a hallmark program known as the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (ABBC). 

Originally enrolling in 2011, the City of Atlanta became one of the first participants to commit to the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge, setting an internal goal of 2 million square feet and a 20% reduction in energy by 2020.  Atlanta has since saved 1.3 billion gallons of water (equivalent to a 30-day supply), created and sustained 654 jobs, added $51.63 to the regional economy, and saved enough energy to power nearly 150,000 homes for a year.  

The cooperation of Atlanta's three major office markets – Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead – has been a critical element of the program's success. The ABBC has leveraged their competitive dynamic and shared community loyalty to achieve maximum participation, establishing a precedent and paradigm for the next wave of sustainability initiatives to come.

In total, more than 450 local facilities answered the call, representing a diverse mix of buildings. The variety of participants – high-rise offices, historic buildings, convention centers, residential complexes, sports venues, government facilities and more – offered challenges in modeling and tracking, and even greater opportunities to gain knowledge and insights for a wide range of future application.

In Atlanta's characteristic spirit, the ABBC has thrived as a partnership of the public, private and nonprofit sectors. It has demonstrated how resource conservation can be advanced in a complex urban environment, offering a framework for replication.

ABBC is a nation-leading public/private initiative to reduce energy and water use in the buildings by 20 percent by the year 2020. Led by the City of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Resilience, the program has been managed locally by Central Atlanta Progress/Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, with technical support from Southface Institute and outreach support from Livable Buckhead and Midtown Alliance.