Eco-Commons: Living Building Sector

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The northwest sector of campus has been a hub of activity lately with the new Police Department Building, the Dalney Building and the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design all opening their doors.  The next highly anticipated project in this area is the renewal of eight acres of land located at the corner of Hemphill Street and Ferst Drive.  The most innovative and restorative portion of the Eco-Commons to-date: the Living Building Sector (LBS) is coming to life! 

A lush greenspace will soon emerge from what was formerly the Beringhause Building and two surface parking lots. The Eco-Commons: Living Building Sector is purposely located due west of the Kendeda Building for Innovative and Sustainable Design in order to complement the regenerative ideals of the Living Building Challenge which KBISD will pursue.  

The overall Eco-Commons Project, of which the Living Building Sector is a part, envisions 80 acres of green spaces across campus that follow what were the original, naturally occurring stream paths of this region before being urbanized. These green spaces are being designed and engineered to reduce storm water runoff by 50%, while also supporting increased greenspace, living learning labs and biodiversity on campus.   

The Eco-Commons: Living Building Sector aims to mimic a traditional piedmont woodland that was located here on campus before the city grew up around it. Currently the majority of acreage is covered by oak,pine and hickory trees along with crepe myrtles and redbuds.  The trees have been surveyed and range from specimen trees, (those with high historic or ecological value), to trees in fair or poor condition.  According to Jason Gregory, Senior Planner, CPSM, over 60 trees will be temporarily relocated to the Krone tree farm while significant grading of the space is completed.  “It’s pretty neat that we have the ability to “swing space” these trees on campus while this project moves forward,” explained Gregory.   

In preparation for the eight different plant communities slated for the project, extensive amendments such as compost and bio char will be added to the soil. Installation of utilities, water infiltration cells and drainage infrastructure will take place before any planting can begin. 

Next, over 600 new trees will be planted, the relocated trees will be replanted and this increased tree canopy will support a display of understory perennials such as flowering dogwood, yellow daisies and ferns.  A grove of tupelo trees, a prairie-like area of grasses, a manicured lawn, a granite outcropping and seepage wetlands complete the remaining elements of this recreated and enhanced piedmont woodland.  By mid year 2020, students, faculty and staff will be able to meander the walkways and bridges and enjoy the natural beauty of this revitalized sector of campus. 

In creating this performance landscape, Georgia Tech is practicing thoughtful stewardship in land development by including smart infrastructure to facilitate a balanced flow of storm water.  Further, by providing a naturalized ecological and educational environment on campus this project supports Georgia Tech’s commitment to fostering sustainability initiatives well into the 21st century.   

The organized programming of the Eco-Commons: LBS will consist of three living landscape areas – an area to Learn, and area to Engage and an area to Reflect.  Stay tuned for the next article in a 3-part series to learn more about this unique and impactful campus initiative. 


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:cbrim3
  • Created:11/06/2019
  • Modified By:cbrim3
  • Modified:05/26/2022