Pushing the Boundaries: Following The Living Building Journey of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech

Funded through a private grant from The Kendeda Fund, this project is expected to become a LBC 3.1 certified facility.

1 / 6 Nail-Laminated Decks: The building’s floor decking is composed of either locally salvaged wood or Forest Stewardship Council-certified southern yellow pine. The salvaged wood has come from the Life Cycle Building Center—a local non-profit material and salvage reuse— center, the local film industry and Stone Mountain. Skanska is constructing these nail laminated decks alongside GA Works employees. GA Works is a program that empowers previously unemployed or homeless individuals through a local workforce initiative.
2 / 6 Slate Tile: Slate tiles from the roof of Georgia Tech’s 70 year-old Alumni Association building will be reused to tile the walls in the bathrooms and shower rooms.
3 / 6 Granite Curbs: Our team collected 39 slabs of Stone Mountain granite curbs, totaling 150 linear feet, from the Georgia Archives Building. These will be used as the perimeter curb for a constructed wetland area.
4 / 6 Joists: These 1880s heart pine joists came from Tech Tower, one of two original buildings at Georgia Tech. The joists were salvaged during a 2016 renovation and will be used to build the stair treads at the Kendeda Building.
5 / 6 Storm-Felled Oak: Georgia Tech implemented a storm-fallen tree recovery plan to collect trees. These quartered black oaks will be air-dried for a year, then kiln-dried and processed for use as live-edge slab counter tops and benches.
6 / 6 Lunch Tables: In the spirit of sustainable reuse, the project team uses salvaged lunch tables.

As one of the most rigorous proven performance frameworks for buildings, the LBC has many standards to follow. One of these is the Net Positive Waste Imperative of the LBC, which stipulates that ‘all projects must feature at least one salvaged material per 5,380-SF of gross building area or be an adaptive reuse of an existing structure.’

For new construction, such as The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech, this means that the project must use at least seven different salvaged materials. The project is currently on track to meet and exceed this requirement and is incorporating some innovative strategies.

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design will use the following salvaged materials:

• Nail-Laminated Decks
• Slate tile
• Granite curbs
• Joist
• Storm felled oak

Nail-Laminated Decks

The roof and floor decks of the project will contain nail-laminated panels that are a combination of 2” x 6” and 2”x 4” wood. Each 2” x 6” is structural while the 2” x 4” pieces are spacers. The 2” x 6” wood is new and comes with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain of custody documentation, which shows the path taken by products from the forest to the point of the product’s sale with an FSC claim and/or it is finished and FSC labeled, from a mill in Alabama.

Approximately 25 percent of the 2” x 4” wood is salvaged from dismantled movie sets and exempt from FSC certification requirements.

Slate Tile

The roof of the Alumni Association building at Georgia Tech was replaced after more than 70 years of use. The slate tiles are still in good shape. At the time of demolition, bins were made to fit the lifts used by the construction crew to access the roof. Having bins close at hand made saving the tiles easier for the crew. The slate will be cut and used  to tile the walls in the bathrooms and shower rooms.

Granite Curbs

The Georgia Archives Building was recently razed through a controlled implosion to make way for the new Georgia State Supreme Court. The demolition schedule allowed an opportunity to salvage and collect materials. These Stone Mountain granite curbs have found a home and will be used as the curb that surrounds the constructed wetland—a part of the treatment system for the greywater.


Tech Tower on the Georgia Tech campus, which began construction in 1887, is one of two original buildings that made up the then Georgia School of Technology. In 2016, the interior was fully renovated, including removing the exterior metal fire stairs to be replaced with an interior fire stair. As part of this process, four floors with original heart pine joists were removed and saved. They will be used as the stair treads at The Kendeda Building.

Storm-Felled Oak

Georgia Tech implemented a storm-fallen tree recovery plan to collect trees. The team reviewed the inventory that includes milled white oak, black oak and water oak for The Kendeda Building. The wood, which has been air-dried for one year, will be kiln-dried and processed for use as live-edge slab counter tops and benches.

Lunch Tables

Construction lunch tables, salvaged from a project for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, are located adjacent to the construction trailer. While this isn’t one of the seven salvaged materials, the repurposing of these tables certainly fits the spirit of the team effort to maximize salvaged materials use and reduce waste.

A version of this byline was featured on the Lord Aeck Sargent online blog, which is following the design and construction of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech through a series of posts titled “A Living Building Project Journey.” Skanska is serving as construction manager on this project, partnered with Lord Aeck Sargent, the architect, in collaboration with The Miller Hull Partnership and design team consultants: Newcomb & Boyd, PAE Consulting Engineers, Uzun + Case, Biohabitats, Andropogon and Long Engineering. This is one of five Living Building Challenge (LBC) projects Skanska is currently constructing or providing owners consulting services for, and our teams have delivered two fully certified LBC projects: the Bertschi School Science Classroom Addition in Seattle, Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.