Doing It Backwards: Using Mandatory Building Performance Metrics to Drive Pedagogy

Joshua Gassman, Lord Aeck Sargent
Todd Mowinski, Newcomb & Boyd

It is not very often that large research institutions set out on the journey to design and construct a building in advance of identifying the likely users and even less common for this type of project to come to fruition without making such identifications during the programming phase. The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design (Kendeda Building) is one of these rare buildings. The user selection process, which did not identify user groups for this building's 4 teaching labs until after construction had started, ended up using the high-performance metrics for the building's water and energy use to identify the users.

The Kendeda Building at Georgia Tech is seeking net positive energy, water and waste as well as Living Building Challenge 3.1 Certification as mandated project goals. It is a 40,000 gsf project made up of teaching labs, maker space, student commons and classrooms. In the mindset of Georgia Tech's Quality Enhancement Plan, 'Serve Learn Sustain,' the project will demonstrate the most advanced measures of sustainability possible in the current built environment. The success of the Kendeda Building is not limited to one building. Instead, to succeed is to ensure the project is replicable in terms of cost, materials, and technologies across campus and throughout the US. This project will not only be a learning facility, but a facility to learn from. The project is currently in Construction and is expected to be complete in Summer 2019.

This presentation will look at the programming process and energy and water saving strategies the building used to achieve the stated net positive goals, and what that was like without a user group to collaborate with. We will then explore the process of reverse programming the building after the user groups were identified. We will highlight challenges, such as limiting materials due to LBC Red List restrictions, as well as successes, such as asking the Ecology group to re-invent the way they teach so that they use less water and could conform to the building's already established water use requirements.

We propose that this presentation is part of an on-going series that tracks the progress of the project, including post-occupancy evaluations to validate both building efficiency measures as well as pedagogical changes that focused on reduced resource use.

Learning Objectives

  • be able to understand how to evaluate the use of energy in buildings and what strategies may be available to reduce that use;
  • learn about measurement tools for accessing building energy performance and water use during design and after occupancy;
  • gain an understanding of the energy use and water use in laboratories and understand the strategies available to Owners and Design teams to help make buildings more efficient; and
  • learn how the early design and programming process can impact overall energy use and be able to select strategies for reducing it.


Joshua is Sustainable Design Director at Lord Aeck Sargent. During his career he has led a broad spectrum of projects, ranging from research labs for major universities to interpretive and education centers. He has worked extensively on projects involving net positive water and net positive energy. Most recently, he has led the Design Team for the Kendeda Bldg at Georgia Tech, which is seeking full Living Building Certification.

With 20 years of experience in mechanical engineering design, project management, and partner-in-charge responsibilities on more than 200 facilities, Todd has particular expertise designing energy efficient buildings. He has presented to international conferences on sustainability in HVAC design and has also published on the topic.


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