ATLANTA — (AP) — It’s not too often that tours of new buildings start with the toilets. But they’re a big part of a different kind of building in Atlanta.
And so, Shan Arora, who oversees Georgia Tech’s Kendeda Building, troops visitors pretty quickly to a ground floor bathroom where the toilet begins to hum, and then foam. There’s no conventional flushing, with the toilets consuming only a teaspoon of water per use. And the waste is composted in digesters in the basement instead of being piped to a treatment plant.
“We say there’s a lot of potty talk in the Kendeda Building,” Arora said.
Georgia Tech is announcing on Thursday — Earth Day — that the building has won certification as the 28th “living building” worldwide. That means the building has proved over a year of operation that it meets the standards of the International Living Future Institute that it does more good for the natural environment than harm.
“Sustainability gets us to a point where we’re not doing as much damage as we are,” Arora said. “But we’ve already done so much damage that we have to get to a point where we’re regenerative or restorative.”
Paid for by a $25 million donation from the Kendeda Fund, the building is, above all, a demonstration project. It’s meant to show that the technology is ready for wider use, especially in a southern environment.
The Kendeda Fund is the private philanthropic arm of Diana Blank, the first wife of Home Depot cofounder Arthur Blank. It also provided $5 million more for programming, to ensure the building gets used to its highest potential.
“Kendeda’s goal was not really to build a building,” said the foundation’s sustainability advisor, Dennis Creech. “Our goal was to be a catalyst for changing how buildings should be designed.”
More than 5,000 people toured the building while it still was under construction. Creech said it will be impossible to track all the “ripples” from the building, but said he knows of two or…