Midtown News Center

Midtown Buildings Help City Meet Sustainability, Efficiency Goals

Citywide Goal Achieved Ahead of Schedule

Published: 11/07/19

Atlanta met its goal of reducing its energy consumption by 20 percent ahead of its 2020 deadline.

In this era of global climate crises, weather extremes and increasing demand on the energy grid and watershed, creating a more resilient city happens at the block level. In partnership with the US Department of Energy, 450+ buildings in the City of Atlanta (representing over 115M square feet) just reached an important milestone - ahead of schedule - to wring more energy and water consumption efficiency out of their daily operations. Known as the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (ABBC), the local effort is the largest nationally among the roughly 50 cities and counties that are participating. 

All told, the collective work in the City of Atlanta toward a goal to achieve 20% more efficiency in buildings has saved over $380M on operating costs and wiped out greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing more than 540K motor vehicle tailpipes from Atlanta roads for one year. Reducing demand for energy and water has also reduced electricity needs, resulting in improved air quality and better public health outcomes.

“Energy is at the core of economic activity in Atlanta, and when done thoughtfully, a transition to clean energy yields large payoffs for communities,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “We came together to achieve this significant energy reduction milestone two years before the challenge deadline.”

The Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge is a partnership between the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office, Midtown Alliance, Central Atlanta Progress/Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, Southface and Livable Buckhead. The portfolio of buildings committed to the challenge include offices, healthcare, municipal buildings, K-12 schools, universities, hotels, and various other property types.


The Big Benefits of Saving Energy

Originally enrolling in 2011, the City of Atlanta became one of the first participants to commit to the Better Buildings Challenge. Atlanta has since:

  • saved 1.3 billion gallons of water (equivalent to a 30-day supply)
  • created and sustained 654 jobs
  • added $51.63M to the regional economy
  • saved energy to power nearly 150,000 homes for a year  

View the full list of participating property owners here. Energy reduction, such as that achieved through the ABBC, shows how a transition to clean energy with a focus on energy efficiency can advance equity, create tens of thousands of new jobs, and make Atlanta a healthier, more resilient community.


Midtown’s Energy Efficient Buildings Contribute to Citywide Effort

Midtown's buildings did their part to help achieve the ABBC goal — a total of 34 buildings participated in the challenge.

"ABBC represents a great example of how the public and private sector can work together to achieve a common goal," said Dan Hourigan, Midtown Alliance director of transportation and sustainability. "Midtown Alliance is immensely proud of our Midtown participants, who really upped their game by taking aggressive steps to reduce energy and water usage." 

Within the 1.2 square miles of the Midtown Improvement District, there are also 25 Energy Star certified buildings totaling 13M square feet of building space. To be Energy Star certified means a building’s ranks among the top 25 percent of buildings nationwide for energy efficiency. Within the last five years, buildings in Midtown have doubled down on their efforts to qualify for this ranking, with square footage of building space that is Energy Star certified growing 72 percent

Of note, the Memorial Arts building on the Woodruff Arts Center campus - home to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Alliance Theatre - achieved efficiency gains in its water system, from plumbing upgrades to cooling tower retrofits.

Another standout example is at Bank of America Plaza, where a after an irrigation system overhaul, the 3.7 acre site used 64% less water than the legacy irrigation setup.

Partnering with buildings on strategies to achieve more efficiency is an important part of the vision for Midtown Alliance’s EcoDistrict, the Southeast's first, to create a more sustainable environment by optimizing transportation options, improving water efficiency in landscaping and recycling. 


WATCH: Sustainability Snapshot

Learn more about the Midtown EcoDistrict and the many strategies the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta uses to extract more efficiency out of its operations.


LISTEN: ATL's Plan to Get to 100% Clean Energy by 2035

Clean Energy Atlanta is the city’s commitment to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2035; that includes both municipal operations and citywide efforts to assist residents and businesses. This spring 2019 Public Radio International story examines the City's efforts: