By Amber McFarland
Last year, in preparation for our annual Greenprints Conference, the leadership team at Southface considered a provocative notion: what if a simple awards program could transform the market and shape the conversation? Through creative thinking and collaboration, we created such a program and debuted the Fulcrum Awards in March. With a call for “Raising Consciousness, Tipping the Balance,” the Fulcrum Awards was designed to recognize people, programs, buildings, movements, organizations and more that demonstrate excellence in pursing Southface’s vision: a regenerative economy, responsible resources use and social equity through a healthy built environment for all.
Jurors for the inaugural program helped co-create the process for evaluating these ambitious projects. The 2016 jurors were: Jane Hayse, retired Director of Center for Livable Communities, Atlanta Regional Commission; Tim Keane, Commissioner of Planning and Community Development, City of Atlanta; Nathaniel Smith, Founder and Chief Equity Officer/CEO, Partnership for Southern Equity; Flor Velarde, Compliance Officer, Invest Atlanta; and Shane Totten, Director, Commercial Sustainability Services, Southface. As we approach the call for nominations for the second annual Fulcrum Awards program, we checked in with our winners from last year.
Stanton Oaks, an affordable housing development in the Atlanta neighborhood of Peoplestown, was developed by Woda Group and Parallel Housing, Inc. This project excelled in its community engagement processes and ongoing attention to tenant feedback. Investment and ownership that residents had in the early stages of the redevelopment process prompted Nathaniel Smith to remark, “The project shows opportunity to leverage the wisdom and voices of the community. For me, it increased a level of civic engagement and created a relationship between tenants and law enforcement, [and showed that] the built environment really can have the power to bring people together.” Prior to beginning this project, the developers of Stanton Oaks faced the monumental task of relocating tenants temporarily. Woda Group and Parallel Housing, Inc. worked to ensure that all tenants were looked after, that temporary accommodations were suitable for children and even arranged transportation to school. This commitment to their tenants speaks volumes to the level of detail and care taken during the award-winning, LEED for Homes Gold certified project.
The Sustainable Water WaterHub® at Emory University is a water treatment facility that demonstrates the power of public private partnerships. The jury was thoroughly impressed with the project’s dramatic and creative efforts to reclaim and reuse what would otherwise be wasted water. The jury noted the community-wide benefit of the project’s contribution to resilience and resource conservation in an area that has historically been plagued by water issues. Tim Keane said, “The dramatic efforts to reduce water consumption just in themselves are an investment in social equity.” As the first ever WaterHub to be built in the United States, Emory University took a bold step forward to serve as a model for water stewardship. With its ability to provide a redundant, reliable source of water and reduce overall campus water demand, the WaterHub became the centerpiece of Emory University’s district-scale water sustainability strategy. Since its commissioning in the spring of 2015, the WaterHub has enabled the University to reclaim nearly 100 million gallons of campus wastewater for beneficial reuse (as of 12/12/2016). Recognized for its innovation and impact, the WaterHub is now a 14-time award winner from various sustainability, water treatment, planning and engineering organizations.
Kronberg Wall Architects facilitated Iberville Offsites, a revitalization effort for 46 historic and affordable housing units in the neighborhoods of Treme, Seventh Ward and Central City in New Orleans, LA. The jury unanimously felt that the planning and execution of the project were in line with the four criteria and particularly praised the care taken to avoid community displacement. Additionally, the project demonstrates exemplary capacity to revitalize communities through adaptive reuse—both in the amount of energy the buildings save and in the preservation of cultural history and its significance. Completing the project was an accomplishment in itself. This was Kronberg Wall Architects’ third project of this general type, but the first one where every house was historic and under the purview of the National Park Service. Working through the coordination of each individual house with its own set of requirements took a significant amount of time and coordination in order to balance preservation requirements with strict energy efficiency mandates. The impact to the New Orleans neighborhoods is immense. Blighted units are now energy efficient affordable homes for local residents. Kronberg Wall Architects is already working on a fourth project similar to the award winning Stanton Oaks.
The Metro Atlanta Water District’s Water Conservation Plan aimed to integrate strategies for water supply and conservation, wastewater and stormwater into a holistic plan. In addition to the plan’s impact on water use, the jury felt its efforts to increase regional collaboration (comprised of 15 counties and 92 cities) around water quality and supply was worthy of praise. Since the initial adoption of the plans, total water use within the District has decreased by more than 10 percent while the population has increased by more than a million. That’s an incredible amount of water savings! When you look at it on a per capita basis, the decline is even more pronounced: a more than 30 percent decrease in per capita consumption! The Metro Atlanta Water District is working on the second update to the Water Supply and Water Conservation Management Plan. This update seeks to improve efficiencies in the commercial sector as well as take the next steps in residential education and outreach programs. The plan is due to be completed in June 2017.
The four winning projects of the inaugural Fulcrum Awards continue to have a rippling effect on their project teams and communities around them. Southface looks forward to the next group of inspiring projects that will demonstrate excellence in pursing Southface’s vision: a regenerative economy, responsible resources use and social equity through a healthy built environment for all.