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Chattooga River District Receives the Gold LEED Certification

On May 22, 2009, the Chattooga River Ranger District employees had cause to celebrate. Not only was this the official opening date to the public of their brand new Ranger District office, but it was also a celebration of a new style of building designed to reduce their environmental footprint. The new administrative office is unlike any other on the two national forests in Georgia. Following are a few of its unique features:

  • Light pollution reduction - all outdoor lights face down thus meeting dark sky requirements
  • Roof color has low reflectivity and is energy star labeled and insulated
  • Xeric landscaping reduces need for watering plants and grass
  • 30% water use reduction in building due to low-water volume toilets
  • 32% reduction in energy cost for the building by installing a geo-thermal system for heating and cooling
  • 75% of the construction waste was diverted from landfill by recycling scrap metal, wood, etc.
  • Regionally produced material used in building (bought local wood, stone, etc) thus reducing haul cost and supporting local economies
  • Low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) materials used in the carpet, paint, and in the composite wood
  • Daylight supplements office lighting for employees thus saving energy. Light sensors brighten or dim lights based on supplemental daylight. Automatic sensors shut lights off after three minutes if no activity is detected. Numerous windows provide not only lighting but also views for employees
  • Underground exterior walls were built using a permanent insulated concrete forming system. This reduces the waste from temporary concrete plywood forms and creates an insulated concrete wall
  • Energy efficient gearless electric traction elevator (without a machine room)
  • Multiple detention ponds retain rain water and allow it to percolate into the ground
  • HVAC systems are equipped with energy recovery units (ventilators and heat recovery wheel
  • Energy efficient water heater

[Photo] A view of the Chattooga River District Office, Lakemont, GAThe Chattooga Ranger District office is the first Forest Service building in the nation to meet the Gold Standard for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The District Ranger was notified on August 24th that the Gold Standard had been issued for the Chattooga Ranger District office building. LEED is the Green Building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED rating system is divided into five environmental categories and one design process. These are: sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy; atmosphere, materials and resources; indoor environmental quality; and innovation and design process.

Regional architect Maurice Hoelting was instrumental in working with District Ranger Dave Jensen, Forest Facilities Engineer Pete LaShoto and Contracting Officer Marcia O’Connor to ensure that the contractor followed all of the requirements for purchasing of local materials and recycling of construction waste. There were countless hours of planning and monitoring to ensure that the office design and construction followed the vision for an environmentally friendly facility.

The Chattooga River Ranger District is located near the small community of Tallulah Falls, Georgia within Rabun County. The office is located on national forest property which was donated to the U.S. Forest Service by Georgia Power for the specific purpose of building a new office within the community. It is ideally located for residents and visitors to the community since it is centrally located along the U.S. 441 corridor. Representatives from Georgia Power, Rabun County Economic Development Authority, Rabun County Chamber of Commerce, and Rabun County Commissioners all worked together to ensure that the Forest Service presence would be maintained in the local community where the office had been located for more than 80 years. The donation of this 10 acre parcel of land is roughly valued at $300,000.

The Chattooga River Ranger District employees are committed to reducing their environmental footprint. The district green team has implemented new energy reduction and waste reduction measures on the district. District employees recycle aluminum, plastic, paper, and cardboard and take these items regularly to the community recycling center located across the road from the office. Employees also recycle batteries using the big green box and use other paper reduction practices.

For additional information about the LEED certification system, please visit the following website for the Green Building Council: http://www.usgbc.org