Atlanta Housing Preserves the Past While Redeveloping for the Future
The redevelopment of the historic Roosevelt Hall Community Center is a key element of the $30 million HUD-funded Choice Neighborhoods project in Atlanta’s University Center and Vine City neighborhoods. Roosevelt Hall is an 18,000 square foot building that had suffered from vandalism and poor conditions on the inside. However, the structure of the building was good and had great potential for rehabilitation. Construction is underway to renovate this historic building, while paying homage to its important place in the history of this Westside community. The project is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification with key water and energy efficiency features.
The two-story brick building is the last remaining structure of the former University Homes, the first public housing development in the nation for African Americans. Built in 1937 during the Great Depression, Roosevelt Hall was once the central offices and commercial space for the former University Homes public housing project.
In addition to LEED certification for the building itself, with the completion of Roosevelt Hall, Atlanta Housing will also be able to successfully deliver the LEED Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) certification proposed in its Choice Neighborhoods grant application.
Atlanta Housing has placed a significant focus on environmental initiatives in its housing strategies and operations. Atlanta Housing joined the Better Buildings Challenge in 2013, pledging to reduce its portfolio-wide energy consumption by 20% within 10 years. In 2015, Atlanta Housing was one of the first organizations in the city to be compliant with the city’s clean building ordinance.
As part of Atlanta Housing’s sustainability goals and to meet a priority of the Choice Neighborhoods program, the project team set out to achieve LEED certification for Roosevelt Hall. Because preliminary scoring estimates showed the building could potentially achieve LEED Gold certification, the Housing Authority made that its goal.
Roosevelt Hall started with a design charrette led by A/E firm The Epsten Group in December 2019. Atlanta Housing dedicated multiple staff members with different skill sets to work on this project, including executive leadership, design professionals, construction management, facilities management, environmental management, and several others.
By working directly with the firm, costs associated with each proposed enhancement or modification to the design were clearly articulated to Atlanta Housing. Being involved with cost tracking at every step though out the process was a significant advantage for Atlanta Housing.
The energy systems in Roosevelt Hall were designed to optimize energy efficiency, lowering the demand for traditional energy sources. The project’s design and construction teams engaged in commissioning activities to support the design, construction, and eventual operation of the building to meet Atlanta Housing’s project requirements for energy, water, and indoor environmental quality.
The project is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. Key features include a high-efficiency Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC System, LED lighting throughout the building, permeable pavers, and a 15,000-gallon cistern that will collect rainwater for non-potable reuse. The project also features energy sub-meters to support energy management and identify opportunities for additional energy savings by tracking energy use.
By selecting new mechanical equipment that uses R-410A refrigerant and eliminates the use of old CFC-based refrigerants, the building does not contribute to stratospheric ozone depletion. Through energy-efficient design strategies and upgraded HVAC equipment, Atlanta Housing expects to reduce energy consumption by 30%, based on ASRAE 90.1 2010 modeling.
Electric vehicle charging equipment has been installed to enhance the area's vehicle charging infrastructure, which reduces pollution by promoting alternatives to conventionally fueled automobiles.
Roosevelt Hall has implemented innovative design elements to holistically address the building's indoor and outdoor water consumption needs. The project includes a rainwater collection and reuse system that has been designed to mitigate the building's demand on the municipal water supply, which promotes water reuse and conservation and limits the energy use required to treat and transport water in a municipal supply system.
The building sits on a 1.3-acre site. By selecting native plant species for the site and using captured rainwater for irrigation, Roosevelt Hall has eliminated the outdoor use of potable water. The design also includes a new active roof that features raised planters and “green” screen walls – plant covered façades that add shade and beauty to the building.
Using high efficiency plumbing fixtures that reduce water flow at sinks and toilets and rainwater reuse for flushing, Roosevelt Hall expects to reduce indoor potable water use by approximately 65%. The project features water submeters to support water management and identify opportunities for additional water savings over time by tracking water consumption.
The nonpotable water cistern used on site is metered to show the volume of rainwater being captured, with outdoor submeters used to track the volume of nonpotable water used for irrigation purposes. From those two values, the volume of nonpotable water being used for sewage conveyance is also able to be determined. Sub-metering the water leads occupants to be more conscious about the amount of water consumed, as facilities staff and the building owner can monitor usage. Additionally, sub-metering allows facility staff to monitor any changes in consumption that may help identify leaks or other potential failures in the system.
The Roosevelt Hall project is funded in part through a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant awarded by HUD. Together with the city of Atlanta, Atlanta Housing received the grant in September 2015 to support efforts to revitalize the former University Homes public housing site and three residential neighborhoods.
Atlanta Housing also worked with Georgia Power for pre-approval to receive rebates for installation of energy efficiency equipment using the utility’s prescriptive and custom rebate programs. Rebates were approved for Roosevelt Hall’s lighting that is modeled to be 20% more efficient than code. Additionally, Roosevelt Hall’s installation of a high-efficiency VRF HVAC System qualified for a custom rebate.
With this being Atlanta Housing’s first major in-house redevelopment in recent history, the housing authority will be able to compare the building performance with the modeled performance through metered data. If there are discrepancies, Atlanta Housing will troubleshoot as needed. Ideally, the building will perform close to the model and achieve LEED Gold certification, while preserving the architectural and historic nature of the building.
Standard Used to Achieve LEED Gold
LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide
LEED requirements found within BD+C Reference Guide
EPA Water Sense Water Budget Tool
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
SMACNA IAQ Guidelines for Occupied Buildings under Construction, 2nd edition, 2007, ANSI/SMACNA 008–2008, Chapter 3 and ASHRAE Standard 62.1–2010
ASHRAE 90.1–2013 Interior Lighting Power Density Allowance
Energy use is measured in kWh and the savings percentage is derived from energy cost savings. Water use is measured in gallons per year with the savings percentage being the annual water use reduction. Water calculations were completed separately for indoor and outdoor water use and then aggregated to calculate the projected whole building water use reduction.
Tools & Resources
Tool or Resource
Thermal Comfort Performance
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Roosevelt Hall is on track to achieve LEED Gold certification while preserving the historic past of the building. The project is expected to reduce energy consumption by 30% and total indoor and outdoor water use combined by 83%.
Atlanta Housing Authority's Roosevelt Hall Community Center renovation project is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification with key water and energy efficiency features.
Limited knowledge of how to implement sustainability projects and achieve LEED certification within budget while respecting the historical significance of the building.
Working directly with an A/E firm instead of through a developer, allowed Atlanta Housing to be an active participant during the design process.
Atlanta Housing was able to get a better grasp of the benefits and challenges associated with pursuing green certifications and is on track to achieve 30% energy savings, 83% total water savings and LEED Gold certification.