W&A Engineering’s Historic Athens HQ Achieves EarthCraft Certification

Staff Report From Athens CEO

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

W&A Engineering has completed the rehabilitation of a 10,000 square foot, 118-year-old mill building for use as its new headquarters. As part of that project, the company pursued EarthCraft Light Commercial (ECLC) FitOut, a green building certification developed by Southface Institute as part of its EarthCraft program. W&A’s certification is the first in Athens and only the second in the Southeast under this category.

Why FitOut?

Southface’s ECLC FitOut certification is targeted for restaurants, shops and offices that move into existing commercial spaces. The flexibility and affordability offered by the program and its goals of energy and water efficiency, building durability and improved indoor air quality complemented W&A’s green building goals and the challenges of rehabilitating a historic building.

Location once housed major jeans manufacturer

W&A’s office building, one of four that make up the Southern Mill complex, was built in 1902 as part of the Southern Manufacturing Company. The facility was home to several different forms of manufacturing throughout the years, but the most prominent was Wilkins Industries. Wilkins Industries bought the property in 1953 and was at one time considered one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of women’s jeans wear.

EarthCraft turns old into innovative

Located in the heart of Athens, adjacent to the Boulevard National Register Historic District, the adaptive reuse project addressed the challenges posed by the building’s age while supporting W&A’s sustainability focus. By rehabilitating a historic building, the firm was able to reuse and recycle a significant portion of would-be construction waste. In addition, the company invested in a 40.7 kW solar system, achieving an average energy offset of 49% and successfully pursued EarthCraft certification.

W&A worked with BNA Architects to design the interior buildout and Grahl Construction as the general contractor to manage the construction. The team worked with EarthCraft Technical Advisor Jeremy Field from Imery Group to complete the project in less than eight months.

The areas addressed as part of the certification process included exterior lighting to reduce light pollution, diversion of 45 tons of construction waste from the local landfill, use of recycled building materials, water management and efficiency, indoor air quality management and pollutant source control, high-performance building envelope, energy efficient building systems (heating and cooling), and energy efficient interior lighting, water heating and appliances.