The EarthCraft Awards returned this year with a fresh take on what makes an EarthCraft project great. Developed in 1999 by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association (Greater Atlanta HBA) and Southface, EarthCraft is the Southeast’s standard for green building – pairing building science with regional know-how. EarthCraft promotes energy efficient, healthy, comfortable and durable new construction and renovation. The EarthCraft Awards program provides Greater Atlanta HBA and Southface a chance to recognize projects that exceed standard program requirements and shines a light on program partners who continue to make strides in advancing innovation in the green building industry.

Climbing out of the recent recession, green building certification programs, like EarthCraft, have struggled to regain momentum. Today, as the industry rebounds, builders and developers are seeing the value of EarthCraft certification as a marketing edge over the competition. In addition, municipalities are realizing the value of green building standards and third-party verification in creating healthier, more resilient building stock. For example, in 2015 the City of Decatur passed high performance building standards that require all new and major renovation projects in both residential and commercial sectors to be built to green building certification standards, including EarthCraft, the National Association of Home Builders Green Building Standard, LEED or Green Globes. Since the ordinance passed less than a year ago, 16 single family homes have registered with five certified so far.

Southface has seen an uptick in attendance of our EarthCraft House Builder course, a pre-requisite for building certified EarthCraft projects. Seeing attendance and demand for this class spike from this year to last signals added interest in and commitment to the EarthCraft program. Southface is pushing the market to realize and take advantage of that momentum by reintroducing the EarthCraft Awards. Robert Reed, Southface Director of Residential Community Services stated, “The return of the EarthCraft Awards recognizes the surge in the industry to pre-recession levels. We felt it was important to commend the strong example that these projects and this brand represent in the world of high performance buildings.”

The 2016 EarthCraft Awards were presented on October 21 at Southface’s Eco Office.

  • Century Craft was awarded Partner of the Year due to their close work with Southface on a pilot study for Decatur’s High Performance Building Standards. Started in November 2015, these standards require all new residential and commercial buildings to be certified under an existing green building program, like EarthCraft.
  • Loudon County Habitat for Humanity received the award for single family builder/developer of the year after certifying 15 homes this year alone. The Habitat Homes align with Southface and EarthCraft’s vision of healthy homes for all.
  • Walton Communities won the award for EarthCraft Multifamily Builder/Developer of the Year for consistently exceeding expectations with over 480 certified units, walkable quality product and commitment to the EarthCraft program.
  • Emory Point was the clear winner for Project of the Year after receiving three EarthCraft certifications: Communities, Light Commercial and Multifamily. Southface worked on the Emory Point development with Gables Residential and Gilbane Building Company.

High Performance Awards celebrate outstanding EarthCraft projects that achieved the highest level of performance in their respective programs.

  • EarthCraft House: McKinney Builders for a Platinum certified home at Serenbe, 267 points
  • EarthCraft Multifamily: McLain & Brown Construction Company, Inc. for The Gardens Apartments in Young Harris, Georgia, 141 points, water savings of 1,428,070 gallons per year
  • EarthCraft Renovation: Southern Estates Group, Inc. for a Platinum certified home in Atlanta, Georgia, 222 points, reduced air infiltration by 38 percent
  • EarthCraft Communities: Prestwick Construction and Prestwick Development for the Manor at Broad Street – this Fairburn community combined accessibility, transit orientation and walkability into an affordable high performance community
  • EarthCraft Light Commercial: Tower Construction for Lillie Moreland Dyar Complex – certified Gold, it achieved 50 more points than average Light Commercial projects
  • EarthCraft Sustainable Preservation: PV Heating & Air for The Wren’s Nest – this iconic building made huge strides in energy performance, combining Sustainable Preservation with the Community Foundation’s Grants to Green program

Design Awards celebrate success in the field of high performance design. These projects combine efficiency, appeal and functionality in exceptional design schemes.

  • The Design Award for Excellence was given to Imery & Co., LLC for their combination of affordability and sustainability. This affordable home achieved EarthCraft Platinum, ENERGY STAR and DOE Zero Energy Ready Status.
  • The Design Merit Award was given to Abe Kruger for his “Green on Gift” home – the energy efficiency of the 840 square feet home was drastically improved by insulating the roofline, crawlspace and exterior walls. The Beacon energy model estimates that the renovation will reduce energy consumption by 53.1 percent while saving $1,235 annually. This is particularly noteworthy because the eight year old heat pump and water heater were reused.
  • The Design Merit Award was also given to Elemental Green Homes, LLC for whole-house renovation that received an EarthCraft Platinum certification. This 1920’s duplex integrated holistic sustainability strategies to improve the comfort and performance of the home while respecting the aesthetics and charm of the original building. Technical details and very energy efficient equipment paired with reclaimed materials makes this renovation noteworthy.

Southface would like to thank all of its hardworking EarthCraft builders, developers, partners and technical advisors. Congratulations to all of the award winners on impressive work.