First Congregational Church - UCC | U.S. Green Building Council
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LEED BD+C: New Construction v3 - LEED 2009

First Congregational Church - UCC

105 Courtland Street
Atlanta, GA 30303
United States

LEED Gold 2012

The educational component is ongoing and important. Educating members to use public transportation, turn off lights, be cognizant of HVAC programming, etc. People feel that walking to church is now a thing to do because it creates a sense of community and reduces fossil fuel usage.


Considering the First Congregational Church-United Church of Christ (FCC-UCC) has such a strong legacy and historic connection with the city of Atlanta, it's only fitting that the church continues their tradition of being on the forefront of doing what is right for the greater good. The First Congregational Church started as a school by the American Missionary Association after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation; the school was started in 1865 to help educate recently freed slaves. The First Congregational Church was founded by freed slaves and white missionaries in the school’s chapel two years after the school opened. In the late 19th Century, the church was the largest and most progressive African-American congregational church the nation. In 1908, the congregation rebuilt a new structure and moved into the current facility in 1909, where Booker T. Washington gave the church's groundbreaking speech. Filled with modern amenities of the time (a gym in the basement, a place where girls could learn to type, etc.), President Theodore Roosevelt visited the church in March 1911. One of the most symbolic aspects of African-American progress was the installation of the Connelly Fountain, a water fountain erected for anyone, black or white, who was thirsty. The religious structure was listed as a historic landmark by the National Historic Registry in 1979. Fast forward to present day, the First Congregational Church-UCC began its “New Legacy Campaign.” The new addition/rehabilitation project consisted of an exterior envelope restoration, new roof, a new three-story, 8,500 sf East Wing, and rehabilitation of the Sanctuary, Balcony, and Fellowship Hall on the Ground Floor and a memorial garden built in the rear. The result is a 25,312 square foot historic building in the epicenter of a bustling major metropolitan city. It is a building with key design elements that position it to be prepared for the future, yet it still embodies the subtle nuances that reflect the richness of its past heritage.


The design approach for the Sanctuary interior was to maintain as much of the original construction as possible while updating several key elements. In doing so, the sloped floor, horseshoe shaped balcony, the use of curved pews and nearly all the stained glass windows were retained, while a glass dome with a skylight above was refurbished. The landscape design of this project is so that the Church uses no potable water for irrigation. instead, it utilizes a back-up 1,500 gallon underground rainwater cistern is used to maintain the new planting.


This divine project originally pursued sustainability best practices and chose to pursue LEED Silver Certification at the construction documents phase. Typically initiating LEED late in the process correlates to higher costs premiums. Contrary to this belief, the overall LEED budget for the project was at a 1% cost premium of the total construction costs . With a team of qualified individuals committed to being good stewards of the community, the project eventually earned LEED Gold.


The project had several unique considerations, one of which was the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) calculation. There are typically 6 full-time daily occupants, but the project had to account for full church services. The First Congregational Church-UCC has approximately a FTE equal to 406 total building users during an average church service. According to the FCC-UCC LEED Project Team Project Highlights, the average project building users = 86.

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Project details
25,312 sf
New Construction - Religious Worship
Urban Core
23 Aug 2012