Whitaker Building

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2005
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Whitaker building

Fast Facts

Address: Savannah, GA
Company/Developer: Melaver, Inc.
General Contractor: MFI Construction
Property Type: Historic
Square Feet: 10,000 square feet
Height: 2 stories

Building Description: The Whitaker Building is a mixed-use, historic renovation project located in the heart of downtown Savannah. This project is the first LEED-Certified building in Savannah, receiving a Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in Winter 2004. The challenge of balancing the historical integrity of the building with the sustainable practices in LEED resulted in a wonderful historic renovation that is 40 percent more energy and water efficient than a comparable new building built to code.


The first renovation of a building on the National Registry of Historic Places in the Southeast to receive LEED certification, this circa 1891 structure is now a fully leased building that combines technology and heritage.

The tax credits, 100 percent occupancy with long-term leases, reduced operating costs and competitive rate of return all translate into economic success for Melaver, but the developer uses a three-prong approach to evaluate its bottom line—balancing economic, environmental and social considerations.

Balancing History and the Future

During construction, historic preservation standards required by the Department of Interior were sometimes at odds with LEED standards. For example, historic guidelines required windows to look like their original design, which posed a challenge to energy efficiency. The design team located an energy-efficient pane that preserved the original appearance while offering 72 percent less ultraviolet light transmittance. Creative approaches like this allowed the building to meet Silver LEED certification and earn the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2004 award for Excellence in Rehabilitation.

Green Features

Sustainable Sites

  • Accessibility to public transportation, including 12 bus routes.
  • Bicycle storage and changing rooms for 17 percent of the regular tenant base.
  • Energy Star TPO roofing membrane on 100 percent of roofing area.
Whitaker building hallway

Extensive daylighting, energy efficient light fixtures and significant material reuse helped contribute to the LEED Silver Certification.

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Air quality that meets ASHRAE 62 standard.
  • Outdoor air introduced at .2 cfm/SF on the retail level and 20 cfm/SF on the office level.
  • Air change effectiveness rate of .9.
  • Smoking prohibited in the building and within 50 feet of any entry.
  • Use of low VOC paints and wheatboard cabinetry that does not use ureaformaldehyde as a binder.
  • Chemical storage in a separately ventilated area.
  • Use of Green Seal approved cleaning products.
  • Two percent daylight factor in more than 75 percent of all space occupied for critical visual tasks.
  • Direct lines of site to perimeter glazing in 95 percent of regularly occupied spaces.

Water Efficiency

  • Dual-flush toilets, low-flow showerheads, low-flow faucets with aerators and tankless water heaters contribute to a 39 percent decrease in water use compared to conventional buildings.

Energy and Atmosphere

  • Insulation above the roof deck.
  • High efficiency HVAC units.
  • Dual-ballasted T-8 lighting.
  • White roof to reflect heat.
  • CFC reduction in HVAC equipment.
restaurant in the Whitaker building

Spectrally selective glass and a highly efficient HVAC system are some of the features contributing to the 40 percent savings in electricity.

Materials and Resources

  • 100 percent of the structural shell reused.
  • 50 percent of internal elements reused.
  • 85 percent of the existing wood floors refurbished, with the remainder coming from another Savannah-based deconstruction.

Innovation and Design Process

  • Green property management practices that encourage green maintenance.
  • Student tours on sustainable design.