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Setting a New Standard: A world-renowned engineering society builds a cutting-edge home on Technology Parkway



Photos courtesy of Ashrae

You may not know what ASHRAE is, but you know its work: the clean and comfortable air we all take for granted inside many modern buildings.

The international professional society’s standards are behind everything from the filtering of airplane cabin air to the energy efficiency of office buildings that mitigates climate change and dependence on foreign oil. Today, it’s a major authority in the COVID-19 fight, penning standards for halting the coronavirus’s spread through HVAC systems that are promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And now ASHRAE is your neighbor, having recently moved into a new $20 million global headquarters on Technology Parkway meant to be a living laboratory for “walking the talk” on energy efficiency.

“We harness the collective wisdom of the world’s experts and bring that wisdom to bear on some of these challenges,” said Jeff Littleton, ASHRAE’s executive vice president, in a recent interview.

Jeff Littleton

ASHRAE (pronounced “ash-ray”) is the easier-on-the-tongue version of the group’s full name, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The society traces its history back to 1894, when a group of heating and air-conditioning engineers convened in New York City. A merger with a society of refrigeration engineers in 1959 produced the current organization.

Today, ASHRAE has more than 55,000 members in around 130 countries. It offers training and professional certifications for those in the HVAC and refrigeration industries, and stages conferences that attract up to 75,000 attendees. It funds research at universities and specialty labs to the tune of $5 million a year.

But ASHRAE’s most influential role is writing industry standards that are taken so seriously, some of them become law. ASHRAE isn’t a trade association designed to promote its industry; it’s a professional society with a nonprofit mission of promoting the public good. ASHRAE’s priority is not what might make your HVAC contractor the biggest paycheck, Littleton said, but what will best ensure “health and human comfort.”

“We have an obligation to serve the public trust,” said Littleton. “… We are a true-blue professional society, and that drives a lot of what we do.”

The energy efficiency of buildings is a major standard set by ASHRAE, whose word has been federal law for decades.

“Back in the 1970s, when the oil embargoes caused oil and gas shortages in the U.S. and lines at gas stations and all that, the U.S. Department of Energy came to ASHRAE and said…, ‘The built environment in the United States is burning too much energy and we need to cut back on that,’” said Littleton.

The result was a regularly updated code for commercial buildings in federal law that has been adopted by many state and local jurisdictions as well. On such standards, ASHRAE goes beyond heating and cooling to virtually every “building technology” related to energy usage.

It’s one of the ways, Littleton said, that ASHRAE is a “really big player in trying to mitigate climate change.” He noted that while motor vehicles are often depicted as the villains of climate change, buildings are major factors: 35% of the world’s final-customer energy use and 40% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, according to ASHRAE.

Last year, ASHRAE responded to another national crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic. “People started calling us [asking], ‘What do we do? What do we do when we find out someone in our 10-story office building had COVID?’” Littleton recalled.

ASHRAE quickly formed a pandemic task force and subcommittees with more than 100 members, including not only industry experts, but also medical doctors and epidemiologists. In some ways, it’s familiar turf for the society, which writes standards for hospital ventilation systems and how to prevent outbreaks of some specific bugs, like the air-conditioning-loving bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

For COVID, the society is regularly devising best practices and rules for preventing the coronavirus from blowing around inside buildings, with everything from air filters to virus-zapping ultraviolet systems addressed. “Right now, we’re developing a … guidance document on outdoor dining because we’re getting requests from jurisdictions that want to get those open as soon as possible,” said Littleton.

While ASHRAE always develops its standards and practices with public input and review, one way it makes money is keeping the final documents exclusive and selling them to authorities and organizations. But not with COVID guidance. All pandemic-related material is free to view and download from the society’s website.

“We certainly don’t want to profit from the fact that the pandemic is going on,” said Littleton. The society finds it rewarding enough that its task force experts “have really risen to that challenge. It’s really had a big impact. … We’re really proud of that work as an organization.”

ASHRAE aims to live up to its own standards. It did so when it moved in 1984 from New York to metro Atlanta, building a high-efficiency headquarters in DeKalb County near I-85 and North Druid Hills Road. That site is now in the young city of Brookhaven and neighboring Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which has a $1 billion hospital project that made it clear it was time to move again. The society looked around for a site to set a new standard with its headquarters — and found it in Peachtree Corners.

Littleton said the attractions were plentiful. Hotels, green space and restaurants for the many visiting students and experts. A “high-tech look” and fellow cutting-edge infrastructure enthusiasts, like the Technology Parkway autonomous vehicle test track.

ASHRAE now calls home an old office building at 130 Technology Parkway that dates to 1978. Instead of tearing it down, the society retrofitted it into a futuristic, hyper-efficient HQ. Its interior is heated and cooled with a “hydronic” system of fluid-filled panels instead of duct-blown air, and by the end of April the site will be studded with solar panels. The goal is a “net-zero-energy” building, meaning it will create as much energy as it burns. In short, ASHRAE is doing what it tells everyone else to do.

“If we, as a society, are really going to reduce the energy consumption in the built environment that contributes to climate change and all of that, we have to deal with existing buildings,” said Littleton. “… So ASHRAE is walking the talk.”

In the society’s public spirit, the building is also an experiment, “a learning lab, a showcase to demonstrate what’s possible.” Eventually the building will have an online dashboard publicly displaying its energy performance to see if it’s living up to its promise.

“A lot of building experts around the world are watching very closely,” said Littleton. “You throw enough money at any building, you can get there. But can we demonstrate that we can do it in an economical way?”

Much of that experiment is on temporary hold in the pandemic, which has already taken the wind out of what was supposed to be a banner year for ASHRAE. In 2020, the society planned to celebrate its 125th anniversary — counting from an 1895 debut annual meeting of its ancestor organization — and to have a major grand opening celebration at the new headquarters. Now health concerns have the society shying away from even a ribbon-cutting, and most of the 110 staff members remain working from home to avoid COVID.

But that, too, shall pass, and ASHRAE is looking forward to enjoying its new home and setting new standards.

“We’re excited to be here in Peachtree Corners. It’s a cool place. It’s got hotels and restaurants and everything close by,” said Littleton. “Working with the folks from the city of Peachtree Corners has been great. They’re very responsive.

“It’s just ironic that we’re not really using the building right now, but it’s going to be really neat.”

For more about ASHRAE and its work, see ashrae.org.

John Ruch is a journalist with SaportaReport and Buckhead.com in metro Atlanta. His freelance work has appeared in such publications as the Washington Post and the Seattle Times. In his spare time, he writes fantasy novels.

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DW1 Unveils New Peachtree Corners Headquarters and Brand Identity



DW1, formerly known as Discount Waste, Inc., has now settled in its office in Technology Park. As Peachtree Corners sees a surge of development, DW1’s move and rebranding stand out.

Situated at 250 Scientific Drive NW, the 45,000-square-foot building has 150 private offices and seven conference rooms. It also has an advanced training room and a “Town Center” designed for company lunches.

Additionally, the space doubles as an art collection that adds character to the workspace.

This move brings together their previous locations at Engineering Drive and Triangle Parkway. It consolidates over 100 employees who have been dispersed since 2019.

The inauguration event took place on September 28, 2023, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Vice Mayor Weare Gratwick, City Councilwoman Lorri Christopher, Southwest Gwinnett Chamber (SWGC) Chairman Bill Diehl and Executive Director Beth Coffey attended the event.

Board members Margie Asef, Larry Benator and Patty Thumann were also present.

Since its start in 1999, Discount Waste, Inc., now transitioning to DW1, has been a provider of waste removal and job site solutions.

Serving a wide range of clients, from general contractors and retailers to commercial establishments, the company has always emphasized strong client relationships and service.

Outside of the business realm, CEO Ed Foye‘s commitment to societal change is evident with All Children, Inc. This initiative focuses on delivering essential resources, such as nutrition, education and shelter, to children with disabilities in developing countries.

To know more about this effort, visit AllChildren.org.

A representative from DW1 shared, “We were thrilled to welcome our employees and their families to the new location on September 28. To learn more about our company’s next chapter, please visit DW1.com.”

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New Retail Concepts Join Merchandise Collection at The Forum Peachtree Corners



As North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate (Nuveen) transform The Forum Peachtree Corners into a mixed-use development, several new businesses are joining the merchandise mix. 

National retailers that signed long-term leases include Lovesac, Petfolk and Stretchlab. Temporary license agreements were reached with Auburn Candle Company, The Baby Nook and Girl Tribe Co.

Meet the retailers

Lovesac – This company designs, manufactures and sells unique furniture that’s guaranteed for life. It offers modular couches called Sactionals, foam beanbag chairs called Sacs and associated home décor accessories, including home audio systems.

Upon opening next to Chico’s in spring 2024, Lovesac at The Forum will be the ninth location in Georgia and fourth in NAP’s portfolio. 

Petfolk – Founded by vets with decades of experience in clinical practice, Petfolk is an animal hospital and pet care center built with pets and their owners in mind. 

Veterinary services include exams, vaccinations, urgent care, nutrition, diagnostic testing, digital radiology and more. 

The Forum location opens this October by Chipotle, marking the brand’s second brick-and-mortar in metro Atlanta.

Stretchlab – Recognized for its customized, assisted-stretch sessions, Stretchlab is a wellness concept specializing in one-on-one routines led by nationally accredited flexologists. 

Using a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) approach, paired with dynamic and static stretching, the team is able to identify tightness and imbalances in the body. They then build a custom routine for each client to develop a wider range of motion and flexibility. 

Stretchlab opens next to Club Pilates at The Forum this winter.

Auburn Candle Company – Established in 2020 and based out of Auburn, Alabama, Auburn Candle Company hand-crafts signature candles and fragrances, free from additives and dyes.

In addition to shopping for pre-poured candles as well as other bath, body and home goods, candle lovers can develop their own creations at the in-store pour bar. 

Its year-long pop-up at The Forum, opening in October, will be the company’s first venture in Georgia.  

The Baby Nook – A haven for anyone seeking baby essentials and gifts, The Baby Nook will feature a select collection of baby items that combine functionality, safety and aesthetic appeal. 

The year-long pop-up will open in October next to Soft Surroundings.

Girl Tribe Co. – NAP is expanding its existing relationship with Charlotte-based Girl Tribe Co. to bring a temporary store to The Forum from October 6 through December 31. 

Created by childhood best friends and co-founders Sarah Baucom and Carrie Barker, the brand offers a collection of clothing, graphic tees, accessories and lifestyle products.

A combination of proprietary products and items made by local female entrepreneurs will be available for purchase in Suite 505, next to HomeGoods. Girl Tribe Co. also plans to host a series of events, workshops and networking sessions during its stay at The Forum.

The Forum’s merchandise mix continues to grow

These forthcoming brands join KeenaBelaGifts We All Want and Go! Calendars, Toys, and Games as the latest additions to The Forum’s tenant collection. 

KeenaBela, an Atlanta-based, eco-friendly sleep, lounge and resort-wear brand, officially opened its year-long pop-up at The Forum last month. 

Additionally, specialty boutiques Gifts We All Want and Go! Calendars, Toys, and Games, have once again returned for the holiday season.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of interest from small, local business owners looking to grow their brands in a low-risk, incubator-style environment,” said Emily Narchus, director of ancillary revenue at NAP. 

“As our leasing and development teams continue moving forward on The Forum’s renaissance, we are excited to play a part in upgrading the center’s retail makeup.”

NAP is nearing completion on the north end plaza and anticipates an early fall delivery of the 1,700-square-foot greenspace. This is the first, and smaller, of two community-driven spaces being adding to the property as part of its overall redevelopment. 

Along with the ongoing retail improvements, renovations to the office lobby in building 5185, anchored by Trader Joe’s, are now complete. 

The Forum has partnered with the Peachtree Corners Photography Club to display and sell winning pieces from its first juried exhibition in the revamped entrance.

To stay up to date on the latest property news and happenings, follow The Forum on FacebookTwitter and Instagram or visit theforumpeachtree.com.

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Waramaug Hospitality Acquires Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners



Waramaug Hospitality, a privately held investment firm focused on select-service and full-service hotels, announced on Aug. 23, it acquired the Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners. 

The 222-room Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners features a fitness center, indoor pool and outdoor fire pit seating area. All meeting and event spaces are equipped for various events, from industry conferences to happy hours and lifecycle events. 

“As the second full-service Marriott Hotel and 16th Marriott-branded property in our portfolio, said Ferit Ferhangil, Principal of Waramaug Hospitality, “we see tremendous revenue growth opportunities for this asset in a thriving market.”

The property, which will now be managed by Aimbridge Hospitality, is located within Technology Park, a regional technology and innovation hub. The 500-acre campus is a destination for technology innovation in the Southeast and home to over 2,300 businesses ranging from tech startups to Fortune 500 companies.

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