Never Stop Making The World A Better Place

Georgia Aquarium is proud to announce we have been granted LEED certification for our most recent expansion, including the gallery Sharks! Predators of the Deep!

Throughout the expansion process at the Georgia Aquarium, sustainability has been at the forefront of design and construction. The project established certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED™ green building rating which is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.

The Aquarium’s Expansion strived to minimize site disturbance through a host of strategies. Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, visitors have access to nearby restaurants, museums, parks, entertainment, and many other nearby services. Visitors can take advantage of public transit by utilizing the nearby light rail or one of the many bus lines (totaling over 200 weekday trips and 252 weekend trips) rather than relying on personal vehicles. The Aquarium also offers bicycle parking and storage to promote healthy living and lessen the dependence on vehicles. There is covered parking for about 85% of the spaces, in effort to prevent the impacts of Heat Island Effect. Heat Island Effect occurs when land becomes hotter than the land around it, due to human activity and dark color surfaces that absorb the sun’s heat. To reduce the heat island effect, the Aquarium installed a white colored “cool roof” and light grey colored concrete.

Many measures were taken to improve the air quality and wellbeing of all occupants and sea life in the new Expansion. Optimal ventilation, efficient filtration systems equipped with MERV 13 filters and Carbon Dioxide monitoring to ensure healthy indoor air was prioritized in the design of mechanical systems. You will also see 10’ walk-off mats at all entryways to limit debris from being tracked into the building. During construction strict practices to minimize dust, debris, and moisture from being trapped inside the building were required. This improved air quality during construction and will continue to provide long-term health benefits to occupants in the Aquarium.  The Aquarium is committed to providing visitors with clean, fresh air and has implemented a no smoking policy in and around the building.

According to the U. S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Commercial and Industrial sectors consume almost 50% of all U.S. energy produced. Much of this energy is wasted due to inefficiencies and human behavior. The Aquarium Expansion is saving 451,034 kWh of energy annually—a 9% reduction in energy use from a baseline building. These energy savings are equivalent to saving 703,052 pounds of Carbon emissions which could be used to power 54 homes use for one year. The building was designed with a well-insulated envelope and minimal windows to promote thermal comfort. Incorporating LED lighting into the project was not only essential to achieve energy savings, but also necessary to provide lighting levels that illuminate the featured sea life while not disturbing their natural habitat.


LEED™ Green Building

The Aquarium cares

Did you know that people spend more than 90% of the time indoors? Yes, this is according to the U.S. EPA and it is for this reason that particular attention to the quality of building materials was given to optimize the health of visitors through indoor environmental quality components. Low-emitting paints and coatings, flooring, and ceiling materials were used to protect the health and well-being of all occupants from airborne toxins that are typically in these products and harmful to breathe.

In aggregate, LEED projects are responsible for diverting more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills and this rate is growing exponentially.  The Aquarium cares about recycling throughout the building as well as during the construction process. A construction waste diversion rate of 75% was achieved during construction. Diverting waste from the landfill is something the aquarium is actively working towards with daily operations. Throughout the aquarium, recycling bins are available for mixed paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, and metals. The staff also collects batteries and electronic waste to ensure they do not enter the landfill stream and contaminate vulnerable ecosystems.

In the U.S., buildings account for 13.6% of potable water use, which is why water conserving plumbing fixtures were selected in the Aquarium, achieving a 34% reduction. This amounts to about 1-million gallons of water saved annually, equivalent to our largest shark tank!

We encourage our visitors to learn more about the benefits of sustainable design and construction.  The Georgia Aquarium is proud to pursue green building certification under the LEED Rating System to ensure that the healthy, resource efficient qualities that were employed at the Aquarium are recognized through third-party certification. More information about LEED can be found at

Visit Today | Georgia Aquarium | Located in Downtown Atlanta, Georgia 155

Did you know?

  • In the United States, 69% of the total community solid waste consists of items such as paper and plastics which can be recycled. Recycling bins for paper, glass, aluminum and plastic are located for staff and guests throughout the Aquarium.
  • Altogether, LEED projects are responsible for keeping more than 80 million tons of waste out of landfills. This rate is growing exponentially. We care about recycling in our building and during construction projects. During construction, our contractors were able to divert more than 75% of the total construction waste.
Visit Today | Georgia Aquarium | Located in Downtown Atlanta, Georgia 7

How we are doing our part:

  • Georgia Aquarium recycles 23 tons of waste annually.
  • During marketing events, Georgia Aquarium uses sustainable bamboo products instead of plastic.
  • The plastic utensils available for guest use in Coastline Café are fully recyclable.
  • Georgia Aquarium supplies all new employees with reusable straws and cutlery order to cut down on waste produced by staff and volunteers.
  • 2019 and 2020 saw the installation of sixteen new water bottle refill stations for guest and staff use, which track how many single-use plastic bottles each unit has saved.
  • During our expansion, strict practices minimizing dust, debris and moisture were required during construction. This improved the air quality during construction and long-term inside Georgia Aquarium.
  • In our bathrooms, water conserving plumbing fixtures save about one million gallons of water annually. That is the same amount of water as our newest gallery, Sharks! Predators of the Deep!
  • Georgia Aquarium’s large-scale filtration system includes multiple water recovery systems that serve as exhibit wastewater treatment plants. Exhibit water is collected, filtered and processed before returning to the habitat, allowing us to retain more than 99.5% of its water volume!
Hidden River Screening 2
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