Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Building Renovated for Mission Offices Receives Platinum LEED Certificate

By Elliott Wright*

A former local church activities building renovated into office space by The United Methodist Church’s world mission and development agency has received the highest grade a building can earn by the U.S. Green Building Council. 

The 29,000-square foot North Building of the Global Ministries’ complex at 458 Ponce De Leon Avenue in Midtown Atlanta is now certified platinum in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

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A LEED platinum certified building represents the best construction/renovation in terms of site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Global Ministries began in the summer of 2016 to re-purpose much of the property of Atlanta’s Grace United Methodist Church, developing a mission center to house administrative offices and training space that was originally in New York City, where the agency was located for almost 200 years. While the board purchased the whole of the Grace property, including the sanctuary, the church’s worship and community-based ministries continue onsite.

“We are indebted to our consulting team for its sensitivity to environmental and health considerations, and the actions of project manager Jim Winer in directing us toward LEED guidelines,” said Roland Fernandes, Global Ministries’ chief operating officer and treasurer, who had front-line responsibility for the renovation. “The building had been unused for some years and required extensive abatement of asbestos and a complete infrastructure refitting.

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“It was an opportunity to go to basics to assure that the building exemplifies our church’s commitments to the environment as part of God’s creation and to healthy surroundings for our employees.”

“Global Ministries' LEED certification demonstrates tremendous leadership in environmental sensitivity,” said Brandon Jones, principal of Ecoworks Studio and Project LEED administrator. “LEED was set up to make the world a better place, to revolutionize the ‘built’ environment by providing healthy, green, and high performing building.”

LEED has four levels of green certification: certified, silver, gold, and platinum. Certification can be awarded to buildings, homes, or communities that are designed, built, maintained, and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

The south building, which adjoins the Grace sanctuary, is connected to the north by a newly renovated second story passage and will eventually provide space for the Center for Mission Innovation and the communications and fundraising unit of Global Ministries. A reception area, training rooms, and space for a community food program are already operational in the south building. A LEED grade for the south structure will be considered when renovation is farther along. The south structure was built in 1967 and has a total of 42,000 square feet. The Grace sanctuary was constructed in 1922, with transepts added in 1953 and a current seating capacity of 850.

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“Our concerns for the health of staff members and for the environment were foremost in our decision to follow LEED guidelines in our renovation,” said Thomas Kemper, the Global Ministries chief executive, “and that is buttressed by the goals and values in the theological movement associated with the renewal and protection of God’s creation.” The United Methodist Church is one of several denominations involved in this movement.

In 2009, United Methodist bishops pointed the way in a pastoral letter on “God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action.” Reduction of the carbon footprint of church facilities has become a part of the emphasis. “Global Ministries is anxious to do its part for the environment and health as we reconfigure and update the property we utilized.” Kemper said.

LEED goals are also in line with those of EarthKeepers, a grassroots effort of United Methodists who are aware of and responsive to ecological challenges in the modern world. Global Ministries encourages and provides training for EarthKeepers and hopes to equip 500 individuals for this ministry.

*Elliott Wright is information consultant for Global Ministries.