More than 15 years ago, a Georgia Tech architecture and urban planning master’s student named Ryan Garvel delivered a thesis statement that would inevitably lead to the transformation of the abandoned railroad lines that once circled Atlanta. His plan for a brand-new transportation network, parks and bike trails may have seemed unfathomable then, but his plans have since turned into a 25-year, $3 billion project, spanning more than 640 acres of land, known as the Atlanta BeltLine.
The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable development project that is now one of the most comprehensive urban design efforts under way in the United States. With project completion expected in 2030, the Atlanta Beltline construction aims to connect 45 in-town neighborhoods via a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, modern streetcar lines and parks—making Atlanta a more sustainable, livable and inclusive place.
To date, the Atlanta BeltLine’s urban design projects have included 22 miles of pedestrian-friendly rail transit, 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of parks, 5,600 units of affordable housing and public art, all built sustainably.
Currently, Atlanta BeltLine sustainability guidelines require compliance with portions of LEED for Neighborhood Development and the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES), ensuring that the Atlanta BeltLine corridor will be built using best practices in green construction.
Examples of current Atlanta BeltLine Sustainability Guidelines requirements:
- 90 percent or more of materials for the corridor must be regionally sourced, in compliance with SITES Credit 5.6.
- All wood used within the corridor must come from nonthreatened tree species, in compliance with SITES Prerequisite 5.1.
- All construction activities must comply with SITES Construction Prerequisites 7.1 and 7.2.
Moving forward, the Atlanta BeltLine will require that all designed parks achieve SITES Silver or Gold certifications—making the Atlanta BeltLine the first public agency in the southeast to require SITES. Enota Park will be the first park under the new standard.
To learn more about the Atlanta BeltLine, visit “The Atlanta Beltline: An Interview with the Principal Landscape Architect” Part 1 and Part 2, on the American Society for Landscape Architects' professional practice networks blog, The Field.