Recycling is a standard operating procedure at the Atlanta History Center. Bottles and cans dispensed during events, from meetings to weddings, are recycled, as are plastic cups (themselves recycled from corn). Office supplies such as copier paper, envelopes, poster board, newspapers, and magazines are as recycled well. Our Goizueta Gardens staff is launching a composting program where produce scraps from the Souper Jenny café will be blended with shredded leaves from the Atlanta History Center’s grounds as well as farm animal bedding materials. The compost will be amended to fields and soil for new plantings across the 33-acre campus.
Goizueta Gardens’ composting program makes the most of our site’s organic waste streams. Gardens staff members collect produce scraps from our campus café, Souper Jenny, and blend them with shredded leaves from our grounds and bedding from our farm animals. This dynamic brew breaks down into a rich amendment perfect for working into farm fields and new plantings all over our campus.
Within the Goizueta Gardens, we focus on pest prevention by building healthy soils and cultivating plants that are well-suited to our environment. Our staff inspects our collections daily for signs of pests and disease, monitoring existing problem areas and constantly reassessing the best intervention strategies. We use physical controls wherever possible, reserving judicious use of chemical controls as a last resort.
IPM helps us keep our plants healthy while maintaining a healthy environment, all while reducing expenses. As members of the Sentinel Plant Network, our staff members are trained in early detection of high consequence plant pests and diseases. To learn more about scouting and reporting high-consequence pests, check out the First Detector program of the National Plant Diagnostic Network.
Having a green footprint is a priority for the Atlanta History Center. In 2017, the Atlanta History Center received the MVP Award in the Entertainment category in the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative championed by the City of Atlanta that encourages the city’s commercial buildings to lower energy and water usage by 20 percent by 2020. In addition, three of our buildings were recognized with Top Performer awards by the Better Buildings Challenge: the Swan House for energy and water conservation, McElreath Hall for water conservation, and the Parking Deck for energy conservation. Also last year, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s Grants to Green program awarded an implantation grant to the History Center for energy upgrades to McElreath Hall.
The awards recognize changes to a variety of facilities across the Atlanta History Center’s 33-acre Buckhead campus, as well as at Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown. The energy and water-saving efforts date to 2012, when the Atlanta History Center was awarded a Grants to Green Assessment Grant. Upgrades and improvements to heating, ventilation, lighting, air conditioning and more have resulted in an annual energy reduction of nearly a quarter, with the Atlanta History Center directing saved dollars into exhibitions, school programs, initiatives and events central to our core mission.
Much work has gone into ensuring that the Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building will be a suitable showcase for the 130-year-old The Battle of Atlanta painting, one of the city’s most treasured historic artifacts, when the structural addition opens in 2018. At the same time, important attention has also been paid to a green strategy to ensure the sustainability of the building itself. Rising at the corner of West Paces Ferry Road and Slaton Drive in Buckhead, the building will be outfitted with energy-efficient HVAC equipment, LED lighting, and recycled materials. More than 1,000 tons of crushed stone will enable the Atlanta History Center to create a below-grade drain around the entire rotunda housing The Battle of Atlanta. As part of the project, the Atlanta History Center is adding drainage/retention pits and bioswales (a drainage course with gentle sloped and vegetation-filled sides) at the nearby Smith Family Farm to help capture and filter runoff. Also, a 5,000-gallon cistern near the front of the Atlanta History Museum is being added as part of Cyclorama construction, allowing, for the first time, the use of runoff storm water for irrigation.
Our twenty-two acres of gardens and woodland provide an abundance of habitat for pollinators, the flowers that bloom throughout the year, with an emphasis on Georgia’s native plants. We are very strict in our use of pesticides, in accordance with our IPM strategy. One of the best butterfly and other pollinator viewing sites is the wildflower meadow adjacent to the Wood Family Cabin in Swan Woods, planted with Georgia Piedmont natives that include Monarch larval host plants and favorite flowers to support our two honeybee hives.
The Goizueta Gardens are an oasis in the city for Atlanta’s wild fauna. We are registered as a Wildlife Sanctuary by the Atlanta Audubon Society and host their bird walks several times a year. So far we have counted over 60 different species of birds. In addition to numerous pollinating insects, we are now surveying the variety of amphibians and reptiles here including salamanders, lizards, turtles, toads and frogs. Occasionally we are visited by deer, rabbits, foxes, raccoons and other mammals. For the sake of our wildlife, our gardens, and the welfare of our visitors, we request that no dogs be brought onto the campus, with the exception of service animals on a leash.