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Forest services green building gets gold award
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U.S. Forest officials in Georgia have gone gold — er, green.

A new office building for U.S. Forest Service rangers in Rabun County is the first Forest Service office in the country to receive the gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

The Gold LEED certification is the second-highest rating given to buildings by the Green Building Council for newly constructed buildings that have been designed with energy-saving features and constructed with less waste.

"We felt like this was an important thing to do," said George Bain, forest supervisor for the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests in Georgia, in a statement released by the forest service. "When you look at the impacts that buildings have on our environment, it is significant."

The office for the employees of the Chattooga River Ranger District was built with materials purchased from regional suppliers and has multiple features to save water and electricity.

The building features a geothermal system for heating and cooling, an energy-efficient water heater and light sensors that brighten or dim the interior lights based on the amount of daylight coming through the window, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The building uses less water than traditionally built structures because it has low-flow toilets and the landscaping around the building was designed to require little water.

In a statement, Bain said he plans to construct future forest service buildings using energy-efficient materials and practices.

"I hope this is just the beginning for us," he said.