LEED Certification at U.S. Convention Centers Ticks Up

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The Seattle Convention Center's Summit Building has recently earned LEED-platinum certification.
The Seattle Convention Center’s ballroom at the Summit building, which recently earned LEED Platinum certification.

The Seattle Convention Center Summit building has been designated LEED Platinum, the highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

As planners look to achieve sustainability goals, major U.S. convention centers are building and renovating facilities with significant green and sustainable features. Currently, many of the largest convention centers in the U.S. are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, with additional certifications pending. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED rating system identifies healthy and highly efficient green buildings and includes several categories of building types: new construction, interior fit outs, operations and maintenance and core and shell. Ratings are based on a point system with three levels: silver, gold and platinum.  As LEED evolves, the bar is pushed higher.

LEED Platinum and Gold

A few convention centers lead the way with the highest level of certification, LEED Platinum. Most recently, Seattle Convention Center’s (SCC) 1.5 million sq-ft Summit building earned Platinum certification for new construction. Among the green initiatives:

  • Reclaimed wood from the building that previously occupied a corner of the site, an automobile dealership, was repurposed as railings throughout the building.
  • Rainwater is captured in tanks, filtered and used for landscaping irrigation as well as toilet flushing.
  • The lobby and pre-function areas feature a hybrid radiant heating & cooling system. Water pipes in the floors provide cool circulated water to absorb the sun-generated heat during warmer months and, conversely, circulate warm water to generate heat in the cooler months.

Moscone Center in San Francisco holds LEED Platinum for existing building operations and maintenance for the entire 504,000 sq-ft campus. Sustainability practices here include the largest rooftop solar array in San Francisco, treating over 15 million gallons of groundwater for reuse in plumbing, landscape irrigation and street cleaning and diverting nearly 2 million pounds of waste annually, including a food composting program that captures all organic material from food service operations.

Among the many sustainability initiatives at The LEED Platinum certified Oregon Convention Center is a comprehensive waste diversion program ensuring that the material brought into the building can be recycled, donated, or taken back by the company that produced it. This is achieved by extensive waste recycling, composting, and food and reusable material donation programs, working in partnership with many local nonprofit and community assistance organizations.

LEED Gold certified convention centers include the Los Angeles Convention Center; Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.; Huntington Place, Detroit; Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA; Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans; Orange County Convention Center, Orlando; Colorado Convention Center, Denver; Georgia World Conference Center, Atlanta; San Diego Convention Center; George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston; The Venetian Convention and Expo Center, Las Vegas; and The David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh.

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