Savannah International Trade & Convention Center Achieves LEED Gold Certification

The Savannah International Trade & Convention Center was awarded LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings by the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the first convention center in Georgia and one of a handful of U.S. convention facilities to attain a gold level rating.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building rating system for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of sustainable buildings.

“The Savannah International Trade & Convention Center is committed to environmental and social responsibility and has established itself as the first Gold LEED certified convention center in Georgia,” said Sherrie Spinks, SITCC general manager.

She continued, “Not only is being ‘green’ socially responsible and important to our community, it is important to our employees and customers. Many customers request or require that a public facility demonstrate their commitment to the environment. Until this year, we could communicate our commitment to being ‘green’ but we didn’t have any proof. Now we are Gold LEED certified!”

This achievement follows in the environmental footsteps of the SITCC’s sister site, the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, which earned LEED Silver certification in 2014.

Both facilities are managed by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, with SITCC’s LEED accomplishment coming just three years after the GWCCA began overseeing the 17-year-old, 330,000 square foot facility.

Part of the LEED certification rating system involves validating sustainable best practices already in place at a facility and improving in other areas beyond energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction, including internal operations and resource consumption.

The SITCC team, along with sustainability consultants and engineers from Sustainable Investment Group (SIG), undertook the LEED EB: O+M certification process more than a year ago with the goal of tackling sustainability from a comprehensive approach.

During the course of nine months, the team focused on sustainable policy implementation, an ASHRAE Level I Energy Audit and various upgrades achieving a 77 ENERGY STAR equivalent score, earning the building 60 points for LEED for EB Gold certification.

“Convention centers sometimes have difficulty comparing operational efficiencies due to the unique nature of the industry – from event frequency to size or type,” explained Tim Trefzer, LEED accredited professional and sustainability manager at GWCCA.

He continued, “The LEED rating system provided us with a baseline for sustainable operations and maintenance and we at GWCCA and the on-site team in Savannah are ecstatic to have met the stringent environmental criteria of a LEED Gold building.”

During the project’s performance period, sustainability statistics at the convention center included:

·      41 percent of building occupants use alternative commuting options

·      32 percent water use reduction

·      ENERGY STAR equivalent score of 77

·      100 percent of energy usage for 2017 and 2018 is offset by Renewable Energy Certificates (wind power offsets)

·      For recent carpet and ceiling tile replacement, 99 percent of materials purchased (at cost) met sustainability criteria of recycled content and low-chemical materials, and 81 percent of debris generated replacement was diverted from landfill and recycled

·      94 percent of janitorial cleaning and paper products purchased meet sustainable criteria

·      Average mercury content of lamps in the building is 84.25 picograms per lumen hour

Going forward, the GWCCA and SITCC staff will remain committed to making continuous operations and maintenance improvements in an ongoing effort to provide high-performing, sustainable work environments.

“I knew we had an amazing team and being environmentally responsible was always a focus, but I didn’t realize we would achieve a Gold certification on our first application,” Spinks said.

She continued, “I am very proud of our team. We will take the lessons we learned through the process and continue to improve our operations, tracking and reporting to continue our commitment to green.”

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