Coloring the Convention Center Green
To stay environmentally friendly while welcoming 500,000 people each year, the center makes use of a program called Green First, or g1.
Green First includes recycling materials such as plastics, glass, water, and cardboard; reducing bottled water usage; and reusing treated water.
g1 priorities include working with the food service provider to use locally grown products, using low or no-volatile organic compounds in paints and carpeting, and including recycling information in event notices and bulletins.
Debbie Smucker, director of sales and marketing at the convention center, says that the three most important features of the Green First program are public awareness, employee buy-in, and making “greening fun.”
This center is the largest Gold-LEED-certified convention center in the nation. The LEED rating system is a voluntary building certification program that prizes sustainable building and development practices.
Buildings attempt to gain points for certification by through factors such as energy usage during and after construction, water efficiency and innovation in the design process. To achieve the Gold LEED certification, a building must obtain 60-79 points on a 110-point scale.
Smucker said that the most environmentally friendly aspects of the convention center include enhanced natural lighting and natural air, and the reduction of purchased water. In the convention center, which opened in 2003, 75 percent of the entire building is naturally lit.
Although many of the center’s green features are built in, conventiongoers can do their part by keeping to green principles. Smucker mentioned two: to use the proper recycling bins for composting, paper, plastic and glass; and to turn off the lights if you are the last one to leave the room.
The convention staff set the standard by eliminating the printing of traditionally massive delegate workbooks, by eschewing inserts from tote bags and by decreasing the number of promotional items.