Friday, November 11, 2011

Green Investment in Convention Center Yields Returns


Dr. Aurora Sharrard
Director of Innovation
Green Building Alliance
(412) 431-0709 x6002

Smart Investment in David L. Lawrence Convention Center Yields Returns

Two-Year Study Examines Building from Every Angle

Pittsburgh, PA — (November 10, 2011) One of Pittsburgh’s hallmark green buildings, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (DLCC) has garnered national and international attention and acclaim for Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. When it opened in 2003, the DLCC was the world’s largest green building and the first LEED certified convention center in the world. That achievement changed green buildings locally and nationally, so much so that the DLCC now operates in a very competitive green convention market.

Constructed with public money and owned by a public authority, the DLCC takes its LEED certification seriously – and has not rested on its original achievements. In an almost 2-year process, Green Building Alliance (GBA) led a local project that analyzed the DLCC’s green features, performance, and operations, past, present, and future. Started in 2009, this building operations and performance case study was primarily funded by The Heinz Endowments, with support from the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

“By systematically analyzing the costs and benefits of the DLCC across a wide variety of considerations, we’ve helped the DLCC continue to be a pioneer for green buildings everywhere. This study validates that upfront investment in and integration of green building design principles and practices have economic and environmental benefits that translate to building occupants in a wide variety of ways,” said Dr. Aurora Sharrard, GBA’s Director of Innovation. “This study also provides a road map for other buildings that aspire to higher performance in a way that gathers data and builds capacity for ongoing improvement.”

The DLCC case study project team was led by evolve environment::architecture (evolveEA) in conjunction with CJL Engineering; the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University; and Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc. GBA, the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County (SEA), and SMG were also integral to the process. The DLCC is owned by the SEA and is operated by SMG, which manages event venues all over the world.

Christine Mondor, owner at evolveEA summarized the report as follows, “Studies show that ongoing operations create over 80% of a building’s lifetime environmental impact, yet building operations are often underemphasized when we think about green buildings. This ‘building in operation’ study illustrates that the DLCC is an excellent example of a building whose smart design leverages efficient operations. It is also a great story of what can be achieved by an operations team that looks for constant improvement.”

The report previewed today evaluates the performance of the DLCC, benchmarks it against other convention centers, and provides recommendations to improve operations and how the DLCC markets its efforts to prospective meetings and conventions. Study highlights include that 38% of DLCC revenues since 2006 have come from green-seeking events, which brought approximately $144 million in direct spending to the region. The DLCC is operating more efficiently than initial energy models predicted, and is a leader in water use, waste source reduction, and overall occupant satisfaction

“The SEA is proud to be the owner of Pittsburgh’s most recognizable green building—and to be able to collaborate on this in-depth study about the DLCC’s performance. The process alone was helpful for us in continuing with our mission to create venues that benefit Pittsburgh's economy and improve quality of life,” stated Mary Conturo, SEA’s Executive Director. “The results of this study will help the DLCC continue to save money and improve its performance. The DLCC exemplifies the sustainable design, construction, operation, and performance that SEA tries to incorporate in all of our projects.”

The final report will be available for public review by Friday, November 18, 2011, at

Green Building Alliance (GBA) is a nonprofit organization that advances economic prosperity and human wellbeing in Western Pennsylvania by driving market demand for green buildings and green building products. Funding for this project was provided by The Heinz Endowments and the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The Heinz Endowments support efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.
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