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Our BatchGeo world MAP shows the locations of green architecture, green building and renewable energy projects featured on Solaripedia.

Project

Virginia Beach's Green Convention Center

Credits: ©2010 Virginia Beach Convention Center

Fourteen buildings have been narrowed down from 200 entrants from across the U.S. to compete for using less waste and reducing their energy consumption so they can win EPA's first-ever National Building Competition. (Winner will be decided October 2010.) From a skyscraper in New York City to an elementary school in the mountains of Colorado, these teams from around the country are working hard to slim down their energy use. One of the buildings competing is the Virginia Beach Convention Center that was opened in January 2007 and features recycling, water conservation, and energy efficiency. As a publicly owned building operated by the City of Virginia Beach’s Convention & Visitors Bureau, the VBCC pursues energy efficiency as a means of being a good steward of public dollars and its environment. An Energy Star partner, the center known as VBCC Unplugged, has cumulatively saved over $410,000 in utilities from 2007 to 2009. The VBCC’s efforts included measuring and tracking energy performance, developing and implementing an energy savings plan, and communicating the importance of energy savings and waste reduction to facility staff, clients and the community. For fiscal year July 2008 to June 2009, the VBCC used 49 percent less power, gas and water. This included a savings of 2.2 million kilowatts of electricity and 468,000 gallons of water. In addition to its energy conservation efforts, the VBCC has diverted 79 tons of waste from the landfill to a local recycling center by using recycle containers and dumpsters throughout the facility. VBCC staff is involved at all levels, from shutting off lights and closing doors in unoccupied spaces to educating clients about how they can conserve energy and “green” their convention or event. “Green Building” signs have been placed throughout the Convention Center identifying recycling, programmable lighting and HVAC systems, energy efficient compact fluorescent lighting and low flow faucets and soap dispensers with motion detectors. The center displays OneEarth.org public service announcements on its 360-foot video wall and its in-house caterer planted an on-site herb garden and composts food wastes. The 515,125 square foot VBCC offers ergonomics training for staff; an Environmental Communication Program, which includes an eco-awareness presentation projected onto a 360-foot video wall; and an Energy Management Outreach project.

 

Virginia Beach Convention Center Long View

The Virginia Beach Convention Center was the first convention center in the US to achieve LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings. ©2010 Sally Green

As part of the contest, EPA’s Energy Star Program provided the VBCC with the tools and resources to identify areas for improving energy efficiency and the development of a strategic energy plan. For its part, the VBCC set a goal to reduce its energy consumption by ten percent and established six teams dedicated to the cause:
• HVAC System Review Team

• Kitchen and Concession Area Team

• Computer, Printers, and Peripherals Team

• Lighting and Other Conservation Areas Team

• Promotion and Team Support

• ENERGY STAR Plan Development and Tracking

VBCC is providing some stiff competition to the other 13 contestants. As an ENERGY STAR partner, from February 2008 through January 2009, the convention center used 22 percent less power, conserving more than 2.5 million kilowatts and saving more than $92,000. The building’s gas usage also decreased 40 percent, saving $112,000 in energy costs. Further, the building conserved 3.9 million gallons of water, a 23 percent decrease.

Energy Saving Strategies
Virginia Beach Convention Center has also proved that low-cost and no-cost strategies can achieve energy savings. Steps it used include:

• Programming lighting and HVAC systems to minimize their use during non-peak times

• Discontinuing the use of certain architectural lights unless specifically requested

• Minimizing lighting and ventilation use during vendor load-in and set-up

• Activating air curtains during extreme temperatures or large events

• Utilizing only ENERGY STAR qualified copiers and printers and adopting polices that prefer ENERGY STAR rated appliances

The VBCC’s management team encourages staff to look for additional, creative ways to save energy. Often, these turn out to be simple, low-cost approaches that lead to big savings. For example, the maintenance staff noticed that energy was wasted because the entire convention center was lit and air conditioned during cleaning hours. In response, the cleaning crew reorganized itself into teams working together in one area at a time, rather than individually throughout the building, allowing lighting and HVAC to be turned off in all areas except where the crew is working.

When Virginia Beach unveiled the final completion of this landmark (that cost $202.5 million) Convention Center, it provides a new state-of-the-art facility that offers more than 500,000 gross square feet of space and includes a 150,000 sq. ft. column-free exhibition hall, 28,929 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 31,029 sq. ft ballroom featuring LED lighting. The facility can comfortably accommodate groups for conventions, meetings, weddings, banquets and receptions ranging from just a few people to several thousand.

In May of 2010, the Virginia Beach Convention Center was the first convention center in the country and the largest in Virginia to achieve LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings. The facility was built on the location of the original Pavilion Convention Center, thereby reducing the cost of infrastructure improvements. As part of the construction process, materials were salvaged or recycled from the former facility including steel, copper, aluminum, concrete and cinder blocks, and materials were reused such as asphalt in construction of the new facility.

The convention center is a member of the Virginia Green program which features businesses across the state that utilize green building principles, green operations and maintenance and other sustainable efforts. Virginia Beach now has more than 100 Virginia Green certified hospitality businesses and was Virginia’s first “Virginia Green Destination.”

Steel Construction
In October 2008, the VBCC earned a national 2008 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel award from the American Institute of Steel Construction, chosen from among more than 85 submissions throughout the U.S.. "It's a celebration, in white, light as a feather. A structure which seems to be floating overhead and beautifully detailed," commented judge Lucien Lagrange of Lucien Lagrange Architects, Chicago.

Inspired by the project site adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, the building's design is based on nautical themes and seagoing vessels, using images such as sails, yacht fittings, lighthouses, waves and water. Designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) the steel construction provides strong structural support, employing exposed structural steel elements that are used throughout the convention center as a common, unifying theme.

A monumental steel-framed glass curtain forms the front entry to the center, based on the shape of a wind-filled sail. Visitors walk across wooden boardwalks, hovering over water, to enter the building, where the color of the carpet under foot evokes seaweed, beach towels and sand. The 140-foot steel and glass observation tower is modeled after a lighthouse, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and beach.

Relevant books:
Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery, 2nd Ed
Sustainable Facilities: Green Design, Construction and Operations
Green Building Materials
Green Buildings Pay

View map


Documents

  Virginia Beach Convention Center Sustainability Case Study July 09 (133 kb)

  Virginia Beach Convention Center Sustainability Initiatives (1,589 kb)

  Skidmore Owings & Merrill Sustainability Review1 (4,605 kb)


Resources

Virginia Beach Convention Center LEED Gold Video Link

Virginia Beach Convention Center (Virginia USA)

Energy Star National Building Challenge 2010

Skidmore Owings & Merrill