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October 31, 2014

Georgia World Congress Center Named World’s Largest LEED-Certified Convention Center

Earlier this week, the Georgia World Congress Center was awarded LEED Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The GWCC is now the world’s largest LEED-certified convention center, and, with 3.9 million square feet, is also the 14th largest LEED-certified building in the world.

The facility, located in downtown Atlanta, first opened in 1976 with a total of 750,000 square feet. The fourth and final phase of construction of the building was completed in 2002 bringing the total square footage up to the current 3.9 million, including 1.4 million of exhibit space.

Staff of the GWCCA created an internal “sustainability committee” to explore sustainable options for the facility in 2005, with an initial focus on educating staff and implementing a paper recycling program. In 2010, the convention center hired Tim Trefzer as the facility’s first Sustainability Coordinator. With a position solely focused on sustainability, the center has been able to make substantial changes including waste diversion and energy conservation.

“Convention centers have difficulty comparing operational efficiencies because of the unique nature of the industry, whether it is event frequency, size, or type,” Trefzer, who is also a LEED Accredited Professional, said in a statement. “The LEED rating system provides a baseline for sustainable operations and maintenance and we at GWCC are ecstatic to be the largest building of our type in the world to meet these stringent environmental criteria.”

In FY14, the GWCC diverted over 275 tons of single-stream recyclables, 119 tons of organics for composting, donated over 58 tons of food to local organizations, baled over 27 tons of cardboard and diverted a total of 602 tons of material from landfills. The GWCC is a sponsor of the Green Meetings Industry Council (Atlanta Branch), a participant in the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge and a member of the US Green Building Council. GWCC is approximately 27 percent more energy efficient than an average building of similar size and characteristics. 

With its central urban location, recent installation of an electric vehicle charging station, and employee incentives, 47 percent of regular employees have reduced commutes to the building and therefore limit the transportation-related air quality issues by using mass transit, car or vanpooling, compressed work weeks, and telecommuting.

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