Virginia Beach Convention Center finds that its design is environmentally friendly

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by Heather B. Hayes

The Virginia Beach Convention Center has met the requirements of the Virginia Green program, the first convention center in the state to do so. Now officials are considering going after certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

“Some convention and meeting planners are now including green facilities as one of their primary selection criteria,” says Courtney Dyer, the facility’s general manager. “We’d like to be able to compete for that business.”

The convention center’s design included technologies for energy efficiency, indoor air quality, water conservation and other sustainability issues. But Dyer admits that going after green certification wasn’t initially a focus for the 500,000-square-foot facility, completed in 2006.

That changed when she saw a presentation by Virginia Green, the commonwealth’s campaign to promote environmentally friendly practices in the tourism and hospitality industry. “They gave me a checklist and I’m looking at it and checking things off, and I thought, ‘Wow, we’ve got a lot of good stuff here.’”

That good stuff included glass on the building exterior that restricts radiation while pulling in solar energy; automated controls and motion sensors that manage heating, cooling and lighting; and a weather station on the roof that monitors rainfall in helping to control the irrigation system.

To meet the Virginia Green requirements, Dyer instituted a comprehensive recycling program as well as a green cleaning program. In anticipation of pursuing LEED certification, the convention center has joined Energy Star as a partner. “That makes you even more aware of and more particular about how you’re operating the building,” says Dyer.

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