2015 Winner: Jury Award

A special award created this year to recognize outstanding achievement that falls outside of the other EBie categories.

Who led the charge

Tim Trefzer                    Sustainability Manager, Georgia World Congress Center Authority


Since 2010, Tim Trefzer has overseen environmental sustainability at the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA). He is a LEED Accredited Professional, and holds several leadership positions in both Atlanta-based and national sustainability organizations.


  • Assign a dedicated point person for optimal accountability and efficiency                  
  • Sustainability initiatives require considerable cultural and operational changes; make sure that your project includes a change management strategy

Georgia Conference Center Takes the LEED


When Sustainability Manager Tim Trefzer joined the Georgia World Congress Center Authority to spearhead a LEED certification process, he knew he faced a challenging road ahead. For some buildings, gaining certification can require a Herculean effort; in the case of the conference center, Herculean itself in size, the large, open spaces and 24-hour operation posed serious challenges to its certification goals. 

“Trying to mold the LEED rating system to match our building, which is a behemoth space, is probably the biggest challenge we had,” says Trefzer, noting the requirements weren’t custom-made for convention centers.

The Authority’s first certification attempt, in 2005, had fizzled. “There was no clear mandate for any specific person” to lead the charge, Trefzer explains. That changed in 2010 when the Authority tapped him to put his sustainability experience to work.

Success would give the Center a competitive advantage in an industry he calls “increasingly cutthroat,” in part, by raising its profile among Atlanta’s environmental community. GWCC introduced operational efficiencies, including an upgrade to low-flow restroom water fixtures and an evaluation of the amount of fresh air being brought into the building. With over five hundred air handling units and dozens more rooftop units—it was a monumental task to test, balance and re-test each mechanical unit. Trefzer notes that his team put formalized policies into place and established metrics to track progress. It even created a green cleaning policy that requires all paper and cleaning products purchased by the facility to meet specific sustainability criteria. Paper, for example, must have a certain level of recycled content, and cleaning solvents must contain fewer harmful chemicals. 


"If a building of this size can successfully incorporate sustainable operations, most any other type of building should be able to manage it."


In another step toward greater sustainability, a solid-waste management policy helped to identify different types of material streams generated throughout the building, as well as their points of disposal. As a result of a waste audit, the center improved its waste diversion efforts, which will reduce landfill-bound waste.

Against the odds, the square peg called the GWCC found its way into a round hole, obtaining certification in September 2014. It’s now the world's largest LEED-certified convention center.

CLOSE UP: Georgia world congress center

What did we do?
The GWCCA team incorporated several environmentally friendly practices including low-flow toilets and recycling into the Conference Center’s operations.

Why we did it: 
The Center sought to improve sustainability in the building, gain a competitive advantage and raise its profile in Atlanta’s environmental community.

Our Approach: 
Established environmentally friendly policies and best practices. Carefully scaled LEED building practices to work in a large convention-center footprint. 



  • Received LEED certification in 2014
  • Diverted a total of 602 tons of material from landfills
  • Donated over 58 tons of food to local organizations
  • Achieved approximately 27 percent greater energy efficiency