2015 Finalist: The Smooth Operator
The most improved building across multiple sustainability categories achieved solely through improved operations and maintenance and/or retrocommissioning.
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
For most buildings, gaining LEED certification doesn’t require a Herculean effort. But in the case of the Georgia World Congress Center, its large, open spaces and 24/7 posed serious challenges 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 GWCCA Sustainability Manager Tim Trefzer, noting the requirements weren’t custom-made for convention centers.
The Authority’s first certification attempt, in 2005, 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 cut throat.” 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. As a result of a waste audit, the center improved its waste diversion efforts and that 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.
"If a building of this size can successfully incorporate sustainable operations, most any other type of building should be able to manage it."
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.
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