ATLANTA – (Oct. 2, 2017)
By Kent Kimes
Sr. Staff Writer
What better setting to host the World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC) than the world’s largest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified convention center?
The three-day event, sponsored by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), kicked off its opening session Sept. 27 at the LEED Silver-certified Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) with an intimate, candid and often humorous conversation with former President George W. Bush before a rapt audience inside the Sidney Marcus Auditorium.
It was the 43rd president’s second publicized appearance at the GWCC – his first was in 2001 while in office – and the facility’s second presidential visit of 2017. President Donald J. Trump, was a featured speaker at the National Rifle Association’s ILA Leadership Forum on April 28 at the GWCC.
WEEC, the largest energy conference and technology expo in the U.S. specifically for industrial, business and institutional energy users, presented multiple opportunities for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s (GWCCA) downtown Atlanta campus to showcase its energy conservation and sustainability efforts.
- Prior to the conference’s official kick-off, the Authority’s Physical Plant Manager Wayne Rosser accepted the Energy Project of the Year honors at the AEE 2017 Regional Awards Presentations. The Authority was recognized for its Energy Savings Performance Contract (EPC) with Trane, which is expected to reduce the GWCCA campus’ energy consumption by 39 percent annually, and save more than $2.5 million in utility costs in the first year alone.
- The EPC – believed to be the largest for a public assembly venue in the country – also was the focus of a presentation given by Cameron Griffith, solutions advisor for Trane, and the Authority’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Tim Trefzer as part of the conference’s programming block. The pact is a creative financing solution for capital improvements – and another example of the Authority’s commitment to environmental sustainability. It allowed the GWCCA to use future energy and operational savings to finance the infrastructure improvements up front. The agreement is guaranteed, meaning that if the specified reduction in energy is not met, then Trane will pay the GWCCA the difference, reducing the project’s risk. Major aspects of the multifaceted $28 million project included replacement of the GWCC’s central heating and cooling plant in Building B with modern, more efficient machinery, replacing the GWCC’s interior, exterior and exhibit hall lighting, upgrading the facility’s various water features along with lighting upgrades at Centennial Olympic Park. Energy engineers from around the globe took notes during the session and intently asked Griffith and Trefzer various questions as they sought more details.
- WEEC attendees took free tours of the convention center’s facility upgrades that were completed in April as part of the energy savings deal. The tour included the new, perhaps surprisingly colorful, central plant chiller room, which consolidated three separate chiller rooms, and now cools the entire 3.9-million-square-foot convention center. Also, the tour provided an up-close view of the GWCC’s new highly-efficient consolidated boiler room and an overview of the more than 60,000 LED lamps that were installed as part of the energy savings contract’s lighting upgrade.
- The GWCCA campus’ newest kid on the block, the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS), had a chance to tout its game-changing approach to sustainability when stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins spoke during the AEE Georgia Chapter Luncheon, part of the WEEC. MBS was designed to set a new standard for stadium sustainability and the venue is on track to receive LEED Platinum certification.
The GWCC was awarded LEED Silver certification in 2014. LEED is an internationally-recognized green building rating system. The Authority is anticipating receiving an upgrade to LEED Gold status, largely on the strength of the successful energy savings contract with Trane.