This study was commissioned by the Heinz Endowments in tandem with the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (DLCC) in Pittsburgh, and led by evolveEA as part of our Building in Operation Case Study for the DLCC. The purpose of the benchmarking study was understanding how increased demand for sustainability has affected the industry. The study’s focus is on the actions individual facilities are taking to address these demands while increasing their overall performance. We have gathered this information with the intention of sharing best practices and understanding the influence of sustainability in decision making at the facility level.
The survey was administered from October 2010 through February 2011. Over 70 facilities were invited to participate in the process, with 14 thoroughly completing it. Many of the cohort participants were targeted because they publicly promote sustainability initiatives or policies as important to their operations. The survey was administered in two versions, the full length survey (8 respondents), and a focused survey (6 respondents) aimed at increasing participation. The report comprises the results of both of these versions. As promised during data collection, respondents’ information has been anonymized to protect confidentiality.
As sustainability has become a marketing point for event destinations and convention centers across the country, green buildings have become a mainstay for these institutions, serving as tactile representations of each destination’s commitment to sustainability. This is an inspiring trend, but often these projects are focused on meeting certain rating system thresholds (i.e. LEED) and implementing the most advanced sustainable design systems possible without understanding the full business case or how to sustain the performance of these systems in the long run. After all, this is where the true sustainable value of a green building is realized.
This study gathered specialized knowledge of convention centers and their complex business models. It has identified key market drivers and areas of growth, impact areas, opportunities for improvement, and industry best practices. With evidence showing that convention planners are increasingly demanding green facilities, the study demonstrates how to use sustainability to improve environmental performance, leverage cost savings, and attract more events.
As outlined in the benchmarking report, leading convention centers are:
- Building the business case for sustainability initiatives
- Pursuing certifications such as leed
- Tracking greenhouse gas emissions
- Performing industry benchmarking
- Implementing internal and external communications strategies
- Refining waste minimization
- Implementing sustainable purchasing
- Exploring alternative transportation
- Testing indoor environmental quality