LEED O+M: Existing Buildings v2.0
Austin Convention Center Dept
Austin, TX 78701
LEED Gold 2011
"A road map for other City departments to pursue LEED certification under the Existing Buildings rating system."
The Austin Convention Center (ACC) is the first convention center in Austin, Texas to achieve LEED Gold certification under the LEED for Existing Buildings rating system. ACC is conveniently located in the heart of Austin, Texas' capital, in the downtown area between the shores of Lady Bird Lake and the historic District Sixth Street. It provides visitor access to a variety of entertainment and cultural options within walking distance.
Constructed in 1992 and expanded in 2002, the convention center stretches over six city blocks and 881,400 gross square feet. It offers 370,957 square feet of meeting space, including 246,097 square feet of column-free exhibit space divisible into five contiguous halls. Ballrooms of all sizes are included in meeting package options. The facility is occupied 365 days a year with 159 full-time employees and approximately 300,000 visitors per year. The LEED project site consisted of the four-story convention center, the ten-story Brazos Street parking garage, and a storm water detention/biological wet pond for a total of 15.83 acres.
In 2007, ACC decided to decrease natural resource consumption and incorporating sustainability into operational practices and to pursue LEEDcertification. In addition to making the Austin Convention Center more competitive in the national and regional convention market, the LEED certification would ensure maximum operation efficiency and financial savings for years to come. Many changes involved improving operating procedures that have little or no cost associated with them. Some of the major initiatives included retro-commissioning, plumbing fixture replacement, a sustainable purchasing program, and revamping the waste stream process.Due to the facility's age, it was decided that a full retro-commissioning, while being the largest expense, would have a significant Return on Investment (ROI) that would produce real dollar savings for years to come. This would complement the development of a far less expensive in-house ongoing commissioning plan. In areas where system or building upgrades were needed, this integrated approach allowed achievement of high benefits at low costs because of synergies between areas of environmental protection and technologies. In addition to installation of LED lights, we implemented many low-cost to no-cost energy conservation measures (ECMs) associated with the controls system, including modifying the schedule for the interior and the exterior lighting systems to make sure that unnecessary lighting is turned off. The retro-commissioning and the implementation of ECMs allowed ACC to operate at a level that is 26% more efficient than the peer comparison baseline. When you add in electricity rate increases, this resulted in approximately $450,000 in cost avoidance.
To significantly decrease domestic water consumption, ACC performed a retrofit of many of the plumbing fixtures. ACC replaced the 3.5 gallons-per-flush water closets with 1.6 gallons-per-flush fixtures and, the urinals were upgraded to 1.0 gallons-per-flush fixtures. Through internal process changes, we surpassed our sustainable purchases goal and are at 97% of general purchases, 100% of indoor air quality-compliant products, and 100% of cleaning products meeting the sustainable purchasing guidelines. Additionally, the waste process wasexamined, upgraded, and we are now routinely diverting 60 to 70% of our waste. ACC is proud of its effort to not only achieve LEED Gold certification, but also project achievements: reducing indoor water usage by 32%, diverting 68% of its waste, decreasing its carbon footprint by 93%, and operating at an energy efficiency level 26% better than its peer-comparison baseline. The LEED process gave ACC the opportunity to fully integrate sustainability into its everyday business and build a successful Operations Program. Through this infusion of sustainability into facility management, the LEED rating system gives facility managers a tangible way to quantify sustainability success in their field.
The building blocks created by LEED certification of the Austin Convention Center will assist ACC in meeting the goals of the Austin Climate Protection Plan and the Austin Resource Recovery's Zero Waste Plan. In addition, this significant achievement provides a road map for other City departments to pursue LEED certification under the Existing Buildings rating system.