The Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA) today announced that Philadelphia has been ranked as one of the top ten U.S. Cities for Green Meetings by GreenBiz.com, a list developed based on industry standards for sustainable meetings and convention practices. Greenbiz.com cited a number of factors at the Pennsylvania Convention Center that led to its high ranking, including its LEED Gold certification for its 2011 expansion; its use of 100 percent decomposable and biodegradable food and beverage products and Green Seal-certified cleaning products; its use of renewable energy; and energy-efficient lighting and other energy-saving initiatives.
“We are excited that our efforts to enhance the sustainability of the Center are being recognized by the green industry,” said John McNichol, Acting President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority. “We have made a concerted effort to make the facility a national leader in the race to provide environmentally sustainable meeting space. This ranking affirms our commitment to the environment and lets our customers know that we are focused on sustainability in our daily practices and long-term strategic plan.”
The rankings of convention centers were developed based on standards for sustainable meetings as set forth by the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International). The ASTM/APEX standards for sustainable meetings provide a barometer of environmental integrity across nine sectors of event production: transportation, audiovisual, accommodation, onsite office, meeting venue, food & beverage, exhibits, destinations and communications.
“The green, sustainable, and cost saving initiatives being implemented at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority are the types of innovations that I have placed a priority on implementing throughout state government,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. “These initiatives not only help to make a cleaner environment, but also attract shows and meeting planners who are environmentally conscious, create room nights at the region’s hotels and have a positive impact on the thousands of jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry throughout the Delaware Valley.”
“Our commitment to making Philadelphia a leading green city is a shared vision. We are fortunate to have leaders and organizations from a variety of sectors incorporating sustainability goals into the work that they do,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “The Convention Center’s recognition as a top green meeting destination is yet another demonstration that sustainability principles often align to make for good business and help to make our city more competitive.”
The Pennsylvania Convention Center earned LEED Gold certification on its $787 million expansion upon its completion in 2011, yet this was only a first step in a number of energy-saving and environmentally-friendly measures enacted in the years since. The center now uses 100 percent decomposable and biodegradable plates, cups, napkins and cutlery, as well as Green Seal-certified cleaning products. Advised by the energy consultancy Pro-Tech Energy, the center has reduced its annual electricity and natural gas costs by more than 40 percent since 2011, primarily through competitive rate procurement and capital improvements for energy efficient lighting, appliances and cooling systems.
“This ranking only adds to the overall package that we offer in Philadelphia as a top destination for meetings, conventions or tradeshows,” Jack Ferguson, President & CEO, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. We are proud that the Pennsylvania Convention Center continues to be recognized as an industry leader.”
Another major step toward enhancing the facility’s sustainability came this past November when the convention center announced it has signed a two-year agreement with NRG Energy Solutions to begin powering a portion of its facilities with renewable energy in 2014. Through the agreement, 25 percent of the center’s total electricity usages – current annual estimates place the figure at 26.5 million kWh – will come from renewable energy sources such as wind. This represents a significant increase from the center’s original plan to purchase up to 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources. When coupled with energy-efficient capital improvements, this sustainable energy agreement with NRG will help balance a comprehensive efficiency plan to reduce the carbon footprint of the facility.
The green initiatives of the convention center are part of a concerted effort to attract new meetings and conventions that place a high-priority on using environmentally-friendly meeting facilities. This past November, Philadelphia and the Convention Center played host to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) 2013 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. Through a partnership with USGBC, the center began composting, increased recycling and worked towards a more efficient food preparation system. The changes helped the center increase its waste diversion rates to 75 percent diversion rate during the conference, an impressive feat. The Greenbuild conference was headlined by keynote speaker Hilary Rodham Clinton, and attended by more than 30,000 individuals from around the world.
For the complete rankings of the “Top 10 U.S. Cities for Green Meetings in 2014” visit: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/01/02/top-10-us-cities-green-meetings-2014