Virginia Beach Convention Center is Nation’s First Convention Center to Achieve LEED® Gold Certification for Existing Buildings

Pamela M. Lingle
plingle@vbgov.com
(757) 385-6628

Katie Glaser
(757) 385-2170

The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) announce that the Virginia Beach Convention Center (VBCC) is the first convention center in the country to achieve LEED® Gold Certification for Existing Buildings.  This achievement also signifies the VBCC as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s largest (over 515,000 square feet) building to achieve the LEED Gold Certified Project for Existing Buildings.  A ceremony to accept the plaque from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) took place this morning at the VBCC where 2nd District Congressman Glenn Nye and Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. participated.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. It was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). There are several types of certifications but two primary ones for commercial facilities – New Construction (NC) and Existing Buildings (EB). Since this facility was opened in 2007, the Center’s application was under the Existing Building category. The LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) Rating System helps building owners and operators of existing buildings measure operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale, with the goal of maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts.

“The Virginia Beach Convention Center staff has set a great example for other buildings within the industry and the resort area by working as a team to efficiently perform and operate to LEED standards,” stated James B. Ricketts, CVB director. “We pride ourselves on being innovative and

forward-thinking, and by protecting our environment, we can look ahead to a sustainable and clean future.”

”We are tremendously proud of this achievement.  This certification is a clear sign of our commitment to the environment and our staff worked hard as a team to get us there,” stated Courtney Dyer, VBCC general manager.  “By conserving energy and reducing our costs, we are better able to serve our community and meeting planners.”

“Our commitment to the environment is not only a preferred amenity, but a requirement for some meeting planners looking to book their events,” said Al Hutchinson, vice president of convention sales and marketing for the CVB. “They consider LEED to be the premier third party “seal of approval” for meeting facilities in regard to environmental criteria.”             

The unique factors in obtaining the gold level were substantiated by the additional points the VBCC earned for areas including energy conservation, sustainable purchases and innovation credits. The building also received extra innovation points for developing ergonomics training for staff, an environmental communication program, which includes a compelling environmental awareness presentation on the 360-foot video wall, and an energy management outreach project. Sustainability initiatives include several core programs, including recycling, water efficiency, energy efficiency and more. For a complete list, see Attachment A.
The facility was built on the location of the original Pavilion Convention Center, thereby reducing the cost of infrastructure improvements. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP (SOM), the building’s architects, in conjunction with their local partner, Norfolk-based Clark Nexsen, had the foresight to recycle materials from the former facility including steel, copper, aluminum, concrete and cinder blocks and reuse materials like asphalt in construction of the new facility. “We shared a commitment to excellence in all matters from design to operations. We would be gratified if this designation encourages the design community to continue working toward a better environment,” commented Leigh Breslau, SOM design partner.     

The VBCC’s business manager, Lori Herrick, earned the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED-AP) designation, which enabled her to facilitate the rating of the VBCC with the various LEED systems. The LEED-AP designation for Herrick is unique as most LEED-APs have engineering and architecture backgrounds while Herrick holds a Master of Business Administration.  

Typically, commercial facilities hire consultants to apply for the certification. However, under Herrick’s leadership, 77 percent of the work was completed by city staff, including the Departments of Public Works and Planning. As the LEED program is predicated on third party verification, the VBCC worked with consultants on an as-needed basis for documentation of technical areas.

The VBCC’s LEED certification is in addition to several sustainability initiatives and programs that the CVB and its hospitality partners have embraced as part of the Commonwealth’s Virginia Green campaign to promote environmentally friendly practices in all aspects of the Virginia tourism and hospitality industry. Virginia Beach now has more than 100 Virginia Green certified hospitality businesses and is the Commonwealth’s first “Virginia Green Destination.” Currently, the VBCC is competing against 14 commercial buildings in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) national competition to save energy and fight climate change. For more contest information, visit www.energystar.gov/BuildingContest.  For a complete list of the CVB’s sustainability initiatives, achievements and collaborations, see Attachment B.

The VBCC’s LEED certification is in addition to several sustainability initiatives and programs that the CVB and its hospitality partners have embraced as part of the Commonwealth’s Virginia Green campaign to promote environmentally friendly practices in all aspects of the Virginia tourism and hospitality industry. Virginia Beach now has more than 100 Virginia Green certified hospitality businesses and is the Commonwealth’s first “Virginia Green Destination.” Currently, the VBCC is competing against 14 commercial buildings in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) national competition to save energy and fight climate change. For more contest information, visit www.energystar.gov/BuildingContest.  For a complete list of the CVB’s sustainability initiatives, achievements and collaborations, see Attachment B.

To learn more about bringing your meeting/convention/sporting event to Virginia Beach and the Virginia Beach Convention Center, visit www.vbmeetings.com. For a complete list of the VBCC’s green initiatives, visit www.vbconventioncenter.com/green.For a complete list of certified businesses and Virginia Green partners as well as green tips, hotels, and activities that support maintaining the beauty of Virginia Beach, visit www.VirginiaBeachGreen.com.

LEED Partners
Distinctive Gourmet (www.vbcatering.com), Swanson Security Services, LLC, 2D Innovations (www.2Dinnovations.com), Birsch Industries (www.birsch.com), Burns and Roe (www.roe.com), GeoEnvironmental Resources (www.geronline.com), Kerr Environmental Services Corporation (www.kerrenv.com), PACE Collaborative (www.pace-pme.com),  Smith Turf and Irrigation (www.smithturf.com), Thermo-trol Systems (www.thermo-trol.com, Tidewater Fibre Corporation (www.tfcrecycling.com), and the Virginia Beach Department of Public Works and the Virginia Beach Department of Planning.

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