While the coronavirus pandemic impacting hosting events in 2020, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) took advantage of the downtime. The management team has made critical facility upgrades that will reduce the facility’s environmental footprint — and in turn, aims to help make the venue a leader in sustainable events.
“As one of the top convention center facilities in the nation, it is crucial that we meet and exceed national standards when it comes to sustainability and environmental impact,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President. “Nowadays, sustainability and eco-friendly practices are significant when it comes to booking future meetings and events — and this goes far beyond ‘just recycling.’ By making these energy, water, and capital upgrades, we are committed to reducing the environmental impact of large-scale meetings here in New Orleans while at the same time helping our future customers meet their own sustainability goals.”
NOENMCC has made major strides in energy, water, and capital conservation, all of which meet or exceed national standards In 2020. These improvements include:
Switching to energy efficient LED lighting, with NOENMCC replacing more than 3,000 bulbs and light fixtures with energy efficient LED lighting throughout the building. Up next: more than 5,000 fixtures within the 1 million sq. ft exhibit hall space will be upgraded to high-tech LED exhibit lighting this year. This will be one of the largest energy savings and lighting upgrades in the entire state.
Making major improvements to energy management systems by replacing cooling towers and chillers and also piloted a project to clean air handling units, which will improve air quality and save energy. All of these upgrades and maintenance are expected to reduce energy use by 10-15% by the end of 2021.
Energy reductions are tracked in real time through Entronix, a platform which will show actual energy use at locations across the building.
The Energy Smart program, administered by Entergy New Orleans, is providing incentives to complete these energy saving upgrades. In 2020 alone, the program provided over $100,000 for the completion of nine energy saving projects.
Pursuing Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), a sustainable building certification used across the U.S. and by major facilities and Convention Centers.
Opening a 7.5-acre Pedestrian Park that created a lush green space including walkways, a beautiful water feature, decorative festoon lighting and a mile-long tract of unique and varied spaces for outdoor events. In the park, stormwater is managed by channeling rainwater into rain gardens, bio-swales and tree plantings, reducing the impact on the drainage system and providing natural irrigation to plants.
Upgrading all public restrooms, which may ultimately reduce water use by as much as 5% and adding more than 60 water bottle filling stations with filtered water.
Purchased additional recycling bins for events and developed streamlined labelling system for all recycling across the building.
“Our energy reduction projects at the Convention Center have been outstanding to watch, and we will see real impacts moving forward,” said Linda Baynham, Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. “In 2020, we used a team-work approach to sustainability — staff from across the facility and departments provided insights into our waste, energy, water and communications strategies. We re-launched our internal recycling program and launched our sustainability website, which includes an event tracking template to help major events track their sustainability impacts.”
“I am so very proud of the progress we’ve made in our sustainability venture. We have the foundation in place and the excellent supporting cast to keep making immediate impacts to both our internal operations and continuing effort to be stewards of our great community,” said Adam J. Straight, Vice President-Operations.