Oregon Convention Center harnesses the sun (2017)
The first year of power generation from the two-megawatt, 6,500-panel solar array on the roof of the Oregon Convention Center generated almost 1.8 million kilowatt-hours of energy, reaching the target of 25 percent of the Convention Center's energy use. The solar energy generated could power 166 Oregon homes for an entire year.
Oregon Convention Center does more with less energy (2017)
The Convention Center installed a new LED lighting system in its iconic glass spires that uses less than half of the energy of the former lights and also allows the towers to glow in various colors to reflect the branding of an event happening inside or public observances.
Programming updates to heating and cooling controls at the Convention Center resolved client comfort issues while also saving enough natural gas in a year to pay back the cost of the project, which was cut in half due to incentives from the Energy Trust of Oregon.
Oregon Convention Center increased donations of usable materials from events by 425 percent (2016)
As a result of its commitment to preventing waste, the Oregon Convention Center saw a sizable jump in the amount of usable materials donated to local community groups in the last year, advancing progress toward Metro’s waste reduction goal.
The amount of materials brought in for shows at the convention center can be substantial. Often, the cost for exhibitors to ship these materials back to their headquarters after the show is prohibitive. Rather than send these materials to the landfill, Oregon Convention Center staff work with show managers, decorators, exhibitors and local nonprofit organizations to put these materials to good use. This effort has paid off ― both in a 425 percent increase in materials donated last year (from four tons to 21 tons), and in reduced disposal costs for clients.
Most ambitious rooftop convention center solar array to date at the Oregon Convention Center (2015)
In FY14-15, the Oregon Convention Center issued an RFP for design and installation of what is anticipated to be the largest solar array on a convention center in the U.S. Installation of more than 6,500 rooftop solar panels began in September 2015 and are expected to produce 25 percent of the facility’s electricity.
“One of our core values is sustainability,” said center executive director Scott Cruickshank. “The rooftop solar installation will help us meet our carbon emission reduction goals, reduce utility costs and provide an important learning opportunity for our convention center visitors and guests.”
“I want to personally thank our partners at Pacific Power Blue Sky SM renewable energy program and Energy Trust of Oregon for supporting this installation,” Cruickshank added. “Their financial support made it possible to expand the original project scope of 1.1 megawatts to 2.0 megawatts, with no upfront costs borne by the facility or the taxpayers.”
The solar installation will be constructed and operated by SolarCity, which was awarded the project through a competitive bidding process. In its first 20 years of operation, the rooftop solar system is estimated to generate as much energy as the equivalent of 184 Portland homes each year.
New waste diversion policy aimed at decreasing use of non-recyclable material at Oregon Convention Center (2015)
Beginning January 1, 2016, clients who book event space for conventions and meetings at the Oregon Convention Center – as well as the exhibitors who subcontract space during those events - will pay a new waste diversion deposit at contract signing. The potential for receiving a full refund is high, as long as show managers use recyclable materials.
The new policy is the first known of its kind throughout the convention industry and is intended to engage convention center clients in the facility’s sustainability goals and achievements, which have earned it LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Platinum certification, a rarity as a 25-year old venue.
“For well over a decade, we have been successful at building buy-in from staff to embrace our progressive sustainability practices. Now it’s time to engage our clients in this mission. This innovative new policy will help us continue to move the needle on sustainability accomplishments,” said Cruickshank.
The waste diversion policy prohibits hazardous materials, non-recyclable signs including foam core signs, helium balloons or single-use plastic bags. According to local clients, OCC’s policy is consistent with the informal waste reduction practices of many show managers in recent years.
Oregon Convention Center achieves LEED platinum rating (2014)
In March 2014, the Oregon Convention Center learned from the Green Building Certification Institute that the facility had achieved LEED Existing Building Certification at the Platinum level. Platinum is the highest rating level achievable and the Oregon Convention Center is now one of only three in North America to be certified as platinum.
Starting in 2004, the convention center was the first to be LEED Certified for Existing Buildings, followed by a Silver certification in 2008. To earn LEED certification, a facility meets points within seven categories with an emphasis on building efficiency. In the past year, Oregon Convention Center sustainability coordinator Erin Rowland saw a significant increase in the building’s energy efficiency score due to overall impacts of lighting replacements and other projects, as well as a focus on alternative commuting for employees. “We felt platinum was within our reach,” says Erin. “It’s a pretty intense process, but the final result was well worth it.”
Oregon Convention Center is recertified Salmon Safe (2013)
The Oregon Convention Center renewed its Salmon Safe certification, which requires building management practices that protect water quality, restore habitat, and reduce stormwater runoff and water pollution.
The Oregon Convention Center practices sustainability throughout its operations. In addition to being the first convention center in the U.S. to achieve Salmon-Safe certification, the facility has earned LEED for Existing Buildings certification at the silver level from the U.S. Green Building Council and helps clients plan sustainable events with on-site recycling and other waste-reduction services.
Oregon Convention Center launches sustainable concert events (2012)
In summer 2012, the Oregon Convention Center launched the Plaza Palooza outdoor concert series with three goals in mind: boost revenues, enhance neighborhood livability and maximize sustainability. The facility established a zero-waste goal at the series’ onset and, through a partnership with its recycling/composting contractor, Recology, achieved an average diversion rate of 79 percent.
Oregon Convention Center completes major lighting retrofit (2011)
The Oregon Convention Center completed a major lighting retrofit in exhibit hall and lobby spaces that reduces energy use by between 50 and 90 percent per fixture. Overall, the expected annual energy savings is about 2,721,578 kWh, representing an estimated financial savings of $130,636 each year. Project funding included grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Energy Trust of Oregon and the Business Energy Tax Credit.