Recycling and sustainability efforts of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, host of The Greenbuild Conference and Expo last October, resulted in a waste diversion rate of 78% for the event, exceeding the 65% goal set forth by US Green Building Council (USGBC).
When the group committed to hold their meeting in New Orleans over four years ago, the Convention Center committed to meeting Greenbuild’s waste diversion goal as well as sustainability requirements that included composting and a full recycling program. Since 2010, the Center has been composting waste from the kitchen and food service areas, and local environmental service partner NOLA Green Roots picks up and weighs the waste weekly. The composting efforts were increased for the Greenbuild meeting: a 30-yard open top container was placed in each of the four loading bays of the Center to collect of the compostable waste from the front of the house, such as cellulose-based paper towels from the 34 restrooms.
NOLA Green Roots estimated that more than 9,000 pounds of organic material was composted. Another 2,827 pounds of food was donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. More than 20,940 lbs pounds of waste (out of 86,788 lbs) from the event were diverted from a landfill. Currently, the Convention Center diverts 15% of its waste to compost and recycling.
The Convention Center has also taken energy-saving measures in recent years:
- 6,000 25-watt incandescent outdoor lights replaced with full-watt LED lamps that last 25 times longer than an incandescent lamp, reducing the man-power needed to physically replace them when they expire
- Iridescent interior building lighting replaced with induction lighting, which is 85% more effecting.
- 3/4 mile of iridescent lighting on loading dock replaced with induction lighting
- Implemented computerized energy management system for lighting, heating and air conditioning.
- Replaced 26-year old chillers with new, energy efficient models.
The combined energy-saving measures have reduced the Convention Center’s monthly electric bill from $600,000 to $300,000, representing a cost savings of $3.6 million per year.