The Convention Center is only one of two in the United States to hold that distinction and continues what has now become a Portland tradition of achieving the highest levels of sustainable practice.
"For the Oregon Convention Center to achieve LEED Platinum certification is an extraordinary accomplishment and represents the high value our community places on environmental stewardship,” says Scott Cruickshank, executive director of the Oregon Convention Center. “It’s also a testament to our staff whose years of dedication and commitment toward sustainable practices and responsible building management made this achievement possible.”
LEED is the universally recognized green building rating system developed by the USGBC that helps the building industry operate in more efficient and environmentally responsible ways. LEED Platinum is the highest of the four LEED certifications, including Certified, Silver and Gold, awarded by the USGBC, the nonprofit coalition of builders, environmentalists and other industry professionals.
For Portland, the award represents the latest green building milestone in a city that has earned a reputation as one of the most sustainable cities in the country. Indeed, Portland boasts some notable LEED certified buildings – but rare is one with Platinum status that has more than one million square feet of space and operates 24 hours a day.
Owned and operated by Metro, the regional government agency that promotes sustainable and environmental stewardship across the Portland metropolitan area, the Convention Center is the largest of its kind in the Northwest and was constructed in 1990, well before “Green Building” and “LEED” became commonly used terms. From the perspective of green design, the Convention Center pre-dates this current era where newly built convention centers are expected to achieve LEED status upon completion.
LEED Platinum certification thus represents 24 years of focused dedication by the Convention Center and Metro to not simply keep pace with industry standards but to become leaders of them.
It also highlights the ability to craft enduring partnerships with many of the city’s crucial sustainability organizations, including Green Building Services, Energy Trust of Oregon and Glumac.
“Our focus has been on continuous improvement over the years,” says Matthew Uchtman, the Convention Center’s director of operations. “This achievement did not happen overnight.”
In 2003, thirteen years after opening, the Convention Center expanded its campus by doubling its square footage. During the expansion, the facility also incorporated a number of green features and practices. In 2004, the Convention Center became the first convention center in the world to be designated LEED Certified.
Four years later, the Convention Center reached another pinnacle when it was awarded LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings.
But Uchtman notes that in the past five years, the Convention Center has engaged a specific “step by step process to prioritize our efforts around water and energy efficiency. It is rewarding to see our efforts recognized though we know our work is not finished.”
Those efforts were intense, focused and involved a wide range of projects: plumbing retrofits, building retro-commissioning, lighting projects and HVAC upgrades. They also involved the Convention Center’s staff’s ability to adapt and learn. In this regard, training and education of the staff, led by sustainability coordinator Erin Rowland, was crucial.
While there is no level higher than LEED Platinum certification, executive director Scott Cruickshank says there are more opportunities ahead.
“Although this is major accomplishment, we will continue to explore new and innovative ways that the Convention Center can further reduce its carbon footprint and continue to be a role model for the entire convention industry.”