Oregon Convention Center with Portland Downtown Skyline at Blue Hour 2

Great Projects

Oregon Convention Center Earns LEED Platinum

The Oregon Convention Center’s commitment to sustainability has been evident since construction on the facility was first completed in 1990. Operated by Metro, the Portland area regional governance organization, the Oregon Convention Center was conceived and constructed to serve as a beacon of sustainability in the Pacific Northwest.

For the last 25 years, the Oregon Convention Center’s staff has worked tirelessly toward its stated mission to be the greenest events facility in the world, and the first choice for domestic and international green meetings. In November of 2004, it became the first convention center in the world to achieve LEED-EBOM certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and in the years since has reached LEED Platinum. Considering it is a facility that operates 24 hours a day and houses nearly a million square feet of functional event space, the achievement is remarkable. In fact, it is one of only a small number of convention centers in the world to reach LEED Platinum.

Its efforts to certify and re-certify for LEED designations have resulted in major environmental and community benefits, thanks largely to some herculean waste diversion efforts. Nearly 70 percent of waste produced by the facility has been diverted away from landfills. Nearly 30,000 pounds of food has been donated to the Oregon Food Bank. And some 66,000 pounds of food has been donated to other Portland area shelters.

To prepare for its upcoming recertification in 2014, the Oregon Convention Center hired Glumac’s commissioning team in the summer of 2010 to undergo a retro-commissioning process to help improve its energy and atmosphere systems in order to earn LEED Gold. But once the team arrived, it determined there was enough low-cost and no-cost solutions to leap frog that designation and reach the rarified air of LEED Platinum. The scorecard for the Energy and Atmosphere certification has the most requirements of any category required to certify for LEED Platinum, and the Oregon Convention Center currently meets more than of any of other LEED Platinum convention center.

“We hired Glumac to help analyze the more difficult or hard-to-find energy savings measures,” said Ryan Thorpe, former director of operations for the OCC.

Oregon Conventoin Center Energy Savings
Glumac’s Impact: Total EUI Reduction

During the retro-commissioning process it was discovered that Oregon Convention Center’s boilers were running nonstop during the high heat of midsummer, causing the cooling system to work overtime, which in turn created comfort level issues throughout the venue. By recommending replacement of the existing non-condensing boilers and then shutting them down in the summer months, Glumac was able to help the Oregon Convention Center see a dramatic drop in energy outputs and costs, particularly between June and September. In addition, the pressure settings for the chilled water pumps were too high, much of the time operating at as much as 90%, creating a lot of excess energy usage. By reducing chilled water system differential pressure set point and modifying its staging control sequences, major energy efficiency improvements were achieved.

Also during the retro-commissioning process, the Glumac team discovered that heavy accumulation of dust and dirt in the variable air volume (VAV) terminal units had caused them to fall out of calibration. This resulted in difficulties maintaining accurate comfort level readings, which caused wasted energy. With the help of the Glumac team, the Oregon Convention Center maintenance staff installed filters designed to prevent excess particles from reaching the sensors. Vast improvements in the functionality VAV units were gained once they were rebalanced.

Great teamwork between Glumac, various contractors including a testing and balancing firm and a controls team, and the Oregon Convention Center’s facilities staff have made the convention center a sustainable building that works. The Oregon Convention Center’s investment in retro-commissioning and its effort to reach LEED Platinum have resulted a tremendous EUI reduction, and in a total annual energy savings amounting to more than $700,000 over four years since 2010. With improved operational efficiency, improvements in staff productivity have resulted in increased occupant satisfaction and decreased labor costs, contributing to measurable improvements in the surrounding community, making the Oregon Convention Center a green building that truly works.

To learn more about Glumac’s Commissioning services or how energy conservation measures can save you money, contact me, Kevin Dow at [email protected].