LEEDing by Example

Santa Fe Community Convention Center - architectural rendering

The Santa Fe Community Convention Center (quite a mouthful) has just earned the LEED Gold certification. This means that the new convention center 'was designed (by Santa Fe-based Spears Architects and Fentress Architects) and built using strategies aimed at improving ... energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.' It is good to see that all the effort that went into this large municipal project has paid off in a sustainable and efficient convention center.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a 3rd party certification program which promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. While the Santa Fe Community Convention Center has been open since the summer of 2008, the third-party LEED certification process is time consuming and requires data from the first year of operation.

The convention center design and construction incorporated the following sustainable practices and materials:

  • The new building was constructed on the site of the old center.
  • 88% of the demolition material by weight was recycled.
  • 75% of the new construction waste by weight was recycled.
  • The center has rooftop gardens to better control heat absorption and transmission.
  • A 45,000 gallon water catchment system supplies most of the facility's irrigation needs.
  • Non-volatile carpet, paint, and cleaning products are used throughout.
  • All exterior lumber was recycled from a New Mexico forest fire.
  • Skylights were used extensively as light sources.
  • Exterior walkways are porous to reduce run-off.
  • Three recycling centers operate within the facility, plus all meeting rooms have their own recycling containers.

Santa Fe, NM is the first city in the U.S. to sign the Architecture 2030 Challenge*, a program aimed at reducing the operational carbon footprint of all new buildings to zero by 2030. This is a big challenge and it's good to see that the City of Santa Fe is making progress towards that goal. Walking your talk isn't easy, but each step in the right direction is easier than the one before.

* Architecture 2030 is based in Santa Fe and is working to change the entire architecture and building industry, which is no small task.

More Info:

U.S. Green Building Council - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Architecture 2030

SantaFe.org - Convention Center Receives LEED Gold Certification 12-09

Spears Architects - Santa Fe Community Convention Center