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Greening of Hospitality Industry
Convene Green Alliance Focus Forum Highlights Renewable Energy Use In Atlantic City
When a meeting destination and its convention center decide to be as environmentally sustainable as possible, they need to decide where to focus their resources to gain the maximum impact. In the case of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority (ACCVA), which promotes Atlantic City, New Jersey and also owns the Atlantic City Convention Center and the nearby Boardwalk Hall, the decision was to think big about how to generate sustainable energy and save money.

ACCVA vice president for Convention Sales Gary Musich and Charlie Beirne, general manager of the Atlantic City Convention Center and the regional general manager for SMG, which operates the Center, described the many sustainable energy-producing features of the Center in a Convene Green Alliance (CGA) Focus Forum on February 22, 2009 at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Virginia. “We chose to put our efforts and finances into energy,” Musich explained. The biggest initiative to date was to install 13,500 solar photovoltaic panels over 300,000 sq. ft. on the roof of the convention center. These panels generate 28 percent of the electricity used by the center – 2 percent higher than initial projections. In 2009 the 2.7 million kilowatt hours of energy produced was equal to saving 2,245 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, significantly lowering the carbon footprint of the building.

“We also have real-time measurement of exactly how much energy we are using, so we can adjust operations to gain the maximum efficiency,” Beirne added. ACCVA also plans to install 10,000 solar panels over 200,000 sq. ft. on the roof of Boardwalk Hall to generate significant electricity to power that building. The next big initiative for ACCVA will be to install a 250-ft.-tall wind turbine with 60-ft. blades adjacent to the convention center, which is expected to generate one megawatt of energy per year and provide another 20 percent of the center’s electricity needs. Atlantic City already operates a wind farm with five turbines that produce five megawatts of power, so the technology is proven in this area.

ACCVA has secured a $1.5 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Federal stimulus bill) to help fund the wind turbine project. It has also formed a partnership with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and received a $543,000 rebate from New Jersey Clean Energy to help fund the project. “Meeting professionals want to know that the facilities where they meet are doing everything possible to operate sustainably, and Atlantic City is one of the leaders in this area,” said CGA Executive Director Tracey Messina. But the efforts of ACCVA and the convention center don’t end with energy savings. The center also has a robust recycling program that recycled nearly 100 tons of waste in 2009.

Beirne explained that the center also uses a wide range of green products, including a green line of disposable products ranging from compostable cutlery kits and plates to eco-friendly coffee cups and stirrers. The center offers all of these products at no additional cost to groups for their meetings and conventions. Concrete floors are power-washed with water instead of using chemicals, and where chemicals are required for cleaning they are Green-Seal approved. Musich emphasized that ACCVA is continually forging ahead with new ways to become more sustainable. “What we will do in the next two years will be more than we did during the last three,” he said. “Our previous accomplishments will pale in comparison to what lies ahead.”

Jack Sammis, president & CEO of IMN Solutions, a leading association, foundation and meeting management company which manages CGA, added that ACCVA is also being a good steward of the environment and preserving a historic landmark by renovating Boardwalk Hall instead of replacing it with a new arena. The Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority (ACCVA) brought a solar panel just like thos e on the roof of the Atlantic City Convention Center to a February 22, 2010 Convene Green Alliance (CGA) Focus Forum, where Musich and Beirne explained how the Center has focused on sustainable energy. The solar panels provide 28 percent of the electricity used by the Center. Shown here (left to right) are Diane Dalisera of D3 Associates, Charles Beirne, Brian Knapp of IMN Solutions, Jack Sammis of IMN Solutions, Gary Musich, David Barack of Barack Association Management, Inc., Tracey Messina of CGA, Carrie Harris of ACCVA, Sara Meeks of CGA, and Jessica Elleman of Barack Association Management, Inc. For more information about the Convene Green Alliance — to become a complimentary association member or to register for future events — visit