The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Wins Three Prestigious Awards for Sustainability and Equity
NEW ORLEANS – Last month, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) received three prestigious awards: the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Community Leader Award for the South Central Region and two Love Your City Awards from LifeCity. These awards celebrate the Convention Center’s commitment and achievements around sustainability and equity.
“As much as we focus on delivering exceptional events for our clients, our Convention Center teams are also hard at work behind the scenes finding new ways to make our facility more sustainable and our organization more inclusive,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President and CEO. “We view these awards from the USGBC and LifeCity not just as confirmation that our work is making a difference, but also as catalysts to continue setting high standards and pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve.”
Presented by the USGBC at its Louisiana FORWARD symposium on Oct. 26, the NOENMCC’s Community Leader Award recognized the Convention Center for being “an exceptional green building project that overcame significant obstacles.” These prestigious awards celebrate the projects, people and partners working to create better buildings and better lives for the people in their local communities.
Chosen from a group of 12 finalists in the South Central Region — encompassing Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas — the NOENMCC won the USGBC 2023 ‘Rise to the Challenge’ Community Leader Award for its ongoing commitment to sustainability. From reducing the facility’s energy and water usage to increasing recycling efforts and green infrastructure, the NOENMCC is working hard to minimize its carbon footprint and advocate for the environmental health of New Orleans.
Recent improvements include overhauling the facility’s HVAC and lighting systems, installing electric vehicle charging stations and replacing 1.9 million square feet of traditional roofing with a new, energy-efficient roofing system. In 2022, the NOENMCC earned a gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the USGBC, making it the largest LEED-certified project in Louisiana and the first convention center in the world to be awarded initial certification under LEED v4.1 O+M.
“While I am thrilled to accept this award from the USGBC, the credit for the real work behind our extensive progress around sustainability goes to the dedicated and talented people at the Convention Center, starting with our Director of Sustainability Linda Baynham,” said Adam J. Straight, Convention Center Chief Operating Officer. “It takes all of us — from leadership down to every team member — to get the resources, momentum and follow-through we need to make big changes that reduce our environmental impact.”
The NOENMCC received two more accolades in October. LifeCity — an initiative that supports responsible economic development and helps organizations manage, track, report and market their impact — presented the Convention Center with two “Love Your City Awards,” one for Equity and one for Energy. The awards recognize organizations and individuals for positively impacting communities through reductions in energy use, contributions to the local economy, commitments to providing equitable opportunities for all, and more.
At an awards gala on Oct. 19, LifeCity presented the NOENMCC with a “Love Your City Award” for Energy in recognition of its commitment to sustainability, and another “Love Your City Award” for Equity, highlighting the Convention Center’s increasing efforts to implement diverse, equitable, inclusive (DEI) practices and policies.
In naming Rocsean Spencer its Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) earlier this year, the NOENCC became the first convention center in the nation to establish the position of CDO. Spencer and her team work to support the Convention Center’s DEI goals and directives designed to mitigate bias, increase equitable outcomes, and foster respect and inclusion.
Another testament to its commitment to equity, the NOEMNCC’s Small and Emerging Business (SEB) Program creates and implements initiatives designed to help promote diverse and small businesses’ access to Convention Center opportunities. Since the SEB program launched in 2019, 1,552 certified vendors have registered, and more than $52 million in contracts has been awarded to local SEBs and disadvantaged business enterprises.
About the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC)
New Orleans is Built to Host! With 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space on one level, all under one roof, NOENMCC is the sixth largest Convention Center in the United States and provides the largest single exhibit space in the country. NOENMCC is a 2023 IAVM Venue Excellence recipient and is consistently named a regional top workplace by The Times-Picayune|New Orleans Advocate. Our recent LEED Gold certification makes NOENMCC the largest LEED-certified project in Louisiana and the largest convention center project in the U.S. certified under LEED v4.1 Operations and Maintenance, as well as the first convention center in the world to be awarded initial certification under LEED Gold v4.1 O+M. A leading contributor to the city’s robust tourism economy, NOENMCC event activity has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening.