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Georgia World Congress Center Authority Sees Utility Costs Slashed by 43%

Georgia World Congress Center Authority Sees Utility Costs Slashed by 43%

From AHR Today 2019

HVAC and system upgrades at the home of the 2019 AHR Expo—the Georgia World Congress Center—have resulted in significant energy savings.

The convention center is one-fourth of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority campus, which has reduced utility costs by 43% compared to a 2013 baseline after a little more than a year into an energy savings performance contract, according to Tim Trefzer, manager of corporate social responsibility at the GWCCA.

The 17-year guaranteed contract is with Trane, who won the project bid in 2014. Energy and water conservation equipment started to be installed in October 2015. The construction process lasted about 18 months, ending in 2017, according to Trefzer.

Facility Upgrades

Replacing 40-year-old chillers and boilers with new, custom equipment in the convention center’s Building B central plant was part of the renovation. The AHR Expo’s main registration desk and a few ASHRAE Winter Conference technical sessions are located in Building B.


Old GWCC Plant

Renovated GWCC Plant.jpg

Renovated GWCC Building B Central Plant

The GWCCA facilities team decided to create a new central plant to heat and cool the conference center reliably for the next two to three decades, according to the GWCCA. There was no need to demolish walls for the roof or interrupt the center’s event schedule while completing the central plant.

The GWCC was built in phases, and each phase had its own mechanical plant, said Wayne Rosser, GWCCA’s physical plant manager. Now, those work together as one plant.

“We are running a variable-speed primary and secondary flow system to keep cooling and heating efficient,” he said.

Rosser said working around conference and show schedules is a major challenge to maintaining the conference center’s building equipment.

Other upgrades were new energy management systems and services. The GWCCA facilities team uses a mobile app to access and adjust building controls remotely. The team looks at the building schedule and turns off unneeded equipment daily, Rosser said.

The GWCCA upgraded about 60,000 interior and exterior light bulbs to high-efficiency LEDs in the convention center and Centennial Olympic Park, said Trefzer. The GWCCA has seen a 32% increase in water saves thanks to plumbing fixture upgrades.  

The authority’s 220-acre campus in downtown Atlanta uses energy-saving strategies including 1.6 megawatts of solar panels on GWCCA’s campus that generate enough electricity to power 160 Georgia homes every year.

Energy Savings Campus-Wide


The Georgia World Congress Center is about 27% more energy-efficient than other buildings of similar size and characteristics, according to the GWCCA.

Trane invested $28 million into the upgrades and expected energy savings of about 39%. A year into the contract, the GWCCA has saved 43% in energy costs.

The first-year results were released in October and show enough electricity was saved to power about 2,300 Georgia homes annual.

The energy reduction helped the Georgia World Congress Center, which is 3.9 million ft2 (3 623 322 m2), earned LEED recertification two years early and ascended to the Gold rating from Sliver, said Trefzer

The Georgia World Congress Center earned LEED Silver certification in 2014, despite using older machinery in its three buildings. Two of the authority’s other properties—the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center and the Mercedes Benz Stadium—have also earned LEED Gold and LEED Platinum certifications, respectively, according to the GWCCA.

Read tomorrow’s AHR Today to learn about Mercedes Benz Stadium’s energy-efficient technologies and innovations.