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'Green' building principles could pay off for convention center

The convention center that opens Friday in downtown Raleigh is a local landmark in energy efficiency.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The convention center that opens Friday in downtown Raleigh is a local landmark in energy efficiency.

"The Raleigh Convention Center is the largest city project to date that includes sustainable design and construction practices," said Jeff Deal, project manager for the development.

Deal said saving energy was by design.

  • Crews used environmentally-friendly paints and carpets throughout the building.
  • Much of the lighting is provided by efficient LED bulbs, which use about half the electricity of incandescent ones.
  • Exhibit halls are built below ground, offering a layer of natural insulation.
  • The rooms also have motion sensors to detect when people enter, and keep lights off when rooms are empty. "The facility responds to their location and sends heating or cooling to those areas," Deal added.
  • Outside, the white roof and walls reflect rather than absorb sunlight and heat.
  • In the bathrooms, sensors help reduce wasted water. Faucets run and toilets flush automatically, using low-flow principles.

City leaders save the cost-saving measures did not cost much more than older technologies, and they predict the sustainable design will save 25 percent off the energy cost to run the building.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker says the green convention center could mean more green for the city.

Convention center managers want to get the building officially certified as environmentally-friendly as a lure for environmentally-conscious meeting planners.

"For the convention center, it's a plus for us in marketing," Meeker said. "Organizations want to go to places that are having this kind of building, so that will help us."

Meeker said city planners hope to apply some of the same green principles to the new police headquarters. That project is in the planning stages, with construction to begin in 2009.

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