Name: Lindsay Arell
Title: Sustainable Programs Manager
Organization: Colorado Convention Center
Primary responsibilities: “I focus on the sustainability of our operations. I help to make sure recycling and composting are in place and that we are following energy efficiency policies. I work closely with clients to help them pull off sustainability goals. I network within the industry overall to let peers know what we are doing. We are in the middle of our LEED recertification. I am helping to mentor that process.”
Organization’s most significant sustainability-related accomplishment so far: “The Center’s most significant accomplishment is putting in a position for a sustainability manager and recognizing that it can be a full-time position.”
Organization’s most significant sustainability-related challenge: “The training and engagement of the Center’s stakeholders. Convention centers have to continuously educate large groups of people.”
DENVER—It was five years ago that Lindsay Arell became the first full-time sustainability manager hired by a convention center—the Colorado Convention Center. Today, she says, there are probably 10 to 15 people in similar roles. Now Sustainable Programs Manager for the Center, Arell continues to help bring notoriety to it as a contracted consultant with Arell Logic.
Under Arell’s watch last year, the Center became the first event and conference venue in the world to achieve Level One certification with the ASTM Standard pertaining to the Evaluation and Selection of Venues for Environmentally Sustainable Meetings, Events, Trade Shows, and Conferences. Three years ago, the Center achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) certification. Today, Arell is helping to guide the Center through its LEED recertification process.
At the Center, Arell says there is no typical day for her. “It can be everything from talking to lighting manufacturers to finding a home for leftover materials,” she says.
Always Focused on Impact Reduction
Arell and the team of engineers and electricians at the Center are constantly looking for ways to save energy, reduce water consumption and waste, and improve indoor air quality. Here are some highlights from the Center’s 2012 Annual Sustainability Report:
• Conversion of 2,448 meeting room, street level, and lobby lights to LEDs, resulting in the following annual savings: 540,447 kWh, $48,640, and 3,712.5 metric tons of CO2 emissions prevented.
• Retrofit hot water pumps, resulting in the following annual savings: 808,305 kWh, $72,717, and 284.93 metric tons of CO2 emissions prevented.
• Retrofit air handler motors, resulting in the following annual savings: 162,348 kWh, $146,144, and 57.23 metric tons of CO2 emissions prevented.
• Achieved a waste diversion from landfill rate of 57 percent.
• Donated 307,739 pounds of materials for reuse or repurposing.
• Recycled 681,001 pounds of materials.
• Composted 280,120 pounds of materials.
• Recycled more than 6,107 pounds of paper.
• Retrofit all toilets, urinals, and sinks to low-flow and dual flush models. They are expected to reduce water usage by approximately 30 percent annually.
On the roof of the Center is a 301-kW solar array which, Arell says, meets about 3 percent of the Center’s annual electricity needs.
“The most successful initiatives have involved engineers and electricians in improving the efficiency of the building,” Arell says. “Taking advantage of natural daylighting has also helped reduce energy consumption and costs.”
Grass Replaced with Native Plants
A recent initiative to reduce water consumption is the replacement of grass with more native plants. This reduced water consumption for irrigation by 75 percent.
From a waste management perspective, Arell says the most effective tool is regularly scheduled waste audits. “Making sure we have a recycling bin next to every landfill bin is key,” she says. “Each time we have done [an audit], we have found something truly eye-opening.”
One current project is the retrofitting of exhibit hall lighting. Another is the installation of electric vehicle charging stations.
All of the Center’s efforts have helped bring in new meetings business. “There are definitely some meetings that came here because of our sustainability programs,” Arell says. “I have definitely seen an increase of clients asking about our sustainability initiatives.”
Busy Outside of the Convention Center
Arell, founder of Arell Logic, is the current Chair of the ASTM E60.02 Sustainable Event Standard and sits on the Green Meeting Industry Council Board of Directors. She has been recognized as an industry Eco-Leader by Tradeshow Weekly, Top 40 Under 40 by Connect Magazine, and industry innovator by BizBash Magazine.
When asked how important it is for a convention center to have someone like her on board, Arell said, “It’s crucial. It should be an aspect of your operations team.”
Having grown up in Colorado, Arell says she has always had an appreciation for the environment. It was not until she began working in the events industry, however, that she began to understand the environmental impact of meetings—especially the waste generated.
Go to the Colorado Convention Center.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.