The Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) was recently awarded a $2.3 million grant for a major lighting retrofit and controls system upgrade through the State Retrofit Program. Secured through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) and its State Energy Program, which received funding for the grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA), the GWCC’s funding will be used for a major replacement of nearly 1,500 lighting fixtures in the convention center’s 12 exhibit halls.

The grant, managed by the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission (GSFIC), will be used to replace the current 1,000W metal halide lighting fixtures with 750W pulse start metal halide fixtures in the center’s 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space. Lighting controls will also be upgraded to models that will allow for greater ability to control the fixtures on an individual basis. The goal of this project is to reduce energy consumption, as well as operation and maintenance costs, by using more energy efficient lamps and advanced lighting controls. The project is estimated to be complete in September 2011.

“We are constantly looking to reduce our energy consumption and costs and to be more sustainable in our day to day operations,” says GWCC Assistant General Manager Patrick Skaggs. “We appreciate the assistance we’ve received from GEFA and GSFIC in securing and managing these federal funds, which will decrease our utility and labor costs in operating and maintaining the 1,500 fixtures that will be replaced.”

Energy efficiency throughout the 3.9 million square foot facility, the fourth largest of its kind in the country, is a top priority. With an annual power bill of more than $4 million, and more than 20,000 light fixtures throughout the convention center, the potential savings from the new fixtures will make a tremendous impact. Each bulb will potentially result in up to 25% savings per usage and will last 20% longer than the bulbs currently in use.

In 2010, the convention center saved more than 5.8 million kWhs over 2009 consumption numbers. The GWCC is optimistic about expanding the retrofit program in the future, and research on further funding options for higher efficiency fixtures is underway.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to reduce energy consumption on our campus,” says Josh Robison, the convention center’s director of engineering. “The exhibit hall lighting and controls system upgrade is just another example of how we are furthering this goal.”

The GWCC has a $2 billion annual economic impact on the state of Georgia, the majority of which stems from business booked in the 12 exhibit halls. The GWCC hosted 331 events in FY10, including 45 major tradeshows and conventions. 1.1 million visitors attended these events.