WEFTEC always seeks to build in as many sustainable practices and choices as possible into planning our event.
From choosing the right partners to taking extra steps to ensure that most materials can be recycled, WEFTEC seeks to have the least effect on the environment as possible.
WEF is aware that large live events have significant environmental effects and is committed to minimizing WEFTEC’s environmental footprint both globally and locally. We are taking steps to better measure our climate footprint; taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible; and compensating for emissions that are unavoidable.
We are inviting attendees and exhibitors to join our conservation effort by offsetting the greehouse gas emissions generated by travel to and from New Orelans. You can opt in to select your contribution during the WEFTEC 2022 registration process.
Your contributions will be applied to purchasing Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) from the United Nations (UN) carbon offset platform. These CERs are generated from Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, which are in developing countries to offset unavoidable emissions or as a contribution to the global climate action. Carbon offset icons on conference badges will acknowledge contributors.
To reinforce our commitment to carbon neutrality, WEF will match your contributions up to $10,000.
Convention Center Upgrades
Also, since we have visited New Orleans last, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center began its Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification process. Begun in 2021, this assessment, when completed, will recognize the convention center as one of the largest “green” buildings in the U.S. Attaining this certification means, reducing energy use, water, and waste, and having a green and healthy facility for visitors.
New Lighting and Cooling
People returning to WEFTEC will notice a brighter and better lit exhibition. The convention center completely changed more than 5,000 exhibit hall light fixtures to LEDs in 2021. This project was one of the largest energy upgrades ever undertaken in the region. This change, along with behind-the-scenes LED lighting replacements and HVAC upgrades, will reduce building energy use by 10% to 15%. As bonus, the new lighting also looks great.
The convention center also rebuilt its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) plant with a new control room and operations center. This included replacing four 1,200-ton water cooled chillers with new high efficiency systems.
The restrooms also got an upgrade. Beyond the cosmetic improvements, the new facilities will significantly reduce water use. Each restroom is now outfitted with a water bottle filling station to refill your own personal water bottles. The building has more than 60 bottle filling stations in total.
Recycling is also provided for throughout the building, and in the exhibit halls. The convention center recycles cans, bottles, and paper for attendees and staff; and cardboard, plastic wrap, metal, and wooden pallets for exhibitors and contractors.
Eating More Sustainably
Centerplate, the convention center caterer, uses creative options to reduce food waste and their carbon footprint. Their actions include
- composting kitchen scraps during food preparation;
- a pilot composting program of served food that cannot be donated;
- a food donation program, certified by the Food Recovery Network, in partnership with Bethel Colony, a local non-profit that serves the community with the excess food from meetings and events at the convention center;
- using compostable serving items and utensils;
- phasing out plastic straws and silverware and
- using locally sourced food items.
Pedestrian Park for Stormwater Control
In 2021, the convention center opened a new 3-ha (7.5-ac) pedestrian park that converted two lanes of traffic into a lush green entrance and new outdoor event spaces. The park, up to 24-m-wide (80-ft-wide), includes walkways, a water feature, decorative lighting, and a mile-long tract of unique and varied spaces for outdoor events or to complement any indoor event at the convention center.
The park also manages stormwater by channeling rainwater into rain gardens, bio-swales, and tree plantings. These measures help reduce the effect of stormwater on the local drainage system and provide natural irrigation to plants and trees. More than 200 trees — primarily native species including oaks, magnolias, and sycamores — will eliminate 60 tons of carbon from the atmosphere over their lifetime and will produce as much oxygen as 2,000 people breathe in a year. At maturity, they will also reduce temperatures in the park by up to 5°C (9°F).