MINNEAPOLIS—When it rains on the 1.6 million square foot Minneapolis Convention Center, that water is collected in an underground rainwater storage area that holds up to 250,000 gallons of water. According to Jessica Klimisch, Marketing Manager for MCC, that water is used for irrigation around MCC and diverts an estimated 5.4 million gallons of runoff annually from the Mississippi River. The rainwater collection system is just one of many green initiatives at the LEED Certified MCC. For example, kitchen areas and restrooms have been upgraded with fixtures that use 50 percent less water.
Atop the center are 2,613 solar panels that provide 5 percent of MCC’s electricity. The remaining 95 percent of MCC’s power needs are met from Xcel Energy’s locally sourced wind and solar energy. Fifty percent of lighting has been upgraded to LED in recent years and the remaining 50 percent will be converted in the next 18 months.
High speed roll-up doors have been installed to reduce energy loss during event load in and load out activity. Building HVAC and lighting systems are continuously upgraded with efficient controls and fixtures.
Helping to further reduce MCC’s carbon footprint, most staff commute to work by bike, public transportation or carpool. Minneapolis has a Nice Ride bike sharing system and bike racks are available near most building entrances. Metro Transit provides a free shuttle to link MCC to downtown hospitality and the light rail. Light-rail transit connects Minneapolis with the airport, Mall of America, Saint Paul and 43 other stations.
No Idling Policy for All Trucks
To ensure a high level of air quality, MCC promotes a no idling policy for all trucks loading in or out of the center. Smoking is not permitted within 25’ of any entrance, and internal air quality is monitored and recorded to maintain a safe environment for attendees.
MCC has a 60 percent waste diversion rate. Front of house recycling stations recycle cardboard, paper, organics, cans and bottles, pallets, cooking oil, tablecloths, sheet plastic, shrink wrap, carpet, wood, aggregate and landscape debris. All single use food containers and utensils used on site are compostable. Non-consumed foods go to local nonprofit organizations like People Serving People. Approximately four tons of food is donated each year. A total of 160 tons of organics and food scraps are used for hog fee and composting. Klimisch says MCC pays to have the food scraps picked up. Used grease is recycled for biodiesel and soap.
Food served at MCC is sourced locally whenever possible. Almost all cleaning products used are Green Seal Certified. Floor care equipment uses Orbio Split Steam and Blended Stream Technology which converts water, electricity and a small amount of salt to clean surfaces without chemicals.
When asked what percentage of the center’s meetings she believes are scheduled there because of the sustainability initiatives, Klimisch said, “Meeting planners in general have an expectation that a convention center will have sustainability initiatives in their operations so it’s not normally a deciding factor for event planners. We see a positive reaction to our efforts, especially food waste initiatives, from both planners and attendees, however it’s not a direct reason for an event to choose our facility.”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.