By Carolyn Campbell and Mariauna Hernandez
Houston First Corp. continues to lead the charge in building sustainability as the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB) recently achieved its first-ever LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
This year marks a tremendous milestone for the GRB as the 35-year-old building is not being recognized for its construction and design, but its sustainability, maintenance, and operational efforts. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the GRB qualified for the highest version of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification–v4.1–because of its documented building standards.
“Our industry-leading entertainment and convention venues are constantly evolving to exceed expectation, and this latest accolade further solidifies our commitment to healthy and sustainable practices,” said Houston First Corp. President and CEO Michael Heckman. “We are fortunate to have partners like Levy Restaurants and TDIndustries who work alongside us providing support and assistance so that we continue making improvements that protect and benefit our community and our future.”
Previously achieving LEED Silver in 2011 and recertification in 2017, the GRB was critiqued in areas including energy conservation, waste reduction, indoor air quality improvement, and water conversation for this year’s certification. The LEED rating system recognizes buildings that excel in sustainability through construction, design, and operation practices that improve environmental and human health.
The Houston First Corp. management team has implemented various processes to decrease the facility’s carbon footprint, some of which encourage GRB guests to make more sustainable choices such as utilizing compostable utensils or refillable water bottle stations, and learning about the venue’s hydro garden program, which spotlights the environmental impact of sourcing local produce.
In addition to greener facility methods, Houston First Corp. also works with local non-profits like Second Servings who assists with delivering unserved food from GRB events to more than 90 local shelters, soup kitchens, and charities. Some of the donated items are also repurposed or redistributed as materials for art and construction projects.
“Transforming our buildings and spaces happens one project at a time. The George R. Brown Convention Center understands the value of LEED and has shown extraordinary leadership in reshaping the market,” U.S. Green Building Council President and CEO Peter Templeton said. “The success of LEED is due to the partnership and support of those committed to advancing green buildings and sustainability. Each new LEED certification brings us one step closer to revolutionizing the spaces where we live, learn, work, and play.”
Carolyn Campbell is Director of Communications and Mariauna Hernandez is Corporate Communications Manager for Houston First.