By Kevin Kurtt
The Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC) announced that its Plaza was awarded Silver certification under the Sustainable SITES Initiative rating system for achievement in landscape sustainability. The MCC Plaza is the nation’s first SITES certified project to be located at a convention center and the first ever SITES certified project in the Upper Midwest.
Administered by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), SITES promotes sustainable and resilient landscape development to enhance sustainability, implement green infrastructure strategies, and improve resilience.
To earn SITES Silver certification, the MCC Plaza demonstrated:
Long-term commitment to landscape sustainability
Reduction of outdoor water use and design of functional stormwater features
Conservation, restoration and use of native plant species
Reduction of urban heat island effects
Use of renewable sources for landscape electricity needs
Benefits for the community and public health
Located on the south side of downtown and designed by Damon Farber Landscape Architects for environmental sustainability, the 2.5-acre MCC Plaza features an urban meadow planted with native tree, wildflower, and prairie grass species to create downtown’s largest pollinator refuge. In addition, irrigation at the Plaza utilizes the Convention Center’s stormwater capture system. The redesigned Plaza was officially revealed to the public on Sept. 30, 2021.
“With the redesign of our Plaza, the Minneapolis Convention Center is proud to continue its leadership in sustainability and green building by being the site of the first project at a convention center to earn SITES certification in the United States,” said Jeff Johnson, MCC Executive Director. “This space, just outside our doors, better connects us to our downtown community with a welcoming and sustainable outdoor area that improves the quality of life for our environment as well as our visitors and residents.”
In addition to its SITES certification, the MCC is designated with LEED v4 Certification for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance, and the Green Meeting Industry Council recognizes the MCC as Leaders in Sustainability.
“Sustainable landscapes are essential to the wellbeing of all life,” said Peter Templeton, President and CEO, U.S. Green Building Council and GBCI. “These landscapes reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce urban heat islands, improve air quality and human health and increase outdoor recreation opportunities. With their SITES certification, the Minneapolis Convention Center demonstrates an acknowledgement of this reality and a commitment to improving spaces for its community.”
The $2.9 million redesign of the MCC Plaza resulted in a better event space with increased electrical distribution and improved flat space for catering, production, and socialization. The renovated outdoor area is on top of an underground parking ramp and includes a large lawn and patio deck, updated lighting, and new walkways and seating options, and provides more options for conference and convention groups at what is the largest convention center in the Upper Midwest.
Kevin Kurtt is Public Relations and Communications Manager for Meet Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association.