Century Center Moves Forward With Innovative Green Initiatives
Green is all the rage, but at Century Center South Bend, it’s more than just a fad.
SMG Worldwide, the new management company hired to take over the city's 225,000 square-foot facility, is committed to offering the community a sustainable option, with planned improvements including a pedestrian-friendly green roof and an extensive lighting retrofit.
Greening the Bend, a local conservation group, is the driving force behind a rooftop garden above the South Bend Museum of Art to be used for museum events, the center and the community.
Greening the Bend sponsored a Rain Barrel Ball to raise funds for the project, which is estimated to cost about $300,000. It is hoped that the garden will be funded with 100 percent private donations.
“We needed a new roof anyway and this is a very attractive option,” according to Scott Herczeg, Director of Operations.
He said it is a very visible public space that can be used for everything from cocktail parties to museum tours. Kathleen Petitjean, executive director of Greening the Bend, said the group hopes to promote green spaces and at the same time protect natural resources. Rain barrels were painted by local schoolchildren and were auctioned at the ball.
Herczeg said the center is working with Mike Keen, director of the Center for a Sustainable Future at IU South Bend, to plan an herb garden in the skywalk located between the Doubletree Hotel and Century Center.
A major lighting project is underway, beginning with new LED lighting in the Convention Hall. Herczeg said the result is a much warmer ambiance with the capability of dimming the entire space. He said they have seen an 86 percent reduction in electrical usage since the installation. The new lighting not only allows more warmth, but also more light. He said the amount of light being produced in that area actually has doubled. Jonathan Burke, Municipal Energy Director for the City of South Bend, said the lighting project at Century Center has been completed. He said total energy savings have been estimated at more than $20,000 per year. Other savings have been realized because the lighting project reduced the electrical load in terms of air conditioning.
An employee for 31 years, Herczeg said energy conservation has been a priority for some time. He said the Century Center Board of Management has considered it critical and efforts have been made in the past several years through new chillers, boilers, water heaters and low-flow fixtures in the restrooms.
SMG also has a sustainability commitment throughout the system, according to Crista Thompson, Director of Sales & Marketing. It emphasizes energy efficiency, water and air quality and water conservations throughout the venues it operates. The David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania has Platinum and Gold LEED Certification – the highest LEED certification. Twelve other facilities, including Solider Field in Chicago, have LEED certifications.