The U.S. Green Building Council administers and awards certification for Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design designating structures created to enhance sustainability and increase efficiency. At a Monday ceremony, the Clarence Brown Conference Center was officially recognized as LEED Gold certified. There are four levels making up the tiers of the LEED program, certified, silver, gold and platinum.
"Gold level certification basically puts the Clarence Brown Center in the upper echelon of all LEED projects," said Krissa Igou of Lyman Davidson Dooley Architects. "For example, some numbers, in Georgia there are 259 LEED certified projects. ... Of those 259, 57, including the conference center, are LEED Gold certified and that's a pretty outstanding accomplishment.
"It is an internationally recognized building certification program for sustainable building. The LEED certificate recognizes and rewards sustainable building practices through the use and application of various design and construction methods."
Through efforts to increase energy efficiency, water conservancy and the use of recycled materials, project managers and designers were able to reach the gold level although original goals were set for silver.
"You set goals and you try to achieve those goals. ... On this particular project we set goals and as we went along, we found opportunities to gain points," said George Clackum, vice president of lead contractor Hogan Construction. "It is quite difficult to achieve the goals and the efficiencies and the recycling. You have the goals but you never really know if you're going to reach them. It takes a lot of hard work and constantly trying to reach your goals."
Clackum emphasized the difficulty in attaining such levels and explained how points were gained. One requirement for gold certification is the use of local materials for at least 30 percent of construction needs. The proximity to textiles, mining and other manufacturers enabled the sourcing of local materials. At least 20 percent of construction materials used were recycled materials and 94 percent of debris created during construction was diverted from landfills for other uses.
"It's not an easy thing to get, it's certainly difficult and a lot of people worked very hard," said Paul Hogan, president of Hogan Construction. "Companies don't build buildings, it's people that build buildings and it's people that make these projects successful.
"Our goal is always to make our building owners successful and as you walk through this building, built with energy and sustainability in mind, I hope you would agree that we've made that happen."
Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown thanked all of those involved from the planning and exploration committee to the design and construction. He made special note of the Cartersville City Council and their willingness to participate in a cost sharing agreement for operational costs but the conference center has thus far paid for itself.
Brown cited Executive Director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau Ellen Archer for specific numbers relating to the conference center's financial impact. Attracting 45,340 visitors, the Clarence Brown Conference Center has generated $2.4 million within the local economy with 4,500 room nights attributed to the conference center and $72,330 generated in local taxes.