The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is an exceptional facility which draws many visitors from around the country. Architect Rafael Vinoly designed the building to be tailored to the City of Pittsburgh, with features that balance both aesthetic quality and operational efficiency.
The Convention Center graces the City skyline with a design inspired by the great bridges of Pittsburgh. It was the first convention center in the United States built with a strong commitment to environmental principles such as natural lighting and ventilation, water reclamation, and recycling.
In November 2003, the Convention Center received a Gold LEED for New Construction Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council
(USGBC). At the time, it was the largest green building in the world. In May 2012, the Convention Center received a Platinum certification under the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system. It is the first convention center to achieve this ranking, and is also the first to earn certifications under two separate LEED rating systems.
The Convention Center is managed and operated for the SEA by SMG now ASM
, a company that specializes in the management of convention centers. The General Manager of the Convention Center is Tim Muldoon.
For more information and upcoming events, please visit the Convention Center
Food and catering services are provided exclusively for the Convention Center by Levy Premium Foodservice Limited Partnership, an Illinois limited partnership.
For more information please visit the website for Levy Restaurants
Veolia Water North America – Northeast, LLC operates the Chilled Water Plant, which provides the chilled water that supplies the air conditioning system running throughout the Convention Center.
Veolia also operates the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which collects and treats all wastewater from sanitary potable uses. The water is then recycled throughout the building for toilet flushing.
Green Building Features
Pittsburgh's Convention Center is the first environmentally friendly building of its kind. In November 2003, the facility received a Gold Certification under the LEED™ for New Construction rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council
(USBGC) and became the largest green building in the United States.
In May 2012, the Convention Center received a Platinum® certification under the LEED rating system for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance™ and re-certified as Platinum® in 2017. It is the first convention center to achieve this ranking, and is also the first to earn certifications under two separate LEED™ rating systems.
Pittsburgh routinely finds itself rated amongst the “greenest” cities in the nation. In 2015 Pittsburgh was 12th among metro areas in per capita LEED™ buildings (square feet/person), with more square feet added every year. When the Convention Center was first built, Pittsburgh had four LEED™ projects totaling over 2.4 million square feet. The Convention Center comprised nearly 60% of the city's total green buildings at the time. As of 2017, there are over 150 commercial and residential LEED™ certified projects in Pittsburgh.
Because of its commitment to environmental practices, the Convention Center is a leader in the green event industry, generating revenues for both the facility and the region. Green-seeking conventions have brought $252 million dollars in direct spending to the Pittsburgh region from 2006 through 2016, representing 22% of all direct spending generated by the Convention Center. In 2017, the Convention Center received the APEX Level II Certification from the Green Meeting Industry Council™ for meeting environmentally sustainable benchmarks for environmental performance in meetings and events.
No other convention center in the country incorporates so many green technologies. The Convention Center's unique building features include:
- Natural day-lighting
- Natural ventilation
- Water reclamation
- Comprehensive recycling program
- Sustainable site, materials, and resources
- A commitment to maintaining healthy indoor environmental quality
As of 2015, the Convention Center keeps more than 60.3% of its event waste out of landfills through recycling, composting, and donating usable materials. It also uses 28% less energy than the average entertainment sector building, and 30% of electricity comes from renewable sources.
In relation to water usage, only 17% of the Convention Center’s water use comes from municipal sources. In 2015, the amount of recycled water that went through its wastewater treatment plant could fill over 7 Olympic-size swimming pools.
The SEA prepares an annual Green Report detailing the sustainable features and operation of the building, which can be found here
In November 2011, the Convention Center completed a two-year case study process that provided financial justification for building performance, facility management, occupant satisfaction, and organizational sustainability. The study was the first of its kind and had three goals:
- Understand the ROI and develop the business case for the building’s high performance design and for ongoing operational initiatives,
- Leverage LEED-EBOM as a tool to refocus the Convention Center’s commitment to sustainability and to establish innovative thought leadership and capitalize on market recognition, and
- Research industry best practices and performance to benchmark progress against internal goals and externalstandards.
A thorough set of analyses contributed to the findings, including quantitative and qualitative assessments on systems including: energy, natural ventilation, water, site, transportation, waste, purchasing, commissioning, and occupant comfort. The research team also went beyond typical post- occupancy metrics to examine corporate culture, organization learning, stakeholder perceptions and marketing initiatives related to sustainability. The project was coordinated by the Green Building Alliance and funded by the Heinz Endowments, with support from the SEA. The case study team included: evolve environment::architecture, CJL Engineering, the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics as CMU, and Civil and Environmental Consultants. Click here
to read the full report.
South Terrace Green Roof
The South Terrace Green Roof, which opened in May 2012, operates as both a programmable, outdoor event space and an important component of the Convention Center's environmental initiatives. Click here
to view the press release. When the 20,000 square foot roof was built, 73% of the former roof materials were recycled or donated, and 60% of purchased materials met sustainable requirements.
The South Terrace Green Roof is evidence of the Convention Center's commitment to environmentally-conscious practices. Green roofs store up to 80% of rainfall during a storm, lessening the burden on municipal drainage systems. In addition, it is estimated that the plants on the South Terrace Green Roof will remove 680 pounds of particulate matter pollution from the air each year—an amount equal to the annual air pollution generated by 255 cars.
The urban heat island effect (the disproportionate increase in summer temperatures in densely developed areas as a result of conventional asphalt and concrete materials heating in the sun) will be reduced due to its white pavers, which are made of a high-SRI (solar reflective index) material, and the plants themselves, through the natural evapotranspiration processes. Studies show that on the hottest of Pittsburgh days, a green roof remains fifty degrees cooler than a conventional roof.
The roof contains dozens of types of horticulture, including species native to Southwestern Pennsylvania, which help restore and protect natural habitat, and Sedum species, which are non-invasive, hardy, adaptive species used on many green roofs.
One of the most unique features about the green roof is that it is programmable, rentable space. If you would like to rent the space for your event, please contact Chad Ford at 412-325-6158 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Convention Center Hotel
The Authority continues to explore opportunities for the development of a convention center headquarter hotel.
Existing tenants include a Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop, CobblerWorld baked goods store, Bike the Gap bicycle tours store,
and YouthPlaces after-school programming center.