After renovations of the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center were completed in early 2012, the civic center hoped to see a 25 percent reduction in energy use, but it actually saw a reduction of 39.4 percent.

The 232,000-square-foot facility was built in 1967, and being 40 years old, the original equipment became unreliable after long outliving its 20-year expected life. “We were having high demand for our exhibition hall and auditorium, and we just couldn’t continue with the equipment that we had,” says Ann Marie Moraitakis, director of the civic center.

Although the updates were overdue, the Atlanta Civic Center faced capital budget constraints. The $2.1 million in renovations were made possible by a partnership between the City of Atlanta and Atlanta Gas Light with the first contract under the Georgia Sustainable Environmental Economic Development program. The city turned one of its highest energy users into a showcase facility with reduced greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs.

Prior to the updates, the civic center’s annual energy costs exceeded $500,000. “We went from number 10 down to number 21 in ranking of municipal energy users, even though we are larger than many facilities,” Moraitakis says. “We are on track to save $200,000 in 2013.”

The installation of a highly efficient HVAC system made a considerable impact on the civic center’s energy use. The exhibition hall was set up with individual zone controls, and a Web-based automation system was added to the entire complex. “Atlanta temperatures and our facility needs vary,” Moraitakis says. “Our startup/shutdown and demand-control ventilation allows us 24-hour access to the system from any computer. This is especially helpful in managing our energy use during our facility’s unoccupied time periods.”

The Atlanta Civic Center used to be an all-electric building, but several of the new systems use natural gas, including the replacement of inefficient 1,500-gallon electric water heaters with two gas-condensing water heaters.

Lighting contractor E. Sam Jones replaced the incandescent lighting in the auditorium with LED screw-in dimmable lights that are 82 percent more efficient. The remaining lights were changed out for high-efficiency T8 fluorescent fixtures, and motion sensors were installed in rooms throughout the building.

During construction, all materials that were removed were processed through a recycling center. The building’s rubber floors are reclaimed, and the bathroom partitions and countertops are made from recycled milk cartons. Moraitakis says, “The milk cartons makes a nice composite piece because they are easy to clean and to maintain.”