The Virginia Beach Visitor Information Center, owned by the City of Virginia Beach, has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR certification. This signifies that the center performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA.
With more than 50,000 visitors annually, the Visitor Information Center is often the first stop guests make as they enter the resort area and is an important component of the Convention & Visitors Bureau's efforts to make Virginia Beach a "Green Destination." Due for upgrades to the 20-year-old building, the center staff partnered with the Department of Public Works and completed the following actions to make the building more energy-efficient:
- Replaced the heating and air conditioning system
- Upgraded exterior parking lot fixtures and wall fixtures with energy-efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology
- Improved Interior lighting, included T-8 compact fluorescent lamps and LED fixtures, as well as motion-activated sensors that shut off lights during inactivity
- Installed programmable thermostats with the new heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, allowing temperature setbacks during unoccupied periods
- Installed timers on water heaters so water is only heated when the building is occupied
- Installed switches for the conference room promotional light boxes, allowing them to be turned off when the building is unoccupied
- Eliminated a vending machine
- Disconnected unnecessary electric strip heaters
Before the retrofits, the center had a baseline Energy Star Portfolio rating of 28. Once completed, the score rose to 82 by December 2011. This equated to an energy usage drop of approximately 38 percent, with an annual savings of more than $7,200.
"The Virginia Beach Visitor Information Center is pleased to accept EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification in recognition of commendable energy efficiency efforts,” said Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. "This achievement demonstrates the city’s commitment to environmental stewardship while also lowering our energy costs.”
Commercial buildings that earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “Improving the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings is critical to protecting our environment,” said Jean Lupinacci, chief of the ENERGY STAR Commercial & Industrial Branch. “From the boiler room to the board room, organizations are leading the way by making their buildings more efficient and earning EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification.”
The Visitor Information Center has also been certified “Virginia Green” for its other initiatives that include low-flow water fixtures and recycling. “Virginia Green” is the statewide program that works to reduce the environmental impacts of Virginia’s tourism industry. It is run as a partnership between the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association. Not only will the improvements to the center educate thousands of visitors who come to Virginia Beach every year, but our residents will also learn about the benefits of energy audits for their homes and businesses. As an additional educational tool, Virginia Beach Television (VBTV) taped City of Virginia Beach’s Certified Energy Auditor, Robert Maholchic, while performing his energy audit. The one-hour program is expected to air on VBTV this summer.
EPA’s ENERGY STAR energy performance scale helps organizations assess how efficiently their buildings use energy relative to similar buildings nationwide. Commercial buildings that can earn the ENERGY STAR include offices, bank branches, data centers, financial centers, retail stores, courthouses, hospitals, hotels, K-12 schools, medical offices, supermarkets, dormitories, houses of worship and warehouses.
ENERGY STAR was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved $18 billion on their energy bills while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 34 million vehicles.
For more information about ENERGY STAR Certification for Commercial Buildings, visit www.energystar.gov/labeledbuildings. For more information about the Virginia Beach Visitor Information Center, visit www.visitvirginiabeach.com.