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Carolinas: Going green brings silver LEED

Courtesy Wilmington Convention Center

WILMINGTON, N.C.— A Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver rating is one more selling point for the Wilmington Convention Center.

Planners in search of green venues will be swayed by its green features, among them carpets made from recycled materials, water-saving fixtures that cut water use by almost 50 percent, lighting and temperature controls meeting rooms and high-performance windows that save energy and provide views of the Cape Fear River.

Even without the rating, received in late 2011, the center has surpassed expectations for bookings in its first year, surprising those who believed the lack of an attached hotel would make bringing events there a challenge.

Officials agree an attached hotel will make drawing larger conventions easier, and negotiations are under way with a developer who plans to build an Embassy Suites hotel on convention center property. Also, ground was broken in October for a 124-room Courtyard by Marriott to open in early 2013 within walking distance of the center.

Even without an attached hotel, the center had 78 events and six conventions in its first year and has booked 114 events and nine conventions for 2012 and 92 events and nine conventions for 2013 (based on a July 1-June 30 fiscal year).