Orange County Convention Center
Florida convention center harnesses the sun to reduce carbon emissions
At a Glance
- 1.4 million — That’s how many people attend the 250-plus events hosted by the Orange County Convention Center every year. The challenge is to keep them comfortable in an energy-efficient way while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- 1.1 million — The number of kilowatt hours generated by the Convention Center’s solar photovoltaic systems — enough to meet the electricity needs of up to 100 homes for a year.
- 0 — The amount of greenhouse gases and air pollutants produced by the Convention Center’s solar panel arrays.
The challenge: Reducing carbon emissions in a high energy consumption facility
The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) is the second largest convention center in the United States. This facility in Orlando, Florida hosts more than 250 events a year attended by approximately 1.4 million people. Keeping all those people comfortable and making such a large facility run smoothly takes a considerable amount of energy. Sensitive to the problems of global warming and the potential environmental impact of their energy usage, Orange County leaders committed to making their facilities more energy-efficient and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. They put a plan in place to pursue green technologies such as solar power and to protect against climate change. To make the plan work, they needed to work with an organization with the experience and expertise to effectively deploy such technologies. So, they selected Johnson Controls to implement green building solutions.
The solution: Solar power arrays
Johnson Controls worked closely with the state and county to develop a solar power solution that would help them achieve their greenhouse gas reduction objectives. The company designed, managed, and installed five solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in various locations around Concourse South of the Convention Center. The scope of this $8.8 million project was considerable. One of the five PV arrays consists of nearly 6,000 solar panels. This 1.1-megawatt rooftop array covers an area equivalent to five football fields, and is the largest rooftop solar array in the Southeast. The other four smaller PV arrays are used for educational purposes. The Convention Center’s Climate Change Education Center gives visitors an opportunity to see how these four solar power arrays function in real time.
The solar panels had to do more than generate energy. Given the location of the Orange County Convention Center, they also needed to function in severe weather conditions. Johnson Controls installed the panels to withstand Category-3 hurricanes and temperatures of more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in a way that was not only secure but made the best use of rooftop space. Fittingly, the construction and installation were completed in time for the opening session of the 2009 Green Cities Florida Conference.
Results and benefits
The large rooftop solar PV array generates an estimated 1.1 kilowatt hours of power. That’s roughly enough electric power to meet the needs of up to 100 homes for a year. The solar array generates all this power without producing any greenhouse gases or air pollutants of any kind. The more energy the Convention Center can generate on its own, the less it has to buy, which has helped the OCCC reduce total energy costs significantly.
I want this project to show the world that Orange County embraces green technology. We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint while recruiting ‘clean tech’ companies that will help the world go green.
– Richard Crotty, Mayor, Orange County, FL
Johnson Controls can work with you to achieve your government energy efficiency and sustainability goals. Contact us to learn how to make your buildings work more efficiently, sustainably and profitably, or try our operations and energy savings calculator today.