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New conference centre opens after year of renovations

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Green roof gone but greener building emerges

For almost a year Whistler has waited to see what the reincarnation of the conference centre would look like.

For most the only hint of the extensive work going on inside was the noise and the trucking away of waste.

These pages offer a glimpse of the work in progress over the last year. The project was carefully documented by Tourism Whistler, not just for posterity but also as part of their quest for recognition from the Green Building Rating System’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

"We are confident in its existing form it will qualify for a LEED rating and we are certainly hoping for a Gold rating," said Barrett Fisher, interim president of Tourism Whistler.

It’s likely the U.S. Green Building Council, which awards the ratings, will visit in the coming months and determine which level of LEED the building will receive.

The renovation plans for the conference centre are to be done in two phases. With the gala opening Saturday Phase I is complete.

Funding for Phase II is being sought but, said Fisher: "If we were not successful in attracting new funding we feel very confident that the existing Phase I takes us to a level where we need to be for the long term."

To qualify for a LEED rating buildings must use state of the art strategies for sustainable site development. They must demonstrate water savings, energy efficiency, and the use of natural, recycled products and certified products.

During deconstruction 92 per cent of the materials were recycled, including 1,700 tons of concrete, 4.5 tons of carpet and 32 tons of reinforcing steel. And a new roof made of 80 per cent recycled material, which will achieve high levels of solar reflectivity due to the light-coloured materials, will reduce the "heat island:" effect in Whistler.

Tourism Whistler research has shown that offering facilities which act and are built in a sustainable manner is becoming more and more important in winning conference business.

"We want to lead the way and we ensured that it was an important part of the renovation and it will be something we do market to meeting planners," said Fisher.

"And we believe it will become more and more important as we look forward."

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