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Venues & Destinations
Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center Earns LEED Recertification, Announces New Hires
The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center has successfully earned LEED® recertification, maintaining its LEED for Existing Buildings Gold status. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the foremost program for buildings that support improved environmental and human health performance.
Owned by Broward County and managed by SMG, the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center was the first convention center in Florida and the third in the nation to earn LEED Gold. The Convention Center’s initial certification in 2012 and its recertification in 2018 were a result of the extensive collaboration between Broward County and SMG. The two have been partners in the Convention Center’s operation for more than 25 years.
“Since first earning LEED Gold in 2012, our team has been steadfast in implementing and maintaining environmentally friendly business practices including saving water and energy, increasing recycling and waste diversion efforts, and conducting sustainable purchasing,” said SMG Sustainable Programs Manager Julia Johnson, the Convention Center's full-time LEED AP+ Professional. “Our facility continues to exceed LEED standards for healthy, efficient and environmentally responsible buildings.”
Among the Convention Center’s green initiatives are: water conservation through low-flow plumbing fixtures that reduce water consumption; landscaping consisting of native, drought-resistant plants and an efficient micro-drip system, which provides precise irrigation and prevents over-watering; energy-efficient lighting that reduces heat and conserves energy; upgraded air-handling and ventilation systems that enhance indoor air quality and use less power; and temperature and lighting controls that regulate energy usage.
Additionally, recycling at the Convention Center increased from 8 percent in 2009 to 78 percent in 2017. Its food and beverage department, SAVOR Fort Lauderdale, practices energy-efficient food preparation and purchases locally grown ingredients when possible. Leftover food is donated to local food banks and all organic waste is disposed of in an Eco-Safe® Digester, resulting in almost no organic waste in landfills.
“Achieving LEED certification is more than implementing sustainable practices. It represents a commitment to making the world a better place and influencing others to do better,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC. "Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection and the central role of the building industry in that effort, SMG demonstrates their leadership through their LEED certification of the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.”
Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center Appoints Assistant General Manager and Director of Event Services
SMG, the operator of the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, recently welcomed Renee Browning as Assistant General Manager and promoted Ashley York to Director of Event Services at the 600,000-square-foot multipurpose facility.
Assistant General Manager Renee Browning
With more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Browning joins the Convention Center from Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Ala., where she served as Assistant Director of Sales. In her new position, she will oversee sales initiatives between the Convention Center and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Conventions & Visitors Bureau.
Browning is a returning team member of SMG, having previously overseen the sales and marketing initiatives for 17 facilities in SMG’s Convention Center Division as Regional Director of Sales and Marketing.
“Renee’s extensive experience in the meetings and conventions industry is an undeniable asset for our team,” said Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center General Manager Mark Gatley. “We are excited to welcome Renee to Fort Lauderdale and look forward to sharing many successes.”
Browning is a graduate of Northwestern State University. She served on the Board of Directors for the Alabama Travel Council and Southeast International Association of Exhibitions and Events. She resides in Fort Lauderdale with her golden retrievers, Thor and Max.
Director of Event Services Ashley York
Ashley York joined the SMG team as an event manager in 2012, working her way up the ranks to Senior Event Manager in 2017. In her new position as Director of Event Services, she will lead a team of four event managers, oversee event planning processes and logistics for a variety of large-scale clients, and ensure the success of meetings and conventions hosted at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
“Ashley navigates her leadership role with skillfulness and poise beyond her years. Her colleagues continue to be inspired by her enthusiasm and commitment to making our facility one of the most sought-after destinations for meeting planners around the world. We’re truly lucky to have her,” Gatley said.
With more than 10 years of experience in the hospitality industry, York has managed event services at the Littlejohn Coliseum at Clemson University, Clemson University Conference Center & Inn, the Palm Beach County Convention Center and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).
She is currently enrolled in IAVM’s Venue Management School (VMS), one of the best professional education programs available for venue managers. The VMS program spans two years and the curriculum covers event management, marketing and advertising, crowd management, the guest experience, leadership and image, cost control, risk management and insurance and strategic business planning. She will graduate from the VMS program this year.
York earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Clemson University and resides in Fort Lauderdale.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau Appoints New Senior Vice President of Convention Sales & Services
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors announced today that Ed Simon will be joining the Bureau, as Senior Vice President of Convention Sales & Services, for the destination, as of February 26, 2018.
Simon brings more than 20 years of leadership experience and business development within the hospitality industry. His depth of industry knowledge and his proven ability to generate significant sales production, as well as build high-performance sales teams, will be key to growing the destination’s customer base for the Broward County Convention Center and the destination’s lodging sector.
“Ed’s market expertise, industry connections and sales abilities fit perfectly with our goals to aggressively promote Greater Fort Lauderdale as a top-tier convention destination and drive greater market share in quality meetings, group, convention and exhibition business, said Stacy Ritter, President/CEO, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “He is a great addition to the Bureau in this leadership capacity.”
Prior to joining the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Simon created and launched the Association Meeting Buyers Collective, a first-of-its-kind membership based organization to enhance the buying power for the association industry. Before AMBC, he was vice president of sales for Destination Hotels, with more than 40 prestigious properties coast to coast, where he was responsible for the redevelopment and execution of brand-wide national sales strategies, led a team of 10 national sales professionals and doubled the company’s national sales revenue in two years. Other key positions held by Simon include VP of Sales and Marketing at Remington Hotels and Regional VP of Sales at Associated Luxury Hotels International.
In his role at the CVB, he will lead the strategic and tactical efforts for the significant expansion of the Broward County Convention Center including an additional 500,000 square feet of meeting space and an upscale 800-room headquarters hotel, to maximize the economic value of these important tourism assets for Greater Fort Lauderdale.
“With development at its peak, and a growing international reputation for Greater Fort Lauderdale, the timing is ideal to launch a determined and fresh approach to group sales development. I’m excited to join the innovators at the Bureau to help lead a new pathway to success,” said Simon.
Simon joins the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors at time when the destination is experiencing significant growth in hotels in all lodging categories, expansion programs and new flights at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and terminal and cruise line developments at Port Everglades cruise port.
About Greater Fort Lauderdale
From the seagrass to the sawgrass, Greater Fort Lauderdale, located in Broward County, boasts more than 34,000 lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts, and Superior Small Lodgings reflecting a vibrant cosmopolitan vibe. Visitors enjoy 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches, discover 300+ miles of inland waterways that run from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Everglades, dine at thousands of restaurants and eateries, get immersed in a thriving arts and culture scene and indulge in top shopping.
For more information, contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 22-SUNNY or visit www.sunny.org.
For more information about the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, visit www.ftlauderdalecc.com.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary and founded in 1977, SMG provides management services to 233 public assembly facilities including convention and exhibition centers, arenas, stadiums, theaters, performing arts centers, amphitheaters, equestrian facilities, science centers and a variety of other venues. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 15 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 1.5 million sports and entertainment seats. As the recognized global industry leader, SMG provides venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming, construction and design consulting, and pre-opening services for such landmark facilities as McCormick Place & Soldier Field in Chicago, Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Houston’s NRG Park and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. SMG also offers food and beverage operations through its concessions and catering companies, currently serving more than 140 accounts worldwide. For more information visit www.smgworld.com.
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