$40M Roof Replacement Underway at Convention Center

1363 16500 Sqft Of Coating
Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is replacing 1.9 million square feet of traditional roofing with a new roofing system designed to be energy efficient. The $40 million roof replacement project is part of a $557 million capital improvement plan and will be under construction until mid-2024. 

“We are taking a comprehensive approach to enhancing and transforming our massive facilities in order to elevate the visitor experience and reduce our environmental footprint here at the Convention Center — from new technology inside to new exterior greenspaces and a fantastic new heat-deflecting roof,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center president/CEO. “This is an essential upgrade to not only improve and protect our facilities, but also to significantly advance our sustainability goals.”  

Using new commercial roofing technology, robots have begun spraying polyurethane foam insulation directly onto the roof’s surface. The center says this will “maximize efficiency, safety and savings.” The coating of insulation is expected to raise the energy efficiency rating, or R-value, by nearly 10 points. Once insulated, a “cool roof” material will seal the upgraded system. The highly reflective sheen will divert heat away from the building. It’s similar to a process used on the roof of the Caesar’s Superdome and is said to be especially effective in urban areas where temperatures are usually higher than in suburban and rural areas. 

The new roof project is part of the Convention Center’s sustainability initiative. The facility hopes to maintain its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification status while still meeting all requirements for durability and safety in all weather conditions, including hurricanes. In addition, the contractors are recycling approved materials from the previous roof. The existing rock ballast has already been cleaned and reused in parking lots. The center says recycling this material has saved approximately 1,600 tons of rocks from landfills. The center is also improving select gutters and downspouts so they can continue to divert up to 90 percent of rainwater runoff directly into the Mississippi River.

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority authorized funding for the roof project in January 2023.  

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