New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCCNO) Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Linda Baynham was recently recognized as one of five local Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) Champions by New Orleans and Company, the city’s destination marketing organization. Honored during the weeklong celebration, NTTW champions are individuals in the industry who are passionate about their chosen field and create positive impacts in the community. Each of the five champions represents a different sector of the hospitality and tourism industry.
As Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Baynham establishes company-wide sustainability and corporate social responsibility goals for the Convention Center. She reaches these goals through the Center’s recycling programs and its energy and water reduction initiatives, and she works closely with internal and external partners to implement sustainability programs.
In 2022, Baynham led the Convention Center team through its first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, the first convention center in the world to achieve this standard under the latest guidelines. Under the current leadership, the Convention Center has diverted more than 250,000 pounds from landfills, donated over 110,000 pounds of food to local organizations and installed 5,000 LED light fixtures to reduce energy by 10-15%.
This spring, Baynham expanded green options for visitors and clients through zero-waste meal options, plastic-free and biodegradable serving ware and landfill-less lunches. She doubled the footprint of the recycling program, adding several new recycling streams, such as plastic and glass. She also initiated the installation of EV chargers and facilitated bringing in over $500,000 in utility incentives for energy upgrades.
“The Convention Center recognizes the importance of having the best people lead, and Linda is a testament to that standard,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center president. “She is a proven asset for the New Orleans tourism industry and the Convention Center, and her leadership was the driving force behind our earning LEED gold certification in 2022. We are thrilled to see Linda receive this recognition for her tremendous impact on the industry, and I am confident she will continue to enact change here and in the surrounding community.”
“Linda has worked across departments to coordinate programs, reduce impacts and increase options for events to ‘go green,’” said Adam J. Straight, vice president of operations. “She has also taken a leading role in encouraging other facilities, by regularly conducting tours for industry colleagues highlighting energy upgrades, waste initiatives and LEED certification. She also continuously educates herself on the latest processes so that we are always on the forefront of this increasingly vital aspect of our industry.”
Baynham holds an M.B.A. in finance from Tulane University, an M.S. in energy policy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. in physics from Colorado College. Baynham is a LEED Accredited Professional, a Certified Energy Manager and a GPRO Green Building Operations Trainer. She has more than 20 years of experience in the environmental, energy and utility sectors.
“It is an honor to be recognized alongside my peers working to elevate the New Orleans tourism industry,” said Baynham. “I look forward to delivering more Convention Center events and experiences that prioritize sustainability and recycling. And my team and I will continue to pursue new initiatives to help reduce the environmental impacts of our facility.”
For more information on the Convention Center and its sustainability initiatives, visit https://mccno.com/sustainability.