Albuquerque, NM— Throwing a shovel full of dirt to symbolize the work on the Albuquerque Convention Center for the next 10 months, Mayor Richard J. Berry officially kicked off the work Monday morning.

“This latest construction is what people are going to notice the most,” Mayor Berry said. “When we’re complete, the Albuquerque Convention Center will be a place for both out of town visitors as well as our neighbors as a place to enjoy.”

The 12.95 million dollar project addresses both exterior and interior upgrades to the aging west side of the center, including a new 5,600 square foot addition consisting of a new large entrance vestibule, small retail space and outdoor deck.

Inside improvements include new floor, wall and ceiling finishes, new LED lighting, and a gas fireplace in the atrium area. 3rd Street between Tijeras and Marquette will also be reconstructed as part of this phase.

“The 3rd Street reconstruction improves pedestrian flow between the Convention Center and the Harry E. Kinney Civic Plaza,” Municipal Development Director Michael Riordan said. “This will give us a more connected feel between the two facilities”

Work is scheduled until late summer 2014. Local contractor Bradbury Stamm has committed to working around the already booked events over the next 10 months with minimal disruptions. Local design firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini designed both phases of construction.

PNM was also present at the news conference, where Chairman, President and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn presented Mayor Berry with a PNM energy efficiency rebate check for $56,476 for lighting upgrades installed during phase one of the project.

“The project is more than a strong economic boost for the city- it will provide the ongoing benefit of saving energy,” said Vincent-Collawn. “The city has incorporated energy efficiency features into the plan, which is not only the right thing to do, it saves taxpayers money, and helps protect our environment.”

The energy savings from the Convention Center, coupled with previous energy savings equates to a total of more than $316,000 in energy efficiency rebates, that’s: Enough energy to power 790 homes, more than half a million dollars in energy costs per year, more than 2 million gallons of water used for energy production, and the savings have reduced carbon emissions by more than 3,100 tons per year-the equivalent of taking 581 cars off the road.