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Green Meeting Industry Council
2025 M Street, N.W. Suite 800
Washington, D.C.

Destination Spotlight - June 2013
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Destination Spotlight

Get to know our member destinations. Every month we profile a different destination who helps to make the GMIC community so unique.

How do you communicate you city’s sustainability commitment to meeting organizers?How does this support your ability to attract meetings into your area?

Meeting planners today expect destinations to provide green meetings. In fact, of the events booked at Moscone Center, roughly half now are engaged in sustainability planning and require comprehensive sustainability post-show reporting.

San Francisco is a recognized pioneer in sustainability and was awarded "Greenest City in North America" in the first North American Green Cities Index:

What sustainable attribute are you most proud of within your city and sets your city apart from other cities?

In December 2011, San Francisco was named a recipient of the World Green Building Council’s Government Leadership Awards for Excellence in City Policy for Green Building:;jsessionid=70A45AD5C61D861744CA7E2949A994DA?id=27 -

SF has a high percentage of green buildings. This Google map shows the green buildings in the city as well as many buildings that are LEED certified: -

USGBC's annual event, Greenbuild 2012, recognized in their post-show report, several attributes of San Francisco:

  • A robust public transportation system, allowing rail access from SFO or Oakland Airports in 30-45 minutes.
  • Downtown walkability with over 30,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the Moscone Center.
  • Citywide waste recycling and composting system, achieving 80% diversion from landfill.
  • The city’s Food Service Waste Reduction Ordinance requires that restaurants and other food service businesses use compostable or recyclable food service containers and utensils. Stores are prohibited from distributing Styrofoam containers or plastic bags.
  • 92% of the city’s taxi fleet is comprised of hybrid or compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. San Francisco’s Clean Air Taxi Program has, since 1990, almost doubled the size of its fleet while achieving a 10% total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • San Francisco’s municipal facilities are powered through the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s CleanPowerSF program, where electricity is generated from GHG-free, renewable energy sources.

Moscone Center has achieved LEED® Gold certification, the first convention center on the West Coast to attain the green building honor, LEED for Existing Buildings 2009 Gold Certification. This is the city’s largest municipally owned green building and the first convention center on the West Coast to earn LEED for Existing Buildings 2009 Gold Certification. See:

How does your CVB/City support sustainable events (minimizing negative impacts and maximizing positive contributions in the local community) to help event organizers?

San Francisco is one of the most walkable cities in America. Over 30,000 hotel rooms are located within walking distance from SF's Moscone Center. Walkable sidewalks and pedestrian friendly gardens and parks in the Yerba Buena Gardens District also surround the convention center.

To help plan a trip in the San Francisco Bay Area which utilizes public transit, attendees can explore route options and obtain real time departures, schedules, maps and fares at's TripPlanner tool online, see link given below. The site features

  • The Trip Planners tool which enables riders to choose the option to walk a leg of their trip, set maximum walking distance and set walking speed.
  • A complete website for bicyclists including a bike mapper tool to plan a bike trip anywhere in the Bay Area
  • 511 Traffic map providing complete real time traffic information on traffic maps and up to date constriction alerts.
  • Rail systems, including cable car, BART, Caltrain and commuter rails, VTA light rail, and MUNI metro.
  • Departure Times texting. Request and receive Departure Times by SMS/Texting. By sending a simple text message, attendees can receive a response message that includes up to three predictions for each route that serves a chosen stop.

A robust public transportation system, allowing rail access from SFO or Oakland Airports in 30-45 minutes. SFO Airport operates Air Train, an automated people mover linking the Airport’s terminals, short-term parking garages and Rental Car Center. Air Train replaced the airport’s diesel-powered rental car shuttle buses, operating 600 round trips per day. Powered by clean hydro electricity, Air Train eliminates all emissions for a service used by a quarter of Airport customers. For more info about SFO's clean vehicle policy: -

BART, the near-zero-emission regional electric rail system, operates direct to the SFO International Terminal and connects SF to all of the East Bay, including Oakland, Berkeley and 35 miles north to Pittsburgh/Bay Point and 35 miles south to Fremont. BART carries 10% of SFO air passengers and numerous employees. Almost 30% of air passengers traveling to and from the East Bay use BART. Click for BART general information. Click for information on bike parking at BART.

Caltrain connects San Francisco to the south, serving dozens of stations located between San Francisco and the 80-mile route to Gilroy. Stations include Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountainview, Santa Clara and San Jose. Caltrain General info here. Click for info on bike parking at Caltrain stations.

The city of San Francisco is very bicycle friendly. The SF Bicycle Coalition, an all-volunteer organization, was also responsible for some of the strongest requirements for indoor bicycle parking and public event attended bicycle parking in the country:

Information also at

92% of the city’s taxi fleet is comprised of hybrid or compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. San Francisco’s Clean Air Taxi Program has, since 1990, almost doubled the size of its fleet while achieving a 10% total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions: -

What solutions do you provide to help event organizers with waste diversion (venue recycling, composting, donation programs, etc).

Every event held in San Francisco is required to provide recycling and composting service. SF's Dept of the Environment offers special assistance and signage to help events comply with the Mandatory Composting and Recycling Ordinance: -

The SFTA promotes Moscone Center's Green Meetings webpage, which offers planners and exhibitors two quarterly downloadable sustainability publications, "Meeting Professionals Green Guide" and "Exhibitors Green Guide".

This year, San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA), launched a new initiative, the installation of banners on street poles around Moscone Center made of an eco-friendly material called EkoFlex. For more information on environmentally preferable banner sourcing:

How do you support local community organizations and facility CSR project support for event organizers?

Unused or unwanted leftover product from conventions or meetings can be transferred to Bay Area Organizations via the Network for the Needy, a service of the Professional Convention Management Association. Several local agencies can collect donated goods from the hotels or convention center and distribute them to San Francisco nonprofits including AIDS service providers, senior centers, homeless shelters, after school programs, and many others. For convention groups meeting at Moscone Convention, the convention center maintains an excellent donation program. See also:

The program supports the city of San Francisco's diversion goal by encouraging donation to local nonprofits rather than disposal of leftover goods from tradeshows and conventions. Nonprofits support many of the City's neighborhoods and the donation program helps connect them with valuable resources ranging from furniture to art supplies and food.

The Hotel Non-Profit Joint Collaborative organization consists of about 40 hotels and area nonprofits. The mission of the Hotel/Non-Profit Collaborative is to transfer usable, excess goods, supplies and equipment that are discarded from San Francisco hotels into assets that can be utilized by community-based non-profit service agencies in the City; to provide a forum for environmentally and socially responsible activities within the hospitality industry. For more information on the Hotel Non-Profit Joint Collaborative, contact Jo Licata, Hilton San Francisco Union Square,

How do you support local food or other procurement sourcing options for event organizers?

The City and County of San Francisco has teamed with Om Organics, a local non-profit organization, andFarmsReach to a bring searchable databases of sources for sustainable, healthy food to consumers and institutional purchasers. More:

At San Francisco’s Moscone Center, SAVOR… has risen to the challenge of becoming 100% green with trailblazing zero-waste programs that range from compostable eating utensils to composting kitchen scraps. Initiatives aimed at minimizing their carbon footprint include purchasing locally produced and sustainably raised products, sourcing sustainable seafood, using non-petroleum-based products, and recycling and composting whenever possible. Info:

One of the City's largest and most well-recognized events, Oracle OpenWorld, in fall of 2012 was able to achieve 85% food sourcing from within the region by working closely with SAVOR to develop sustainably oriented menus.

Does your bureau or major convention center have a green team?
At Moscone Center, green teams are built on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate for each event. Green teams are built to address the specific goals of our clients and include client, facility and vendor representatives.

Do you provide educational training programs for your region (venues, etc) about sustainable best practice? If so, in what format.
The SF Department of the Environment offers Zero Waste Events Training and resources to Event Managers. Here are just a few gems on their webpage, see link given below:

  • Targeted help for Event Managers
  • Event Greener organizations providing staff to assist attendees at the point of materials separation, such as a zero-waste station located at the event.
  • Signs- printable, blank, and customizable signs
  • Legislative update links specifically for event planners
  • Event checklist

Do you profile and/or promote sustainable hospitality partners?
The SFTA provides green news to planners on their "Green Your Meeting" webpage, including news about hospitality partners and their eco-friendly practices:

Describe the most impactful sustainable event experience/customer experience supported by your CVB?
Several recent conventions should be considered particularly impactful sustainable events. The following three events were held at Moscone Center during the last six months.

  • USGBC's Greenbuild held in November 2012, achieved a record 86% diversion for Greenbuild 2012. 58% of food was locally sourced (<100 miles, % by expenditure); 74%food was regionally sourced (<500 miles, % by expenditure); achieved a rate of only 1,217 lb CO2GHG emissions per attendee, and achieved a rate of only 1 lb of landfill waste per attendee.
  • Oracle OpenWorld held in October 2012, achieved a 40% reduction in fuel use for ground shuttles since 2008, an 8% improvement in diversion of waste from landfill, achieving a record 91% diversion for the Oracle Appreciation Event, 85% of menu indgredients were sourced from within the region, and achieved a 45% reduction in the square footage of signage sent to landfill since the 2011 OpenWorld event, resulting in part from elimination of 8,000 square feet of decal signs. 17 different organizations received donations of usable event materials from Oracle OpenWorld 2012.
  • Specialty Food Association's Winter Fancy Food Show held in January 2013, donated three and a half tractor trailer loads of leftover specialty food product to nonprofit Feed the Hungry. Feed the Hungry distributes the food to meal programs located throughout the greater SF Bay Area.

What advice would you provide to other CVB professionals seeking to head down the sustainable event pathway?
In order to understand the local green laws and policies that planners are subject to, CVB professionals should become familiar with and attend the trainings available for planners and event organizers to produce more sustainable events. It is also important to be familiar with local infrastructure for sustainable initiatives since all green options for handling materials are not available or feasible in all cities.

When an event organizer comes to your city for a site inspection, what is your favorite sustainable activity, attribute, location or experience that you like to share with them?
The walkability of the city – an estimated 30,000 hotel rooms are located within walking distance of the convention center.

What support/resources do you need to continue on your sustainable path?
Continuing education on sustainability.

Do you have links, testimonials, case studies, etc. available that we can share with our community?

Two premier events undertake detailed tracking and reporting of the sustainability of their events, USGBC Greenbuild and Oracle OpenWorld.

USGBC GreenBuild's post show report can be downloaded here:

San Francisco is a city with popular attractions whose sustainable achievements will surely interest the GMIC community. Here are just a few:

Historic Alcatraz Island is powered by a new 280 kW solar photovoltaic installation on the roof of the island’s main cell house. The array will provide roughly 66% of the island’s electricity needs:

Located in Golden Gate Park, California Academy of Sciences has achieved LEED double platinum certification and touted as one of the greenest buildings in the world:

Located on the Embarcadero, the Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum, is anticipated to achieve LEED gold certification:

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a California Certified Farmers Market operated by CUESA. CUESA operates three markets per week, all of which take place at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Since 1993, the market has been a crucial link between San Francisco residents and the farmers who practice sustainable agriculture in the region:

Located in San Francisco's China Basin, AT&T Park was the first major league ballpark to install a solar array and the first to receive LEED Silver Certification for existing buildings: operations and maintenance (EBOM). The Giants also divert the most waste from landfill of any professional sports venue in North America, with an 85.2 % diversion rate for 2011:

Located in San Francisco Bay and the surrounding waterfront, The America’s Cup sailing competition is an upcoming premier event in the city. Organizers have committed to hosting an environmentally responsible event, which involves paying particular attention to areas such as minimizing air emissions and waste, and maximizing opportunities for energy efficiency and sustainable travel solutions: