Honolulu (picture up top) and New Orleans (above) lead the list of large clean air cities.
(Photos courtesy Calee-Allen and MNStudio -stock.adobe.com)

Most planners have yet to take a destination’s or even their own event’s sustainability into account when planning a convention. A recent study about adding a sustainability rewards program for convention attendees found that  “meeting planners’ attention to sustainability has been growing…” yet, there exists a “…gap between the current state of sustainable events and planners’ intention to plan a sustainable meeting or event.”  (See: A comparison of planners’ site-selection intentions towards a sustainability reward program, location, and overall costs)

For us, taking a city’s measure of environmental sustainability is proving to be a difficult process as well, but we feel we need to start. Using air quality as one of the most important factors of convention site selection provides a simple, yet dramatic springboard. It will definitely change our survey results in 2019.

Consider the #1 spot in our ranking of best convention cities in 2018Las Vegas. Looking at air quality in major convention cities below, Las Vegas comes in last while Honolulu, a city not on the last year ‘s list at all, comes in first.**

Honolulu is strong for several other reasons  – sunshine, great walking and promotional appeal – along with one of the busiest airports in the nation. For this reason, we anticipate this city will take one of the top spots in our annual best places for conventions survey for 2019.

Yes, finding a clean-air city to meet is getting harder and harder, but some destinations are taking the lead by reducing traffic, advancing clean transportation and curtailing the burning of fossil fuels in industry and homes. We feel convention planners are in a great spot to support those places and sincerely hope they alert their contacts that there are real economic consequences and benefits of things like clean air. See a list of the largest convention cities below:

**Using data meticulously complied by our friends at Penn Environment, we ranked convention cities by their number of “clean air” days. Below is a look at the ranking of the largest convention cities. The cities at the top of the list have the least likelihood of subjecting attendees to two of the most dangerous forms of bad air – that of high PM 2.5 particle pollution or ozone.

CityCVBMetro-PopulationChance for Good Clean Air Day**Recommended For
HonoluluMeet Hawaii992,76198%Groups up to and over 10,000+
New OrleansNew Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau1,271,19593%Groups up to and over 10,000+
SeattleVisit Seattle3,802,66093%Groups up to and over 10,000+
MiamiGreater Miami CVB6,107,43391%Groups up to and over 10,000+
BostonGreater Boston CVB4,805,94291%Groups up to and over 10,000+
MinneapolisMeet Minneapolis3,557,27690%Groups up to and over 10,000+
PortlandTravel Portland2,423,10290%Groups up to 10,000
San AntonioVisit San Antonio2,426,21190%Groups up to and over 10,000+
San FranciscoSan Francisco Travel4,699,07789%Groups up to and over 10,000+
OrlandoVisit Orlando2,453,33389%Groups up to and over 10,000+
AustinAustin CVB2,060,55887%Groups up to 10,000
TampaVisit Tampa Bay3,036,52586%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Kansas CityVisit KC2,106,38286%Groups up to 10,000
Atlantic CityMeet AC270,83086%Groups up to and over 10,000+
CharlotteVisit Charlotte2,475,51985%Groups up to 10,000
San Diego & VicinitySan Diego Tourism Authority3,317,20081%Groups up to and over 10,000+
ColumbusExperience Columbus2,046,97781%Groups up to 10,000
New York CityNYC & Company20,275,17980%Groups up to and over 10,000+
NashvilleNashville CVB1,868,85580%Groups up to and over 10,000+
DallasVisitDallas7,253,42480%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Washington, DCDestination DC6,150,68177%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Houston & VicinityGreater Houston CVB6,798,01077%Groups up to and over 10,000+
ChicagoChoose Chicago9,546,32677%Groups up to and over 10,000+
St LouisExplore St. Louis2,806,78275%Groups up to and over 10,000+
LouisvilleLouisville CVB1,284,84875%Groups up to 10,000
DetroitDetroit Metro CVB4,305,86974%Groups up to and over 10,000+
DenverVISIT DENVER2,851,84873%Groups up to and over 10,000+
IndianapolisVisit Indy2,005,61272%Groups up to 10,000
PhoenixVisit Phoenix4,648,49870%Groups up to and over 10,000+
PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau6,077,15270%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Greater BaltimoreVisit Baltimore2,801,02869%Groups up to 10,000
ClevelandGreater Cleveland CVB2,060,06569%Groups up to 10,000
AtlantaAtlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau5,795,72368%Groups up to and over 10,000+
CincinnatiCincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau2,166,02967%Groups up to 10,000
PittsburghGreater Pittsburgh CVB2,341,53667%Groups up to 10,000
Salt Lake CityVisit Salt Lake1,185,97863%Groups up to 10,000
Los AngelesLos Angeles Tourism & Convention Board13,328,26162%Groups up to 10,000
Las VegasLas Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority2,156,72460%Groups up to and over 10,000+