Good air quality is so basic to a productive working environment that it doesn’t even seem necessary to check up on and most meeting planners don’t. However, sustainability in general is a growing topic and many are passionate about it.
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 a ranking factor in convention site selection provides a simple, yet dramatic viewpoint. It has definitely changed our survey results in 2019.
Consider the #1 spot in our ranking report last year – Las Vegas. Looking only at air quality among the major convention cities in the USA, Las Vegas comes in last while Honolulu, a city not on last year ‘s list at all, comes in first.**
Honolulu is a strong convention city for several other reasons – sunshine, great walking and promotional appeal – along with one of the busiest airports in the nation. For this reason, when air quality is thrown into the mix, the city took the top spot in our annual best places for conventions survey for 2019.
Finding a clean-air city to meet is getting harder and harder, but many destinations are taking the lead by reducing traffic, advancing clean transportation and curtailing the burning of fossil fuels in industry and homes. The city of San Jose has set a goal to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2022. Hawaii is the first state in the U.S. to set a state-wide goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2045. Seattle was one of two cities to win the first Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge and will accelerate its climate action plan to reduce transit and building emissions over the next two years.
We feel clean air matters, and as cities improve their environment, they will move up in our rankings. Convention planners are in a great spot to encourage this change.
See the ranking of the largest convention cities by air quality below:
|City||CVB||Metro-Population||Chance for "Acceptable Air" |
(Little to no risk)**
|Honolulu||Meet Hawaii||992,761||98%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|New Orleans||New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau||1,271,195||93%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Seattle||Visit Seattle||3,802,660||93%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Miami||Greater Miami CVB||6,107,433||91%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Boston||Greater Boston CVB||4,805,942||91%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Minneapolis||Meet Minneapolis||3,557,276||90%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Portland||Travel Portland||2,423,102||90%||Groups up to 10,000|
|San Antonio||Visit San Antonio||2,426,211||90%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|San Francisco||San Francisco Travel||4,699,077||89%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Orlando||Visit Orlando||2,453,333||89%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Austin||Austin CVB||2,060,558||87%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Tampa||Visit Tampa Bay||3,036,525||86%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Kansas City||Visit KC||2,106,382||86%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Atlantic City||Meet AC||270,830||86%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Charlotte||Visit Charlotte||2,475,519||85%||Groups up to 10,000|
|San Diego & Vicinity||San Diego Tourism Authority||3,317,200||81%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Columbus||Experience Columbus||2,046,977||81%||Groups up to 10,000|
|New York City||NYC & Company||20,275,179||80%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Nashville||Nashville CVB||1,868,855||80%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Dallas||VisitDallas||7,253,424||80%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Washington, DC||Destination DC||6,150,681||77%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Houston & Vicinity||Greater Houston CVB||6,798,010||77%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Chicago||Choose Chicago||9,546,326||77%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|St Louis||Explore St. Louis||2,806,782||75%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Louisville||Louisville CVB||1,284,848||75%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Detroit||Detroit Metro CVB||4,305,869||74%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Denver||VISIT DENVER||2,851,848||73%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Indianapolis||Visit Indy||2,005,612||72%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Phoenix||Visit Phoenix||4,648,498||70%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Philadelphia||Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau||6,077,152||70%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Greater Baltimore||Visit Baltimore||2,801,028||69%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Cleveland||Greater Cleveland CVB||2,060,065||69%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Atlanta||Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau||5,795,723||68%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
|Cincinnati||Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau||2,166,029||67%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Pittsburgh||Greater Pittsburgh CVB||2,341,536||67%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Salt Lake City||Visit Salt Lake||1,185,978||63%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Los Angeles||Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board||13,328,261||62%||Groups up to 10,000|
|Las Vegas||Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority||2,156,724||60%||Groups up to and over 10,000+|
**Using data meticulously complied by our friends at Penn Environment, we ranked convention cities by their number of “acceptable air” days (air quality not exceeding the particulate pollution levels the EPA labels “moderate”). The cities at the top of the list have the cleanest air and 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.