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 for 2018 – 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 will continue to move up in our rankings. Convention planners are in a great spot to help everyone encourage this change. 

See the ranking of the largest convention cities by air quality below:

CityMetro-PopulationChance for "Acceptable Air"
(Little to no risk)**
Recommended For
Honolulu992,76198%Groups up to and over 10,000+
New Orleans1,271,19593%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Seattle3,802,66093%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Miami6,107,43391%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Boston4,805,94291%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Minneapolis3,557,27690%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Portland2,423,10290%Groups up to 10,000
San Antonio2,426,21190%Groups up to and over 10,000+
San Francisco4,699,07789%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Orlando2,453,33389%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Austin2,060,55887%Groups up to 10,000
Tampa3,036,52586%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Kansas City2,106,38286%Groups up to 10,000
Atlantic City270,83086%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Charlotte2,475,51985%Groups up to 10,000
San Diego & Vicinity3,317,20081%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Columbus2,046,97781%Groups up to 10,000
New York City20,275,17980%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Nashville1,868,85580%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Dallas7,253,42480%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Washington, DC6,150,68177%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Houston & Vicinity6,798,01077%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Chicago9,546,32677%Groups up to and over 10,000+
St Louis2,806,78275%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Louisville1,284,84875%Groups up to 10,000
Detroit4,305,86974%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Denver2,851,84873%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Indianapolis2,005,61272%Groups up to 10,000
Phoenix4,648,49870%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Philadelphia6,077,15270%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Greater Baltimore2,801,02869%Groups up to 10,000
Cleveland2,060,06569%Groups up to 10,000
Atlanta5,795,72368%Groups up to and over 10,000+
Cincinnati2,166,02967%Groups up to 10,000
Pittsburgh2,341,53667%Groups up to 10,000
Salt Lake City1,185,97863%Groups up to 10,000
Los Angeles13,328,26162%Groups up to 10,000
Las Vegas2,156,72460%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.