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Moscone Center – A Bright Green Award-Winning Convention Center

2009 June 11

I’ve been to a lot of “environmental” conferences over the years, and I’ve seen a lot of not-so-environmental practices. Some convention centers even throw away the floor coverings they use after every trade show. SMG’s giant Moscone Center, in San Francisco, is just one block away from my office, and this bright green convention center was recognized at EPA’s recent Pacific Southwest Environmental Awards Ceremony.

Image of solar panels on the Moscone Center The two million square foot Moscone Center has one of the nation’s largest municipally-owned solar installations. Their 60,000 sq. ft. solar system generates enough energy to power nearly 400 homes and displaces more than 300 tons of carbon dioxide annually! They also did a major lighting retrofit. You can follow their lead by looking for ENERGY STAR lighting fixtures at home and at work.

SMG pioneered a recycling program at the Moscone Center ten years ago and recently added food composting. They now transform kitchen-based food scraps and corn-based serveware and utensils from large catered functions into compost to grow new food. The catering truck is even fueled with biodiesel. SMG also reduces waste by working with vendors to take back bread trays and pastry boxes.
The facility started using Green Seal certified cleaning products in 2008 and buys environmental products like post-consumer recycled paper, janitorial supplies and garbage bags.

SMG really focuses on improving indoor air quality. The Moscone Center takes the following step to achieve this:

  • Has a full-time air quality technician who regularly monitors and tests conditions ;
  • Requires forklifts to use a propane additive to reduce carbon monoxide emissions ;
  • Reduces diesel emissions by requiring trucks operated by service contractors to use filters;
  • Minimizes idling by drivers, and
  • Strictly enforces the no smoking ordinance.

They’re also improving air quality outside. The Moscone Center is close to nearly 20,000 hotel rooms, making it easy to avoid driving. SMG also promotes the use of public transit in telephone recordings and on the website, as well as encouraging employee participation in the Commuter Check program. The center’s van runs on compressed natural gas and bike racks are installed in front of the facility.

The list of green features at Moscone Center goes on and on, but you get the idea — Moscone Center is truly a model green convention center!

Please share your green conference and convention center information with us.

To learn more about other U.S. EPA Pacific Southwest Environmental Award winners, visit

About the author: Timonie Hood has worked on EPA Region 9’s Resource Conservation Team for 10 years and is Co-Chair of EPA’s Green Building Workgroup.
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Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Johnny R. permalink
    June 12, 2009

    California is slipping into bankruptcy and chaos, but Moscone Center will somehow survive and flourish?

  2. Naina Ayya permalink
    June 12, 2009

    The recent annual meeting at Moscone Center of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) drew over 18,000 attendees on May 16-21 and generated an estimated $30.5 million in economic impact, giving a significant boost to the city’s economy. During the week of May 17-23, San Francisco had the second highest hotel occupancy rate of the 25 top markets in the United States, according to a report from Smith Travel Research. With an occupancy rate of 81.3 percent, San Francisco was second only to New York.
    To see actual stats yourself, visit

  3. Fred Jones permalink
    July 21, 2009

    It looks like whoever built the Moscone Center was looking towards the future of a green life style. Looks like next year they should look into getting a new Toyota fuel cell forklift to replace the propane it will help them cult down even more on carbon monoxide emissions should have some in stock when they start looking

  4. Chris @ Trade Show Dispalsy NJ permalink
    October 14, 2010

    Many business in the trade show industry have taken a step towards using earth friendly materials making greener trade show displays.

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