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Cleaner And Greener Meetings Have Arrived — And They're Here To Stay

Here’s how Phoenix is leading the charge on cleanliness & sustainability.

When meeting planners choose a destination, they don’t just evaluate a city on affordability, weather and location. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a city’s ability to reduce its environmental footprint and rate high in safety were becoming an increasingly important factors for meeting planners when determining where conventions and meetings are held. Now, it’s no surprise that planners want to keep their members safe—and are doing so by prioritizing wellness, sustainability and cleanliness when selecting host cities for their upcoming in-person events.

In the last six years, the meetings and convention industry has taken steps to “green” its meetings by holding meetings in sustainable cities that are actively reducing their use of toxic materials and production of greenhouse gas emissions to improve air quality. Now, many cities are taking this to the next level—ensuring that cities are cleaned regularly for increased sustainability efforts and to protect their residents and guests from harmful germs and toxins.

One city that has been taking steps to increase its sustainability and cleanliness is Phoenix. These efforts took off in 2014, when the Downtown Phoenix Inc.’s eight-member Clean & Green Team began planting trees that offered more shade to pedestrians, specifically in the 90-square-block, downtown core. Because the city is compact, walkable and connected to the airport by public transportation, it has successfully transformed it’s downtown area into a sustainable district, making it a popular destination for meetings and events.

But planting trees was just the beginning—when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation, this dynamic eight-person team sprung into action to focus on increased hygiene around the city.

Clean & Green Team 2Eduardo Patiño of the DTPHX Clean & Green Team. Photo courtesy of Downtown Phoenix Inc.

“Recently, the Clean & Green Team has begun focusing on cleaning high traffic areas with a hospital-grade disinfectant, explains Samantha Jackson, senior director of strategy & community affairs for the Downtown Phoenix Inc. “This includes the trash and recycling compactors, bike racks, tables, chairs and cross walk signal buttons, Jackson says. “Basically anything that people touch regularly is cleaned every morning beginning at 5:30 a.m.,” she says.

This shift in strategy has become top priority for the team as they begin preparing to welcome visitors back to the city and plan for in-person events.

“One of the pillars of our organization’s positioning statement is to curate and maintain an experiential business and entertainment district that is clean, welcoming and safe,” says R.J. Price, the Chief Marketing Officer of Downtown Phoenix Inc. “Street-level operations is at the core of what we do, whether that’s our DTPHX Ambassadors providing a friendly and helpful presence on street corners or our Clean & Green Team removing graffiti, cleaning alleys, planting trees to make downtown more shaded or delivering landscaping projects that enhance pedestrian areas.”

While priority has been placed on disinfecting high-touch areas, the Clean & Green team is continuing its commitment to sustainability and cleanliness through additional innovative initiatives such as:

  • Installing solar-powered waste and recycling compactors
  • Replacing standard streetlights with LED lights
  • Capturing rainwater to help water plants in the downtown area
  • Developing LEED-certified parks
  • Removing graffiti tags and removing litter from public spaces

Whether in the midst of a crisis or not, these innovative efforts are helping to make Phoenix a sustainable city that meeting planners and attendees will feel good about visiting for years to come.

This story was written and published by Associations Now. For more meetings trends in Phoenix, visit