A Bevy of Convention Centers Achieve GBAC STAR Accreditation to Promote Safe Events

January 5, 2021
A Bevy of Convention Centers Achieve GBAC STAR Accreditation to Promote Safe Events

Since the pandemic took hold in the U.S. last Spring, more and more convention centers have been demonstrating their commitment to protecting health and safety in the “new abnormal” by achieving GBAC STAR, a cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention accreditation program designed for facilities of all types and sizes.

Launched on May 7 by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a division of cleaning industry trade association ISSA, the GBAC program establishes requirements addressing work practices, protocols, procedures and systems to control risks associated with infectious agents such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. 

According to GBAC Executive Director Patricia Olinger, GBAC STAR is an important indicator of a facility’s ability to prepare, respond and recover from infectious disease outbreaks and biohazard situations.  

A Bevy of Convention Centers Achieve GBAC STAR Accreditation to Promote Safe Events“Facilities that achieve GBAC STAR have proven that their approach to cleaning, disinfection and infection prevention will protect building visitors, residents and employees,” Olinger said. “And because accreditation is renewed annually, these organizations demonstrate they are committed to continually improving their programs.” 

To achieve it, facilities must demonstrate capability and compliance with 20 key program elements, including personal protective equipment, personnel training and emergency response, she added. 

While some program participants hire consultants or engage with internal experts to complete their applications, others rely on insights and guidance from GBAC to submit a cleaning, disinfection and infection prevention program for accreditation that suits their facility and fulfills local, state and other key guidelines. 

“Organizations must be able to clearly explain to the public the steps they are taking to provide a safe and healthy environment,” explained John Barrett, executive director of ISSA. “GBAC STAR accreditation elevates credibility and GBAC’s experts also work closely with accredited facilities to help them communicate the ‘what, how, when and why’ behind cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention.”

 Major U.S. convention facilities that have achieved GBAC STAR in 2020 include: 

  • Atlantic City Convention Center
  • Vancouver Convention Centre
  • Oregon Convention Center
  • Fort Worth Convention Center
  • Reno-Sparks Convention Center
  • Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas
  • Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville
  • Safe Credit Union Convention Center in Sacramento, Ca.
  • Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee
  • America’s Center in St. Louis
  • Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C.
  • Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia
  • Raleigh Convention and Performing Arts Complex in Raleigh, N.C.
  • Puerto Rico Convention Center 
  • Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas
  • Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, Ca.
  • The Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City                       
  • Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio
  • Las Vegas Convention Center 
  • McCormick Place in Chicago
  • Miami Beach Convention Center
  • Savannah Convention Center in Savannah, Ga.
  • Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs, Ca.
  • Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center in Long Beach, Ca.
  • Phoenix Convention Center
  • Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
  • Orange County Convention Center in Orlando
  • Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati
  • Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland
  • Music City Center in Nashville
  • San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, Ca.
  • Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Ca.
  • Los Angeles Convention Center
  • Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans
  • Palm Beach County Convention Center in Palm Beach, Fla.
  • San Diego Convention Center 

For a complete list of accredited venues, check out the new GBAC STAR Facility Directory, which includes all facilities around the world that have achieved GBAC STAR as well as those that have committed to achieve accreditation. Besides convention centers, the new web-based tool provides a searchable listing of participating hotels, stadiums and arenas, restaurants, airports and commercial facilities. 

“The GBAC STAR program is the gold standard of prepared facilities and will help the public gauge an organization’s commitment to the elevated standard of cleanliness that is now essential,” Barrett said. “By helping organizations understand how to document and execute their cleaning procedures, we’re paving the way for a healthier and safer world.” 


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.