Cobo Center to Amp Up Its Sustainability Initiatives for 2018

November 21, 2017

Detroit’s Cobo Center is demonstrating its ongoing commitment to sustainability by increasing its environmental initiatives for the coming year, including a living green roof observation area and new lactation suites for nursing moms.

According to Claude Molinari, general manager of SMG/Cobo Center, the facility is planning to install a visitor observation area near its living green roof at the old heliport location on the roof deck.

“Last year, we installed honeybee hives and saw our living roof and organic herb gardens thrive,” Molinari said.

He continued, “Next year, we will create an observation area, with murals and signage, overlooking the living green roof to bring our visitors more information on these features.”

In June, local Detroit nonprofit Bees in the D installed four honeybee hives adjacent to the living roof at Cobo Center with the intention to establish Cobo as a foster hive site.

Honey harvested from the hives is now used in Cobo’s kitchens and offered to its customers.

“Bees in the D and Cobo Center are working together to make Detroit’s skyline sweeter,” said Brian Peterson-Roest, owner of Bees in the D.

He continued, “Cobo’s green roof is a perfect home for honeybees and Cobo Center is an ideal partner for Bees in the D since our sustainability visions are aligned.”

Bees in the D’s mission is to create a cooperative effort between residents, schools, organizations and businesses in the city of Detroit and Southeast Michigan and is dedicated to contributing to the health of honeybee colonies as well as education about their importance to the environment.

“Not only do we have the chance to physically share our mission with the Cobo team, we have infinite opportunities to share our story and green mission with more than a million visitors to Cobo each year,” Peterson-Roest added.

In the summer of 2015, Cobo’s 10,000 square-foot living green roof was installed as part of the facility’s recent $279 million renovation, creating a natural habitat and oasis for birds and insects as well as providing insulation to cool and heat the building.

Twelve varieties of flowering plants, including an organic herb garden, grow over a waterproofing membrane with layers of root barrier and natural drainage, while runoff rainwater is reused and distributed through the irrigation system to water the green roof.

The living roof observation area will be located off of the south fifth floor entrance to the facility from the rooftop parking structure.

Signage, murals and other informative items will be displayed to educate visitors on all of the sustainable projects they can see through the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the living green roof from that entrance.

Lovio George Communications, an advertising and public relations agency based in Detroit, will create the educational signage.

“’Sustainability Lives Here’ is not just a catchy phrase in Cobo Center,” said Christina Lovio George, CEO of Lovio George Communications & Design.

She continued, “It’s a mission, fully embedded in the facility operations and we are fortunate to be part of this effort that improves the entire Detroit community.”

Meanwhile, two portable nursing mother lactation stations will be installed prior to the 2018 North American International Auto Show, set for Jan. 13-28 at Cobo Center.

Complete with benches, tables, mirrors and electricity for use by nursing mothers, the Mamava pods can be moved to other parts of the facility depending on event needs and will be made available to convention staff, customers and visitors. In addition, the stations can be locked with a mobile app and Bluetooth-enabled smart lock.

Cobo Center’s other green practices and services include:

  • Extensive materials donation network

  • Composting in food courts and kitchens

  • Locally sourced, vegetarian and vegan menus available

  • Aggressive recycling with more than 100 stations throughout the center

  • Computer controlled lighting for optimum use energy saving

  • All cardboard and pallets recycled to local vendors

  • Un-served food donated to local food redistribution agency, Forgotten Harvest
  • Sustainable transportation options including downtown light rail system station located inside Cobo Center and MoGo bicycle rental station
  • Daylight harvesting with outdoor light meters in computer controlled system
  • Green Meetings Industry Council APEX/ASTM certification 

“We are constantly on the lookout for potential community partners that will enhance the ecosystem we are creating in Cobo Center,” Molinari explained.

He continued, “From visitors that help recycle and compost, to companies that contribute to our living green roof environment, each of us plays an important role in being a good steward of our planet’s resources.”

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