Green Strides: Metro Toronto Convention Centre Keeps Getting Greener and Greener

October 11, 2022

Vibrant, progressive, walkable, innovative and diverse. Those are words that often come to mind when thinking of Toronto, North America’s fourth-largest city and the cultural heart of Canada. Easy to get to from the U.S., this modern, multicultural gateway also happens to be one of the most sustainable destinations for meetings and events, with an array of industry-leading convention venues that make environmental consciousness a top priority.

Nowhere is this more evident than at Canada’s leading meeting and trade show facility, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC), which offers more than 442,000 square feet of exhibit space, 77 meeting rooms, two multi-purpose ballrooms and a state-of-the-art theater.  

According to MTCC officials, event planners can feel confident that every event held at the downtown facility is a zero-waste event. Not only is 90% of all event waste redirected from landfill, the venue’s sustainable practices and offerings, including recycling, energy conservation efforts, the use of non-toxic green cleaning products, renewable electricity, locally sourced food and beverage and leftover item and food donations, are business-as-usual at the venue. 

“As Canada’s top convention center, we offer every planner the opportunity to reduce their event’s environmental footprint and give back in a meaningful way,” explained Vivian Fleet, MTCC vice president of operations. “Our center has its own robust sustainability plan, and also assists every step of the way in implementing the best sustainability tactics for every event, which may include using clean energy, recycling, local procurement or even donating leftover items.” 

Green Progression

In the last few years, the MTCC focused on upping the ante with food donation and supporting local businesses as the industry and local community navigated unchartered waters during COVID-19. Here are some of the most recent steps the facility has taken to lessen the environmental impact of the meetings and trade shows it hosts. 

  • Post-event donation program: The MTCC makes a point of encouraging all event planners and exhibitors to donate leftover food and event items to local charities. This program, managed by the MTCC team and multiple departments, helps support the venue’s zero-waste objectives. 

In the last few years, food insecurity has been on the rise in Canada, which means food donation programs have become more important than ever, according to MTCC officials. To date, the center has donated more than 340,000 meals—and counting—to local food rescue organizations, including Daily Bread Food Bank and the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) student nutrition program, which provides healthy, nutritious food to Toronto students who may not have access to healthy food at home due to circumstances beyond their control. 

The MTCC also donates leftover event items, from furniture to delegate bags, to local charities across the city that are in need of community support services. 

  • Locally sourced beer and wine: Starting in 2022, 100% of the wine and craft beer served at the MTCC is now locally sourced. In a typical year, the MTCC serves approximately 38,000 bottles of wine and 94,000 beers. By buying local in large volume, the facility hopes to help support local businesses as much as possible, especially as the region recovers from the effects of the pandemic. Overall, approximately 65% of all food and beverage items procured by the MTCC are from local farms and suppliers, and the facility aims to increase this percentage every year.  

“As Canada’s largest convention center, it’s important for us to lead by example, support local businesses and make a positive impact on the region,” said David Procopio, director of food and beverage services at the MTCC. “We continue to find ways to increase our ability to buy local and for attendees to experience the best of Ontario.” 

  • Rooftop garden and beehives: The MTCC continues to develop its rooftop Chef’s Garden, which grows many herbs and vegetables used in the venue’s kitchen. Located on the South Building, the garden is also home to two beehives housing 50,000 bees each, which help support the essential pollinators in the local area while procuring honey for the venue’s culinary team. 
  • Eco-friendly offerings: As the first convention center in Canada to offer clients the option of using clean energy, the MTCC offers event planners the option of powering their events with Bullfrog Power, which supplies power from natural, renewable sources. The company ensures that for every kWh of electricity an event uses, an equal amount of electricity from a pollution-free, renewable source is put back on the grid.

Chef's Garden at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre

The MTCC is also the first convention center in North America to partner with the logistics app Voyage Control to reduce traffic and carbon monoxide emissions in the local area by reducing idling time for vehicles during move-in and move-out. Instead of having to wait at the marshaling yard, MTCC exhibitors simply schedule a time to deliver materials directly to the facility.

The South Building is also home to a seven-acre green roof, complete with a park for public enjoyment, that helps reduce the building’s energy consumption and cooling costs while creating a beautiful city space.

The facility was the first in Toronto to be on Enwave Energy’s Deep Lake Water Cooling system, which uses cold water extracted from Lake Ontario to cool the South Building, allowing for significant reductions in GHG emissions and electrical consumption.

This plethora of environmental practices hasn’t gone unnoticed by meeting and event planners. In 2023, the MTCC is set to host 19 citywide conventions, nine of which are from the U.S. and six of which will be hosting an event in Canada for the first time. With an estimated $219 million in direct spending economic impact expected for the regional economy, this major boost in demandgreater than in most pre-pandemic yearssignals brighter days ahead for the business events industry in Ontario, according to MTCC officials. 

“Our industry, our team and our partners have worked tirelessly over the past two years to recover and move forward successfully,” said Lorenz Hassenstein, president and CEO of the MTCC. “We are very pleased to report that our 2023 booking calendar signals the potential for a strong recovery and bright future for the business events industry and our facility.”

He continued, “In our industry, small decisions can make a big impact. Our 90% waste diversion rate is achieved in partnership with events that work with us to reduce their environmental footprint. We hope to set a positive example as we continue to create successful and sustainable events and meetings.” 

To learn more about the MTCC’s sustainability and social corporate responsibility practices, go here. To learn more about hosting a meeting or event in Toronto, go here.

Know of a sustainably-minded convention center that is working overtime to lessen the environmental impact of the events it hosts? Reach out to


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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.