The TCF Center Green Committee Is Back in Business

Sep 27, 2021

The TCF Center Green Committee is back in business after the crushing blow to the events industry from the COVID-19 pandemic. As the venue rebuilds staff, members of the Green Committee are sourced from every department and vendor company working in the center. At the first meeting Sept. 21, a large group of employees that belonged to the committee in the past and several new faces appeared in a zoom meeting to revisit goals and plan the path forward.


“This will be a pivotal year for our sustainability program,” said Karen Totaro, general manager TCF Center/ASM Global. “Our work in the center to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and recertify as the largest LEED venue in Michigan will be front and center for our efforts in 2022.”




Working together in cooperation with regional partners, TCF Center has been committed to providing outstanding experiences for guests and sustainable operations for Metro Detroit citizenry since 2011, expanding the program each year.


After venues throughout the U.S. closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, TCF Center shifted from an event facility to a community center until business resumed in March 2021. These initiatives included:


  • Green features inherent in the TCF Center operations and architecture contributed to the creation of a COVID-19 field hospital in just nine days for the state of Michigan.
  • Ten million pounds of food was distributed to local agencies for food-insecure residents in Southeast Michigan from the TCF Center docks in partnership with Food Rescue U.S.
  • Meals, showers and other important services were extended in TCF Center to the homeless of Detroit in partnership with the Pope Francis Center and the City of Detroit.
  • TCF Center became the largest Detroit COVID-19 vaccination site as a drive through facility in the Atwater Garage.
  • The City of Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum, TCF Center and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy partnered on a large-scale, hands-on public art installation that recognizes the depth of loss during the past year, such as lost loved ones, lost homes, lost jobs and lost hope. The installation in TCF Center was presented to the public on Aug. 31 and will remain in the center for one year.

Before pausing in 2020, TCF Center was awarded the 2020 USGBC Leadership Award for Building Performance by the U.S. Green Buildings Council. It was the first convention center in the history of the award to receive it. While closed to events in 2020 and 2021, waste diversion for the facility still averaged 45 percent.


“Waste diversion procedures are firmly established in TCF Center,” said Totaro. “Community programs became our events during COVID-19, and the team kept doing what it does best, working together for a more sustainable future.”




Since opening back up for business, TCF Center performed a deep cleaning of all storage areas, selling some items and finding other items new homes. Staff was invited to rehome items such as dinner ware, and the balance was donated to the Salvation Army, lending multiple sustainable solutions to the task of house cleaning.


Anxious to get back to the business, the center’s Green Committee will begin to build back several other main initiatives in 2022:


  • A redesigned sustainability marketing program. 
  • Green Event guidelines that shift focus from waste diversion to material life cycles 
  • A Human Trafficking Policy that trains all stakeholders and outlines reporting procedures.
  • Banning the use of foam core materials in the venue.
  • Re-energizing the focus on food redistribution, sustainable meal options, composing and zero waste events.
  • Conducting Green Tours of the venue with stops to hear all about the operations in the engineering department, docks, kitchens, exhibit halls and Living Green Roof. 
  • Hosting free health and fitness sessions such as yoga, Zumba and full-body workouts that can be integrated into events in the facility at no charge. Non-profits will be on-site to give information to visitors.
  • Members of the Green Committee will meet with other facility managers such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, Ford Motor Co., and the City of Detroit to exchange best practices in sustainability.
  • Green Committee members will give sustainability presentations at industry events such as IAVM Connect, CESSE, MSAE, USGBC Greenbuild, and others to encourage event industry sustainable practices.

“COVID and climate change are two of the most life impacting “global” problems and TCF Center is not shying away from doing its part,” said Totaro. “We love our community and want to keep it healthy and thriving for a long time to come.”


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