Cobo Center ups sustainability ante for 2018

Nov 14, 2017

A living green roof observation area and new nursing pods for moms will bring the community into Cobo Center sustainable operations in 2018

DETROIT November 14, 2017 -- Claude Molinari, general manager of SMG/Cobo Center, today announced the facility’s plan to install a visitor observation area near the living green roof at Cobo Center at the old heliport location on the roof deck. Prior to the 2018 North American International Auto Show Jan. 13-28, Cobo will also make nursing mother lactation stations available to employees and visitors.

“Last year, we installed honeybee hives and saw our living roof and organic herb gardens thrive,” said Molinari. “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 2017, a local Detroit organization called Bees in the D installed four honey bee hives adjacent to the living roof at Cobo Center to establish Cobo as a foster hive site. Honey harvested from the hives is used in Cobo 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, Bees in the D owner. “Cobo’s green roof is a perfect home for honey bees, 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.  The organization aims to contribute to both the health of honey bee colonies and the education of their importance to the environment. The four hives that make their home on Cobo’s green roof are a perfect example of this mission.

“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.

The 10,000 square-foot living green roof was installed at Cobo Center as part of the recent $279 million renovation, and creates a natural habitat for birds and insects as well as providing insulation to cool and heat the building. Twelve varieties of sedum are planted over a waterproofing membrane with layers of root barrier and natural drainage. Runoff rainwater is reused and distributed through the irrigation system to water the green roof.

A living roof observation area off the south fifth floor entrance to the facility from the rooftop parking structure is planned for installation in 2018. Signage, murals and other informative items will 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 with a long history in Detroit, will be creating 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. “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.”

Two portable Mamava suites will arrive in January, prior to the 2018 NAIAS, with benches, tables, mirrors and electricity for use by nursing mothers. The lactation stations can be moved to other parts of the facility depending on the event needs and will be used by staff, customers and visitors. They can be locked with a mobile app and Bluetooth enabled smart lock.

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

About Cobo Center: With 723,000 square feet of exhibit space, Cobo Center boasts one of the largest contiguous exhibit floor spaces in North America and is the 17th largest convention center in the country.  Visit online at

About SMG: Founded in 1977, SMG provides management services to 233 public assembly facilities including convention and exhibition centers, arenas, stadiums, theaters, performing arts centers, equestrian facilities, science centers and a variety of other venues. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 15 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 1.5 million sports and entertainment seats. SMG provides venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming, construction and design consulting, and pre-opening service. For more information visit

About the DRCFA: On Sept. 9, 2009, operational control of Cobo Center transferred to the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, under a collaborative agreement by the Michigan State Legislature, the City of Detroit, and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Each of these entities has an appointed member on the DRCFA Board. Larry Alexander is Chairman the Board as the member appointed by the Governor of the State of Michigan. For more information visit: