In Business: Everybody's Green
The event industry is making strides, big and small, towards a sustainable futurePublished in January 2010 green events | Departments
The event industry is making strides, big and small, towards a sustainable future
Just a few years ago, providing environmentally sensitive aspects to events could set you apart from the competition. Today, it is not a competitive edge, it is a competitive necessity. As both corporations and individuals become more concerned about protecting the environment—and of making sure that concern is visible to others—event professionals are taking steps to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.
Founded in 1994, MeetGreen® works with organizations all over the world (it was formerly Meeting Strategies Worldwide) to bring green practices to the meetings industry. The company helped create the Green Meetings Industry Council, which promotes sustainable practices in the professional meetings, conference and hospitality sectors. In 2008, MeetGreen® produced Simple Steps to Green Meetings: A Professional Guide to Green Meetings and Events.
According to the company’s annual report, events that took into account issues of sustainability (such things as not using disposable plastic bottles, for example, or substituting LEDs for incandescent lighting) not only reduced the impact of meetings on the environment, it saved more than $2.5 million in costs.
During 2008, for example, 2,715 trees were saved by reducing paper use for events produced by MeetGreen® clients.
MeetGreen® provides a number of free tools to event professionals on its website, including:
• bestplacestomeetgreen.com, where you can choose a city that is closest to your attendees, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and then get research on how that destination is prepared to meet sustainability
• groups.google.com/group/meetgreen, a discussion forum where you can share questions and information with other event professionals who are concerned about sustainability.
• meetgreen.com, the company’s website, which has a toolbox that can help you with common sustainable practices.
Convene Green Alliance
Marriott International and the Convene Green Alliance sponsored the CGA Focus Forum in Washington, DC in November 2009, to demonstrate Marriott’s green initiatives.
The room at the J.W. Marriott Hotel was divided into four Experience Zones, with simultaneous demonstrations on communications and social responsibility, culinary programs, meeting logistics and building design/operations, all done by Marriott executives.
The meeting logistics zone was assembled to demonstrate Marriott’s growing portfolio of green meeting room set-up and logistical offerings. Attendees sat at linen-less tables made from 45 percent recycled materials and that are 99 percent recyclable themselves. Clear pitchers filled with water (no ice) replaced traditional bottled water, whole apples and organic chocolate and hard candies were made available at each seat, as were Marriott’s latest sustainable pens, and “logo-less” recyclable note papers.
For more information about the Convene Green Alliance—to become a complimentary member or to register for upcoming Focus Forums—go to convenegreen.com.
Alert to Divert
The Washington Convention and Sports Authority and ARAMARK, its facilities services partner, have implemented a comprehensive recycling program on a large scale, with an Alert to Divert education initiative.
Alert to Divert raises awareness before an event, so clients can optimize waste separation, increase recycling rates—and save money—during the event. “As part of several recycling initiatives, Alert to Divert has been well received,” says Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive officer of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority. “Our clients have already realized significant savings, since recycling hauls are free but trash hauls are not.”
The recycling program uses color codes to separate cardboard, mixed paper, glass and aluminum and plastic. Recycling stations are found in all exhibitor halls and meeting rooms. It’s standard operating procedure for clients to “Know the Code” before an event.
Save a forest Not every environmental effort is recycling and reusing. The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre is helping restore the Caledonian Forest. The SECC is one of the largest corporate sponsor of a project that aims to restore the ancient forest by planting dedicated trees and groves. Since joining the project in 2006, the SECC has supported the planting of an acre of native Scottish trees for each of its major conferences, and a grove of eight trees for each smaller event. In total, the venue’s sponsorship has helped cover more than 90 acres and 35 groves.