The answer is definitively yes, we can all become more environmentally responsible, but it is a process — not an immediate
In the association industry, green or sustainable meetings
have gained momentum in the last two to three years, although
some have been at it much longer. If you’re considering a more
eco-friendly event, the following should help you get started.
ship in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certified buildings to advantage. Hilton, Hyatt, Fairmont and other major
hotels are creating “green teams” to ensure their properties are
working toward making their facilities more eco-friendly, while
saving money on lights, heating/cooling, soft goods, recycling,
sustainable carpeting and furniture.
2. LOOK FOR THE EASY OPPORTUNITIES.
There are a number of easy and cost effective ways to transition
your meeting to green:
• Put water coolers in every meeting room to eliminate bottled
• Purchase organic jute and recycled nylon attendee bags
(and donate any unused conference bags to a local charity)
Use post-consumer recycled paper handouts and print-on-demand computer workstations for additional handout
• Donate excess food to a local food bank or homeless kitchen
• Collect and recycle name badges
• Replace trash barrels with recycling or compost-friendly
Use energy-efficient hybrid buses to transport attendees to/
CHOOSE GREEN PARTNERS
In Simple Steps to Green Meetings and Events, by Amy Spa-trisano and Nancy Wilson, the co-authors provide a snapshot of
a typical meeting of 2,500 attendees at a five-day event and
their environmental impact: more than 60,000 plates, 85,000
napkins, 75,000 cups/glasses and 90,000 cans or bottles.
Depending on the type of products used (china vs. plastic, linen •
vs. paper, compostable vs. traditional plastic), the environmental implications are enormous. But they can be controlled by the
choices you make and the partners you work with at the hotels
and convention halls you select.
In early 2007, our consulting company decided to create a
new trade show and conference to promote environmentally
preferred products (EPP) to purchasing, procurement and facili- •
ties managers in private industry and federal/state/local government, including schools. We also made a conscious choice to
make the show itself as green as possible and practice what we
preached. One of our first steps was partnering with the Chicago
Department of the Environment. We knew Chicago intends to
become the “greenest” city in America, and we wanted to know
how city officials could assist a trade show that would attract
national EPP vendors and attendees from eight Midwestern
states. The city has been outstanding in recommending vendors, speakers, offering prominent figures and touting our show
in its promotional vehicles. Cooperation by your show’s local
governing body may not be as interactive, but seeking an environmentally related department within your locale will make
your discovery and work process immeasurably easier.
IN THE ASSOCIATION INDUSTRY,
GREEN OR SUSTAINABLE
IN THE LAST TWO
TO THREE YEARS.
GETTING STARTED WITH YOUR GREEN MEETING
A green meeting begins as a strategic planning consideration,
from site selection to hardware/software, transportation, food
and beverage, paper products, signage, giveaways, etc., and considers the environmental impact of everything. It also includes
social responsibility and humanitarian efforts with the sharing
of materials during and after the conference. In this context,
sustainable means to keep in existence, maintain or create an
endless cycle using eco-friendly resources and materials.
One of the primary myths surrounding a green meeting is
that it has to cost more. In some areas it may be more expensive,
but in many others you can realize significant cost savings. The
measure of a green meeting is like any other: What is the return
on your investment, both in tangible and intangible value?
1. SET AN INTERNAL POLICY OF CONSIDERING
GREEN OPPORTUNITIES IN EVERYTHING YOU DO.
From the city you choose to the facility for your meeting, you
should let vendors know that you prefer to work with environmentally friendly locations. In Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Hawaii
and the McCormick Place West building in Chicago, convention centers are marketing their sustainable efforts or Leader-
With savings on water, paper, plastic and the generous
donation of excess materials for consumption, reuse or recycling, your organization can make an enormous start on the
road to sustainability.
All associations can make some, if not most, of the
accommodations listed above with minimal effort, and in some
cases, achieve maximum savings. But you need to work with
the facilities to see how they can help make these changes
happen from the very first negotiation to increase your chances
In the case of the Green Procurement Exposition & Conference — Midwest, we are working with vendors who can supply
compostable plates, cups, glasses and flatware, because the
majority of our breaks and both of our lunches are in an
exhibit hall where china and silverware cannot be used. We are
encouraging all exhibitors to send electronic files of what traditionally would be printed leave-behinds to be included on a
CD or DVD of exhibit show materials. We are marketing the
conference by permission e-mail, with no hard copy brochures
to date, and all information related to the show can be found
on the show’s Web site. We have required our exhibition services vendor to post the exhibitor kits online or provide them
via CD, not to mail them unless specifically requested. We are
trading with a company to specifically haul the compost from
meal functions to a designated site in return for an exhibit
booth. We expect to have an agreement for recyclable carpeting for our aisles and have a trade for all disposable trash,