"Talking with your CVB or convention center and finding out whether or not they have a green team or sustainability director will help indicate the destination’s commitment to sustainable events."
Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen the green meeting movement go through its highs and lows. Not that the desire for green meetings hasn’t always been on the consciousness of the meeting industry, but during the recession the sustainable meeting movement had to take a back seat. Now that the economy is improving there is a renewed passion for green meetings. One of the driving forces for this green renaissance is the APEX/ATSM Green Meeting Standards that have recently been creating a buzz in cities like Denver , Toronto and Orlando.
The initiative from the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) promotes development and implementation of industry-wide accepted practices to create and enhance efficiency throughout the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry. While we know many green meeting practices have been driven by event planners like recyclable name badges, locally sourced food and collateral available electronically, hosting a sustainable meeting takes a team approach. The best partner is your destination’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Working with the CVB from the beginning of your search and selection process will really help set the stage for a successful green meeting.
We know the most significant environmental impact of meetings is traveling to the destination. Yes, you can choose to hold meetings virtually; however, it’s important to remember that bringing people together from around the world is where ideas truly take flight. Sustainable meeting planners understand this and now more than ever sustainable meetings are taking place across the globe. But how do you choose a sustainable destination partner? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind while beginning your site selection process.
Accessibility and Infrastructure
Understanding a destination’s infrastructure and ease of transportation within the city as well as around the main event venue will help make your sustainable event a success. A few things to consider when talking with your CVB partner; distance (mileage) from the convention center to the airport, public transportation options between the convention center area and the airport, and the percentage of hotels within walking distance of the convention center. If not all attendees are able to stay within walking distance, planners will want to choose transportation suppliers that share their commitment to green practices such as low-impact or alternative fuel buses, hybrid shuttles/taxis or car cooperatives.
Environmental Initiatives in the Destination
Most planners I talk to are pretty seasoned when it comes to high-level sustainable practices. However, understanding the important back-of-house operations can be a lot more work for planners that are already stretched so thin. Talking with your CVB or convention center and finding out whether or not they have a green team or sustainability director will help indicate the destination’s commitment to sustainable events. Additionally, cities or counties having a sustainability or climate action plan are usually aware of impacts and are already working on initiatives that will support your sustainability goals.
Social Sustainability Initiatives in the Destination
Sustainable meetings are ultimately responsible meetings. Destinations that have donation programs in place really show their commitment to reducing waste in a way that positively impacts local groups and the community. Your destination’s CVB can help coordinate and provide resources related to volunteer opportunities as well as donation programs that show your commitment to reducing waste and minimizing the impact of your sustainable meeting.
Don’t call it a comeback. The desire for sustainable meetings has always been there, and it’s so exciting to see that while the economy was improving, destinations were making infrastructure, environmental and social improvements to benefit not only their community but also those who visit it.