As stewards of the planet Earth, it is our responsibility to go green where ever and whenever we can. Making a conscientious effort to “Green Up” your meeting is easy! All you need do is ask a few questions and become aware of what you can do to enhance your green factor.
First, consider a “Green” Hotel. These are environmentally-friendly properties whose managers are eager to institute programs that save water, save energy and reduce solid waste. All while saving money! They institute such practices as adding “Drinking water served on request only” to the menu, all the way up to installing new HVAC systems, and with every measure in between. The “Green” Hotels Association encourages, promotes and supports the “greening” of the lodging industry. To see a listing of participating hotels check out: http://greenhotels.com/members.php.
Some questions or information you may ask of a hotel are:
- Does the facility and the group have a program to recycle and/or otherwise reduce solid waste?
- Is the facility accessible by public transit system from the airport and the downtown core?
- What information is available after the meeting detailing the environmental impacts/savings of the meeting?
- Does the facility and the group have: a comprehensive environmental policy and/or plan?, a program to reduce the consumption of water?, a program to reduce energy consumption?, a program to improve indoor air quality?
- Does the facility minimize the use of harmful chemicals used in cleaning?
- Describe any other environmental initiatives in place within the facility and within the group.
Consider including some environmental guideline clauses to be included in the contract, for example:
- All food used will be from locally grown and sustainable food vendors as much as is possible.
- Recycling bins will be offered in the meeting room, including one for recycling name tags.
- In case the venue fails to meet your sustainability goals, include an environmentally friendly remediation, such as the purchase of carbon offsets or documentable community service.
Make sure that the clauses are specific to who is responsible for the specific waste management in each area: recycling, energy use, nametags and conservation of resources.
The EPA has a free green event planning guide titled: It’s Easy Being Green! A Guide To Planning And Conducting Environmentally Aware Meetings And Events. The guide is complete with ways to gain support from your team, real life green meeting examples, and helpful checklists. For your free copy see: http://www.greenbiz.com/sites/default/files/document/O16F2392.pdf.
By putting these green measures in place you are not only helping to save the planet, but you may just find that you are saving on the costs of your meetings by re-using items and reducing the overall amount of energy required to hold your meeting. Become an advocate for environmentally aware meetings with your organization; allow your meetings to be an example for both your attendees and contractors!