Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where Can We Meet Green? For FREE!

Probably the most important decision you will make as a green meeting planner is where to hold your event. If you choose a city that already has green venues and hotels, commercial recycling and environmentally responsible vendors, a good deal of your work is done.

If not, you could potentially need to educate the venue and hotels about practices your group requires such as recycling or a towel and sheet reuse program. If there is commercial recycling available to these properties, it is much easier to get it implemented for your meeting. Likewise, if the local convention bureau can provide you with a list of green vendors, you don’t have to research what companies to work with to provide sustainable practices.

We are often asked, “What city should I choose for my group? Who has the best green resources?” In answer to your questions, we--Meeting Strategies Worldwide--are launching our latest website tool, “Best Places to MeetGreen®.” The website provides two innovative resources, the Best Places to MeetGreen® Scorecard and Calculator, for helping meeting and event planners to select the best green destination for their group. The site is free to use and is located at http://www.bestplacestomeetgreen.com/.

The Scorecard ranks cities according to the green programs implemented by the destination’s convention and visitor’s bureau, convention center and hotels in the city’s conference package. The practices are third-party verified by Meeting Strategies Worldwide. You can sort cities by total score, city name and city size. Listings for each city include their respective section and total green scores, brief descriptions of the city and its green practices, as well as URL and contact information.

Cool, huh? Finally, a verified list of destinations for us all to use!

Congratulations, Tonie!

Tonie Gilbertson, Program Manager at Intel Corporation decided to take the leap and not serve individual bottled water at a conference she was planning. Instead, Tonie provided participants with their own water bottles and water filling stations. After the conference, she reported to me this was tremendously successful and they saved $50,000 off of the bottom line!

Recently, Tonie was awarded the 2008 Environmental Excellence Bronze Award from Intel’s Environmental Leadership Team. Nominated by her manager for the “ISMC 2008 Reusable Water Bottle Project,” this award was chosen from the 53 applications. Traditionally these awards have been going to facilities for energy and water conservation projects.

The Award letter reads, “The Environmental Excellence Award Committee selected your team’s project because we felt that it exemplified environmental excellence and Intel’s commitment to environmental leadership. This award is in recognition of your green efforts, driving the use of reusable water bottles at Intel’s ISMC 2008. Thank you for your continued efforts to improve Intel’s World Class Environmental Performance,” Martin Todd Dorris, Environmental Excellence Award Team Leader.

WOW!!! You go, girl!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

From San Francisco to Margaritaville...By Bicycle

Here at the Wrap Party for Oracle Open World they are using pedal power to run the blenders making this frosty concoction. Now there’s an incentive! As the conference draws to a close and the beverages are flowing, we have the enviable job of watching the move out on the show floor and checking the recycling systems on the back dock.

There is so much to share about the Green Program. If you want to know more details on the greening of Oracle Open World, check out this website http://www.oracle.com/openworld/2008/green-program.html

We now wait for the measurements to come in from many different sources to see how high Oracle Open World was able to raise the bar on greening this conference. Was it perfect…no. No one is. Is it a major improvement from years past…yes!

One of the successes that cannot be measured is one which may impact you. Because Oracle took on this green program, the entire local hospitality community has learned, grown, and taken great strides to be more environmentally responsible. It is a legacy they leave to every meeting professional who will do business in San Francisco in the future. They have blazed the trail for those who follow.

They are not alone. Many of you are also doing this every time you push the demand for greener meetings in the cities where you choose to hold your meetings. Each time this happens, it gets a little easier for the rest of us.

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yep, Still Here

Hello from sunny San Francisco and my blogging on Open World’s green program. Working my way to the Green Pavilion I spy, "Pedal Power”. There are stations around the conference where you can hop on a stationary bicycle and generate your own electricity.

Just 15 minutes of pedaling generates enough energy to:

Power a laptop for 1 hour
Power a cell phone for 5 hours
Cook in a microwave on high for 1.2 minutes
Watch a flat screen LCD TV for 9 minutes (only 4.5 if the TV is plasma)
Use a hair dryer for 1.2 minutes
Toast 4 slices of bread

All this while burning 26 calories! I wish more participants were taking advantage of this great idea. Applause to those who are “off the grid” and on a bike. Personally, I think every house with a teenager should have one of these.

Next stop is a visit to one of the many water stations where you can refresh yourself using a biodegradable/compostable cup. Take it to go, or use the compost can is right next to the station. Oracle made the decision to do without any bottled water this year and according to those on the front lines there have been NO complaints! The risk is paying off.

Tomorrow is our last day here with a back-of-the-house tour and watching the move out on the show floor. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Still Live from San Francisco!

As promised, I am blogging live from Oracle Open World. It is my attempt to share what is actually happening at a conference that has taken on green practices. Last year’s conference set the benchmark and this year all efforts are towards raising the bar.

Now, I have planned conferences for a few thousand and know what it is like to work with large numbers of participants. Or so I thought. I must say, however, there are A LOT of folks here all wanting to work, play, network, and learn. Not to mention…eat, drink and sleep!

A conference program is really is a necessity this year. Planners took a look at what could be cut out of the program and reduced its size by one-third. They also switched to 100% post-consumer paper. In a related decision, they limited the amount of collateral printing at the show.

What was the impact of those decisions? A savings of….

965 Trees
411,585 gallons of water
692 million btu of energy
45,533 lbs. of solid waste
89,925 lbs. of greenhouse gases

The savings were announced at the opening session with great audience response!

Today’s lessons: look for ways to minimize printing; use 100% post consumer paper when you must print; measure it; and tell everyone what has been done on their behalf.

Tomorrow it is off to the conference’s “Green Marketplace.” Stay tuned!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Live From San Francisco!

This week finds me at Oracle Open World 2008 working with their team on the greening of their conference. The event takes place in San Francisco which is one of the greener destination cities in the US. The CVB estimates this event will generate over $100 million in revenue for the city.

Oracle OpenWorld 2008 will bring together over 40,000 participants during this week long program. They will occupy 88 hotels using approximately 73,000 room nights. Participants will have their choice of more than 1,800 sessions to attend. And the list of amazing statistics goes on.

Can a conference this size be green? Absolutely! Consider the impact on the environment possible with each decision. The Conference Team has focused on a Sustainability Initiative in partnership with their vendors, meeting venue and hotels. They started early in the process, they know what will be measured, they have educated the participants and now it is SHOW TIME!

Stay tuned as the week progresses. I thought it would be fun to blog about some of the creative ideas they have implemented and the excitement that is generated by the new green program as it is happening!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Travel Green

Here is the latest information on those of us who travel from the Travel Industry Association and the YPartnership…”

“According to a recent national survey we conducted with the Travel Industry Association, almost nine out of ten American adults profess to be “environmentally conscious.” The majority manifest their environmental concern by turning off the lights when leaving a room, being energy efficient by regulating air conditioning/heating temperatures when not at home, and recycling and/or composting trash. These activities are mentioned by more than eight in ten Americans who claim to be “green.” Here is what the travelers reported:

85% Are Environmentally Conscious

87% Turn off the lights when leaving the room

85% Regulate air conditioning/heating when not at home

82% Recycle and/or compost trash

73% Keep showers short

67% Read books/magazines or watch movies/videos about nature or the environment

57% Buy environmentally safe household products, even if they cost more

33% Use public transportation whenever possible

31% Car pool

Now let's all do the same when we are on the road!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Well That's Nice, But...

The Doubletree Hotel Portland has:

-Reduced overall waste disposal by 67% since 1996
-Diverted kitchen waste into compost at an average rate of 17 tons per month
-Reduced water usage by 15%
-Saved 9,500 gallons of gasoline per year with employee mass transit subsidies
-Purchased 900,000 kilowatt hours of its electricity from renewable power sources each year
-Purchased 65% of their food products from within a 500-mile region.

As a fellow hotelier, your response might be, “Well that’s nice, but do meeting planners really care? Do they book business because of those practices?

According to Jenny Baird, Director of Sales/Green Meeting Specialist for the hotel, “We have booked approximately $4 million worth of business due to green/sustainable practices.”

Enough said!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Results Are In!

Each year at IMEX, buyers are surveyed about green meetings and events. This information provides important and necessary measurements of meeting planner's attitudes and practices. It is also interesting to see the changes that have occurred over the years. So, with our thanks to Dale Hudson and Team IMEX, here are the results....


Friday, September 5, 2008

Now That's Local!

Just back from holiday on the Oregon Coast where I reconnected with nature and remembered why it is so important to consider the Earth in our planning practices, I am refreshed and ready to go.

My first mission is to participate in the Green Meeting Industry Council Board Retreat (more soon on the exciting developments coming from GMIC). Right now I wanted to tell you about a creative, green event held during the retreat...

After a long day of policy discussion, the GMIC Board arrived for dinner and were handed a grocery shopping bags (reusable of course) and shopping lists. We were sent across the street to the local farmers market to shop for our dinner. The group picked out fresh lettuce, tomatoes, zuchinni, berries, mushrooms and a variety of other yummy ingredients before returning to the outdoor dining area atop the EcoTrust Building (Gold LEED Certified, of course). Once there, the chefs and staff of the DoubleTree Hotel http://doubletree1.hilton.com/en_US/dt/hotel/RLLC-DT-Doubletree-Hotel-Executive-Meeting-Center-Portland-Lloyd-Center-Oregon/index.do made a fabulous dinner adding in local, natural lamb, chicken and dungeoness crab while we sipped local wines and microbrews. Minutes later, dinner was served! The flavor, texture and taste of each entree was incredible!

This creative idea and the entire retreat was sponsored by Travel Portland http://www.travelportland.com/ and the Portland, Oregon Hospitality Community. Now, I am not easily impressed anymore by industry events. I have been to so many fabulous ones, but I have to say, this was by far the best! WOW!