Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If Not Now, When?

I was upset to read that Benchmark Hospitality International (in a recent One+ article) stated the, "#2 Top Meeting Trend. It is not easy being green. Or at least it's not easy being green in a challenging economy."

Really? Has there ever been a better time? Doesn't this economy call for innovation? We are all looking for ways to save money--planners and suppliers alike.

Luckily, the Intercontinental Hotels Group agrees. IHG, the world's largest hotel company by number of rooms, is trialling a new on-line system called ‘Green Engage*', which will help hotel general managers manage energy consumption more effectively. Early trials have shown potential energy savings of up to 25%. If fully adopted by all hotels across the 4,000 strong IHG portfolio, it is estimated that the savings for hotel owners could be as much as $200 million.

The IHG ‘Green Engage' software works by hotels directly inputting data on site. The system automatically compares hotels of a similar nature across the world and lists a series of actions that each hotel can take to reduce waste and the consumption of energy and water.

Huge savings for both the environment and their bottom line! I repeat, has there ever been a better time?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You Do The Math

Count how many of the top food and beverage trends are also sustainable and environmentally responsible:

From the 2009 Chef Survey, National Restaurant Association

1. Locally grown produce

2. Bite size/mini desserts

3. Organic produce

4. New cuts of meat

5. Superfruits (ie acai, goji berry)

6. Small plates/tapas

7. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor

8. Sustainable seafood

9. Nutrition/health (ie antioxidants, high-fiber)

10. Nontraditional fish

11. Organic wine

12. Micro-vegetables

13. Dessert flights/combos

14. Free-range poultry/pork

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sustainable Summer Reading

Industry publications are covering green meeting practices this summer in a big way. Three great examples just passing across my desk this week were:

Meeting & Conventions West with an "Update on Green Meetings" (May 2009) (OK, I am a little behind in my reading). http://www.mcmag.com/

Corporate Meetings & Incentives (July 2009) devoted this edition to Lean & Green http://meetingsnet.com/corporatemeetingsincentives/

Convene (July 2009) "Wind at their Backs" a case study about the WINDPOWER conference http://www.pcma.org/Convene/Issue_Archives/July_2009/Green_Meetings.htm

A little light reading while you sit by the pool--working virtually!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

News You Can Use

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) created a Green Meetings Directory, which allows planners to locate organizations that have made commitments to becoming more eco-friendly.

The directory is located at http://www.greenmeetingsdirectory.com/ or a quick link from the GMIC's home page http://www.greenmeetings.info/ Meeting professionals will find video and text listings, total product and service offerings, and contact information for GMIC members that join the directory. The new directory is open to all current members of GMIC who wish to list their offerings, including destinations, hotels, vendor products and other service providers.

Start using this great resource today--I am!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Are Pigs Going To Fly?

I just read an article in Environmental Leader, "AAA TourBooks Tag Green Hotels with “Eco” Icon", about how AAA will now list green hotels in both their books and on their website. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/07/13/aaa-tourbooks-tag-green-hotels-with-eco-icon/For years, AAA has not been interested in promoting the environmental practices of hotels and resort properties and according to my sources not open to the conversation. My guess is that it took a very large number of members requesting this information to push this change. Well done!

Now if AAA would just include environmental criteria in their Diamond rating system, the pigs could get off the runway and take flight.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Greenwashing Running Rampant

In the past, we have talked about greenwashing (you know, the practice of "advertising positive environmental practices while acting in the opposite way"). Today, As corporations are trying harder than ever to "look good" and we are seeing more suds than ever. So how can you avoid falling prey to greenwashing?

Here are a few tips:

-Be informed: The first step is to make sure you research your supply chain. What does it mean when your suppliers say they are green? Don’t be afraid to ask them about their specific practices.

-Understand what terms such as ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ mean. Natural does not necessarily mean healthy--arsenic, uranium and formaldehyde are natural yet poisonous. And as far as non-toxic goes, everything is can be toxic, or deadly in sufficient dosages including oxygen, water and salt.

-Be clear on the criteria used by ecolabels and certifications. The hotel sector has introduced quite a few, such as Green Seal (US), Green Key (Canada) and Green Globe (Europe and Austral-asia). These are all third party certifications which that look at green operations. LEED certification looks at green construction. When researching ecolabels and certifications look for those that use clear criteria, adopt third party verification and report regularly on their environmental performance.

-Participate in a back of house tour. This is the most effective way to ensure that vendors who claim to be green are actually operating in a green way. Ask to see the kitchen and areas where waste is sorted. Vendors who are being honest will not be fearful of letting you see what they do in the back of house.

-Be transparent in your own practices. Do what you say and be honest about what you do. Your risk of greenwashing your own practices is reduced when you are clear and up front about your commitment, intentions and actions.

The general rule of thumb still appies: Caveat emptor – buyer beware!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Red, White and Green

As we here in the US head out for a long holiday weekend (with a nod to Canada who already celebrated this week), I wanted to post a quick reminder. If you are involved in green meetings in ANY way, you should be subscribed to the Green Meetings Portal http://www.sustainablemeetingsportal.com/ I know I have talked about it before, but it bears repeating as it has quickly become an incredible resource.

I am getting information several times a week on what's new in the green meeting industry, content from recent conferences I can't attend, certfication updates, etc.

This kind of information will make your job so much easier and keep you connected to others in the community working together to make a difference!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Serving It Up Hot, Green and Local!

Sustainability is still a key initiative for the food service industry based on an article in the Environmental Leader.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Restaurant Associates (RA), a New York City-based foodservice, restaurant and catering company, have released their free Green Dining Best Practices, packed with recommendations for environmentally friendly foodservice. Covering sustainable food purchasing and dining facility operation, early results at two test RA clients, Random House and Hearst Corporation, show these two sites will save more than $85,000 each year, cut 275 tons of carbon pollution and reduce landfill waste by 60 tons annually.

In a National Restaurant Association survey of trends for 2009, environmentally friendly equipment and sustainable practices topped chefs’ lists of hot trends and top cost-savers. In 2008, the No. 1 trend among chefs was local produce, according to the “What’s Hot” survey.

The best practices recommendations focus on areas of the foodservice and restaurant industry with the biggest environmental impacts, including food purchasing (addressing specific products like meat, produce and seafood), facility operation (improvements in the use of energy, waste, and water), packaging, transportation of food, and the use of toxic cleaning chemicals.

As meeting professionals it is important that we also make menu selections for our participants according to these same practices. Here is the link to the full article. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/01/06/restaurants-to-become-greener-offer-more-local-produce-in-2009/