Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's the Little Things...

If you are like me and can't compete with the amazing efforts of Oracle OpenWorld, don't be discouraged. Every thing you do along the way makes a difference. A couple of things brought this to mind this week:

  • My local power company sent me a letter congratulating me for choosing renewable power and telling me for the past year "the equivalent environmental benefit was avoiding 11,839 pounds of CO2 which is equal to not driving 12,037 miles or planting 139 trees."
  • Toni Gilbertson, Intel, told one of my colleagues she stopped using plastic bottled water at her event after meeting me in October, 2007. The savings over 5 years has kept an estimated 6 tons of plastic out of the waste stream.
  • While preparing our corporate report, I saw my air travel was almost one-half the amount of the year before, yet I was able to reach 1,848 participants. All 12 virtual presentations had zero carbon footprint for travel, not to mention the cost savings.
So in my own little way, I am making the world a better place.

Stop a moment and think about your everyday decisions which lessen the environmental impact. Now pat yourself on the back. Congratulations, keep up the good work!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oracle OpenWorld Saves Half a Million Dollars

That's right, by moving attendees in a more efficient and environmentally responsible manner, Oracle has saved $500K in transportation costs over the past 4 years. For more information about how they did it, take a look at page 11 of the Oracle Openworld 2011 Case Study http://www.meetgreen.com/files/articles/MeetGreen_OOW_2011_Sustainability_Report_Final.pdf

Page 7 of that report will tell you about how their Event Branding Team is also onboard and 86% of their signs were diverted from the landfill.

As an added bonus, this year Oracle OpenWorld took a look at what their compliance would be against (then proposed, now final) APEX/ASTM Standards and proposed ISO 20121 Standards. Details can be found on pages 16 and 17 of the report.

In addition, they have achieved the highest ranking for an event of their size on the MeetGreen Calculator at a score of 86%.

Our continued gratitude to the entire Event Team at Oracle OpenWorld for sharing this information with the rest of us that we may learn. It takes courage, authenticity and a genuine desire to better our industry's footprint upon this Earth.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Standards Are Here, Now What?

That's right, the APEX/ASTM Standards (8 out of 9 anyway) are now available online. The waiting is over, now it is time for action.

If you are like me, your mind is probably racing with questions like...What will they mean to my organization, events, and my position? Where can I find them? How can I implement them? What sector should I start on? How do we already measure up? What happens if we don't?


First of all remember, we are in this together, standing by the edge of the pool. Now it is time to hold our noses and jump in. The good news is, we can hold hands until we get used to the water. I will be posting our experiences working with the APEX/ASTM Standards as well as tips and information as it becomes available on this blog. Feel free to share yours so we can all learn from each other.

Today, let's start dangling our legs over the edge and getting our feet wet by reviewing the list and their descriptions. http://www.conventionindustry.org/StandardsPractices/APEXASTM/APEXASTMlist.aspx If you feel adventurous, wade in and download one.

"Be the first one in the pool," a wise woman once told me. Here is our chance!

Monday, February 13, 2012

15 Most Walkable Convention Centers

One of the most important green meeting initiatives when selecting a destination for your meeting or event is walkability. Walkability simply means having access to parks, restaurants, hotels, shopping and grocery stores within walking distance. In this case, within walking distance of the convention center. This means your participants will not have to take a cab, rent a car or use public transportation. Saving money and the environment!

PCMA Convene recently published the 15 most walkable convention centers using the Walk Score walkability calculator. Convention centers are ranked from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best score. Here they are:

1. Colorado Convention Center, Denver - 97
2. Frontier Airlines Center, Milwaukie - 95
3. America's Center Convention Complex, St Louis - 95
4. Cleveland Center - 94
5. Albuquerque Convention Center - 92
6. Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, San Antonio - 91
7. Salt Palace, Salt Lake City - 91
8. Baltimore Convention Center - 89
9. Minneapolis Convention Center - 89
10. Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center - 86
11. Phoenix Convention Center - 86
12. San Diego Convention Center - 86
13. Oregon Convention Center - 85
14. George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston - 83
15. Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis - 80

If you want to take a look at other factors to consider when determining a destination for your event, check out Best Places to MeetGreen.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Insider's Perspective on APEX, GRI and ISO 20121

The title could have just as easily read, "The True Confessions of Amy Spatrisano." We offer it here in her own words...

The Global Reporting Initiative Launches the Event Organizers Sector Supplement…say what?

Have you heard the one about, "how many standards does it take for the meeting/event industry to have one they might actually use?" Apparently, the answer is three. At least that’s the number of standards and reporting protocol being released this year. They are:

1. APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standards
2. ISO 20121 Event Organizers Management Standard
3. Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Event Organizers Sector Supplement (EOSS).

Let’s not even talk about the names these things have!

Here’s my confession: I’ve been involved in all of those bodies of work. While I believe in the intentions behind the creation of each of them and that they do complement each other, they are not for everyone, at least not all at once. Especially if you’ve never measured or reported your impacts. Each body of work is intended to fill a particular focus.

• The APEX/ASTM standards measure what you must do to make your event sustainable.
• The ISO 20121 standard offers a process to manage your events sustainably.
• The GRI EOSS protocol for reporting on your impacts once the event is complete.

I firmly believe they each have merit and a purpose. Each offers a different aspect of sustainability engagement depending on an organization’s desire and commitment to measuring and reporting. Some may find adopting these standards a bit daunting. Please don’t lose heart. I encourage you to see for yourself which of them may be the most approachable. Know that you are not alone, this is new for all of us.

Shawna McKinley of MeetGreen® wrote a fabulous blog about what to consider if you’re engaging in the GRI EOSS. The questions she asks are sound ones to consider regardless of which of the standards or reporting tools your organizations might be contemplating.

3,920 Meals For The Hungry

If this was Jeopardy, the question would be, "How many meals can eleven people package at the local food bank in two hours?"

That's right, it took just two hours out of our day to make a difference by feeding hungry people in our community. I can't think of a better way to spend the time.

If your organization is looking for a way to give back to your community, simply find the local food bank with this easy tool http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx and ask how you can help.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Certification and Recognition...In The Heart of Texas

The Austin Convention Center is the first convention center in Texas to be awarded the LEED Gold Certification for Existing Buildings. They also have the stats to back up their green meeting initiatives:
  • diverting 66 percent of all waste from landfill
  • composting 250,000 pounds of organic waste in 2011
  • reducing its carbon footprint by 93 percent since 2007
  • reducing electric consumption by 20 percent (source: Austin Business Journal)

Well done!

My experience in Austin began way back in 1995, when I brought a large technology conference to the city. Never before, had I experienced such a level of commitment to client services from both the convention center and the CVB. It was the year I met, Monica Hammond, Austin Convention Center, and Janice Foster, Austin CVB.

When I began bringing environmental and social justice conferences to town, both these women jumped at the chance to learn more about sustainability. Monica was the first person to track how much water could be saved at a large banquet by not prefilling water glasses--without being requested or required. She showed up at the post-con with the stats in her hand. Janice has been trying to set up a donation stream for conferences visiting the city as her personal project--she wants to give back to the local community. She also makes sure I share any advice or trends I see with the whole department whenever I visit. Both are always eager to learn anything they can about green meetings, to better their city and their world.

I will most likely embarrass both of these amazing women by writing this post, but these unsung heroes deserve recognition too for making the City of Austin a destination high on my priority list.