Monday, October 28, 2013

Steps in the Right Direction

The good news is, each year meeting professionals get a little more green savvy and the trend towards more sustainable meetings initiatives continues.  Thanks to research by Meetings & Conventions Magazine each year, we have been able to watch closely as our industry gets on board with green policies and procedures.

The recent survey reveals that 22% of planners now have a policy regarding green meetings.  Forty-six percent say their organization's meetings are greener now than they were two years ago.  Hopefully, as our industry moves forward, planners won't be forced to make economic vs. environmental decisions any longer.

This survey chart represents a real shift as green practices for hotels have moved into the "Prefer to Have" category in most areas.  Now we need to take the next step as a community and "Require" hotels to adopt these sustainable initiatives.  It's time to address these in the contract.

I am so proud of this industry and the change we have already made.  I salute you and urge you to keep up the good work! 

Personal note:  Let's hope none of us ever attends a meeting where one of the 3% planners who "prefer not to have local food sourced" is choosing the menu.  Sounds like a trucked in, frozen food bonanza.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Let the Sunshine In (and compost out)

When the Society for Ecological Restoration chose Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin, I was excited about the opportunity to work there.  Hearing so many reviews about the fabulous views, natural lighting and impeccable staff over the years, it was my turn to experience it.

Now as a green meeting professional, I sometimes look through a different "filter" than others and am not easily impressed.  You know, things like diversion rates and composting are critical for me.

During my back-of-the-house tour with Jeff Griffith, Monona Terrace's Building Maintenance and Technical Supervisor, I got down to the facts.  Here is a sampling of the data this LEED-certified Midwest convention center is very proud of:

  • 23.6 tons of kitchen scrap was composted in 2012 thanks to a pilot project with the University of Wisconsin
  • 53.4% current diversion from landfill rate
  • 18.3% reduction in energy use in five years
  • 31% reduction in water use over five years
  • 27.4% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

Even the room lights were on sensors and flicked on immediately upon entering.   The operations team had recycling bins next to all of the waste cans and allowed our attendees to do their own front-of-house recycling at meals where box lunches were served.  Guests took their lunches out into the midday sun to sit on one of the many terraces.

This Frank Lloyd Wright building was beautifully designed to take in the views and the sunshine.  With so much is being said about the benefits of  natural light in meeting centers and I know these SER2013 attendees would agree.

Note: This is not a paid endorsement, instead my experience in a building where I spent eight, 15 hour days last week.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dress for Success, Wear Your Passion

My passion for Planet Earth and my passion for the meetings industry have dovetailed into a career in sustainable meeting management.  MeetGreen is honored to support the efforts of organizations such as Society for Ecological Restoration, Living Future, The Nature Conservancy, and National Wildlife Refuge as they work towards a more livable world.

An opening address by Tia Nelson, daughter of Gaylor Nelson, father of Earth Day, inspired me once again with these words:

“The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity — that’s all there is. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.” — Gaylord Nelson

Remember that each of us contributes to the "wealth of our nation" by choices we make in our daily work, whatever work that may be.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seed Pod Lands on Capitol

Now that I have your attention, let me explain.  This art installation in Madison, Wisconsin, between the Monona Terrace Convention Center and the State Capitol was donated by the 2013 Society for Ecological Restoration Conference this week.

"Seed Pod" by Brenda Baker references the threat of invasive species to native plants and how they spread one seed at a time.   It was created using hand-harvested invasive species in the local Wisconsin area which shade out the native species.  The installation will help tell the story to visitors in this city and is very beautiful indeed (although, it didn't actually land on the Capitol Building).

Another excellent example of a conference giving back to the community, this time with art and learning.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Help Them Pack

The program is finalized, the banquet event orders are signed, sponsors have shipped their freight and now it's time for participants to head out for your event.

Wait, you may want to help them pack!

There are a few items they can bring to help save the environment, and in some cases, money!  On your last email out to conference attendees this fall, add these few tips:

  • Bring your own reusable coffee cup and water bottle
  • Pack one less pair of shoes and say goodbye to 4.85 lbs. of CO2 on your flight
  • Let us know what meals you will be attending so we don't over-order food
  • Before you leave home, stop your newspaper and turn down the heat
  • Take public transportation to and from the airport
  • When you arrive at the hotel, tell them you won't need a newspaper delivered (unless you are planning to read and recycle it)
  • Ask the hotel for their linen and towel reuse policy and hold them to it
  • Look for recycle and composting bins the event organizers have made available for you

Feel free to add your own environmental initiatives to the list, educating attendees on what you have done on their behalf to lessen the impact of your conference.  Evaluations show, your guests will be grateful and your organization's image will be shining.