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.

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