Green event and convention planning is now an established trend within the global tourism and convention industry.
Parts of the tourism and convention industry now promote green meetings, conferences, and convention planning as demand for sustainability measures increases. Industry associations have produced standards and guides for green meetings. Government agencies and non-profit organizations also promote these practices with research, recommendations, grants and technical support. Some private consultants in the meeting planning industry specialize in mounting green events, and industry groups and governments now sponsor awards to recognize achievements.
Green conventions, meetings, conferencing and events are part of an international movement to achieve a sustainable world economy and livable planet.
How do the standards operate?
The standards are divided into nine major areas of meeting production:
- Accommodationprimarily covers hotels and motels, but also can include bed and breakfasts, hostels or any facility that provides sleeping rooms.
- Audio Visual encompasses sound, lighting and staging for events or meetings.
- Communications is the catch-all for anything that supports event communications, from the printed program and promotional materials to name badges and conference bags or giveaways.
- Destinationscovers any city or area that supports meetings, events or conventions. The standard only covers aspects of a destination as it relates to meetings/conventions. For example, it requires the city to support recycling and composting and have public transportation options to and from the airport and meeting locations.
- Exhibits includes the practices of the general service contractor who sets up the show, the show organizers and the companies that exhibit at the trade show.
- Food and beverage is self-explanatory, encompassing any food and beverage that is served, whether the provider is a restaurant, hotel or independent caterer.
- Meeting venue is any facility used to house the meeting or event. While there are other, more recognized facility standards, the scope of the ASTM Green Meeting Standards addresses the operation of a facility as it relates to the delivery of a meeting.
- On-site office addresses the practices of the organization that produces the event while setting up and delivering the event. The standard includes using energy-efficient electronic equipment and ensuring staff participates in recycling efforts and sustainable practices.
- Transportation generally covers attendee and staff travel to and from the event and any shuttle bus services provided to transport attendees from venue to venue.
Each of the standard’s specifications is organized into eight categories. Four categories address policy practices such as staff management to ensure a sustainability policy is in place and staff is trained. Communications are about ensuring the practices are communicated and methods follow sustainable practices. The community partners section has specifications that ensure local community support. Procurement encompasses purchasing and supply chain adoption. The other four deal with environmental specifications involving waste, energy, water and air quality. Each standard has four levels of mastery, scaled from 1 to 4.
Ideally, these standards will be embraced by both planners and suppliers who want to ensure that their processes and services come together to produce an environmentally sustainable meeting. The planner and supplier need each other to perform at the same level in order to meet minimum expectations; neither can claim to have mastered the standards unless the other has completed its fair share of the process.
For example, a fundamental function of the standards is that both the supplier and planner have a sustainability policy (here’s a PDF to help you create one if you don’t currently have one in place). If the planner maintains one but the supplier doesn’t, the planner can’t claim to have completed that component. Think of the standards as a puzzle where all the parts need to fit together to create the whole picture.
Greening your meeting!