It's Easy Being Green

Environmentally friendly meetings can benefit their sponsors too.
Apr 01, 2007
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Easy on the Earth
As "green" options in the meeting and conference industry expand, environmentally conscious event planners, organizers, and companies are finding that going green not only benefits the planet and saves resources, but also offers a wealth of other advantages.

If you're considering having a "green meeting" or holding a conference at an environmentally conscious conference center, you're probably asking some of the following questions. The answers show how green meetings can make a difference to the environment and yield real rewards for your attendees and your budget.

What exactly is a "green meeting?"

After convening a task force on this topic, the Convention Industry Council presented this definition: "A green meeting or event incorporates environmental considerations to minimize its negative impact on the environment."

The task force met in 2003 to create minimum best practices for event organizers and suppliers to use in implementing policies of sustainability. The Council's "Green Meetings Report" (available at presents guidelines for planning environmentally friendly events, including choice of venue, transportation, food, and communications. For event venues, the recommendations include creating energy management programs, purchasing policies that favor reusable and environmentally friendly items, and adding recycling and linen reuse programs.

Will a green meeting or training session feel different from a regular event?

Most attendees likely won't discern any difference in their day-to-day experience.

Conference centers offering green events carefully integrate environmental considerations so they are not particularly noticeable. In fact, many changes actually occur behind the scenes. Practices like using recycled paper products or biodegradable cleaning products are imperceptible. Others, such as landscaping with native plants, simply add a pleasant sense of place to the surroundings.

Is "greening" an industry trend, or is it limited to a few, small centers?

While environmental responsibility is still hitting its stride in the meetings and training industry, several companies—including some large chains—have taken green initiatives seriously for years, and this commitment is not limited to smaller centers.

What features are used to create a green center?

Environmental responsibility can start with the building itself. A facility's design may take advantage of natural ventilation and daylight. Sensors that detect sunlight or motion cut down on energy waste, and water reclamation systems can significantly decrease facilities' potable water use.

Guest rooms can also feature dozens of environmental and energy-saving enhancements.

For example, sustainable "EcoRooms" at Aramark's Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas are painted with AFM Safecoat paints that are odor-free and non-allergenic for 99 percent of the population. Traditional coffee service is replaced with a single-cup machine that uses organic, fair-trade coffee beans and requires no paper filters or individually packaged coffees. Traditional ice buckets are replaced with coolers made from entirely recycled materials. Clock radios operate on batteries that recharge from any light source.

Furnishings can be environmentally friendly too, such as beds manufactured with natural rubber latex and organic cotton covers; countertops, wall and floor tile, and carpet made from recycled materials with processes that reduce energy consumption and air pollution; and furniture manufactured from reclaimed wood with natural product finishes.

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