Posted by: Brigitte Diem-Guy,VP Sales & Marketing, SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts
In the words of the beloved and arguably most famous Muppet, Kermit the Frog: “It’s not easy being green.” This may be true if you are unfamiliar with green meeting planning techniques but in actuality, planning green meetings is quite simple and greening your meeting can even save you money!
Let’s look at why we should even plan green meetings. Events, from small meetings to large scale conventions, consume energy, produce waste and create harmful emissions. As the hospitality industry grows larger, it has an increasing effect on the environment and there is a growing awareness, especially in the Lodging sector, about the need to conserve our environment. If we want our future generations to enjoy the same standard of living we’ve experienced, we need to take action and there is no better place to start than in the meeting industry.
And guess what: Your attendees are pretty savvy about green travel and are more frequently expecting events to be green. According to a 2012 TripAdvisor survey of more than 700 travelers, 71 percent said they plan to make more eco-friendly choices in the next 12 months and 57 percent of travelers said they “often” make eco-friendly travel decisions, such as their choice of hotel.
But what is a green meeting? According to Environment Canada’s Green Meeting Guide , “a Green Meeting ensures that all aspects of an event, including its location, transportation, food services, and the provisions of materials are approached with pollution prevention in mind, in order to reduce its environmental impact.”
Sounds complicated? Not if you start with these 6 simple steps:
1. Select hotels and suppliers with green policies and practices
Green Key Global and The MPI Foundation Canada created the Green Key Meetings program, a comprehensive assessment tool for eco-friendly hotels that host meetings. Based on the results of a comprehensive environmental self-assessment, hoteliers are awarded a 1 – 5 Green Key Meetings Rating.
SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to the environment through various initiatives embraced by the company and at each of our hotels across Canada. Recently, the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon, owned and managed by SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts, and the recipient of the Hotel of the Year 2012 Award by Carlson Rezidor, has achieved the 3 Green Key Meeting rating. The rating was based on the hotel’s performance in six conference and meeting areas: Core Areas (Carbon, Energy, Waste, Water, Air Quality), Communication (Information, Training), Activities (Purchasing, Auditing, Community), People (Health), Exhibitions and Audio/Visual.
2. Reduce Waste
Print on both sides of all paper whenever possible for handouts or promotional materials.
Encourage speakers to use electronic means of presentations.
Allow meeting attendees to order presentations online or post them on your website.
Provide reusable name badges.
Give recycled materials precedence when making meeting supply purchases.
Choose a venue with an in-house recycling program.
Provide recycling stations for paper and recyclable beverage containers in meeting areas.
4. Conserve Energy, Reduce Traffic
Turn off all unneeded lighting. Take advantage of venues offering naturally lit meeting space.
Encourage use of public transportation or encourage shared-transportation.
If renting vehicles, consider ones with high fuel efficiency and hybrid cars.
Host all multi-session meetings at a central location to limit transportation needs.
5. Food Service and Lodging
Decrease usage of paper and plastic by using real china for all food and beverages.
Seek out venues or food vendors who buy locally and use seasonal products.
Use pitchers of water and soda instead of individual plastic bottles or cans.
Donate excess food to charitable organizations.
Choose hotels that have a Green Key Eco-Rating.
6. Utilize Technology
Use webinars and online media kits for meeting information
Create an event webpage or use social media to send important updates and to highlight speakers
Use online tools to manage on-site registration and last minute changes
Consider Hybrid Meetings or take advantage of a venue providing HD Event Video Conferencing.
And after the meeting use a Carbon and Ecological Footprint Events Calculator and proudly put the “green” results on your organization’s website. This could include the amount of paper avoided, water and energy saved, chemicals avoided, or testimonials of people who praised the meeting’s green aspects.
So, are green meetings a hassle? We believe: “It’s easy being green” if you simply follow our tips and select a hotel or venue with green policies and practices.
Do you have a green meeting tip? What could hotels do better to conserve our environment?
Share your comments here.