Meetings + Events
The power of gathering people
The power of gathering people
By Doug O’Neill
“Over the next several years, the ability to offer green meetings will become one of the most important factors in generating attendance, participant satisfaction and overall success of meetings. The question is not whether or not to go green, but how to be the best at it.”
— Susan Sarfati, CEO of High Performance Strategies and one of Meeting News’ 25 most influential women in the meetings industry
“Too many businesses are too quiet about their commitment to sustainability,” says Jill Doucette, founder of Victoria-based Synergy Enterprises, which helps businesses embrace sustainable best practices. “It’s the opposite of green-washing. There are those who hesitate to publicize their sustainability policies for fear it will shine a light on what they’re not doing. It’s vital to understand that current and potential customers like to see authentic coverage of what a brand is doing in terms of sustainability. Highlighting green policies leads to brand trust.”
CHOOSING A GREEN HOTEL
It’s no longer enough to recycle towels and minimize linen changes. The Inn at Laurel Point, the first carbon neutral hotel in British Columbia and the 2016 winner of the EcoStar Award, earns kudos for its innovative hydrothermal technology, which uses cool water from the ocean—rather than electricity—to cool the rooms. The Inn also keeps 71 per cent of its waste out of the landfill, compared to 40 per cent attained by many other hotels. Visit the inn’s Corporate Social Responsibility policy. laurelpoint.com
GREEN MEETING SPACES
For many meeting planners in Canada, the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton is the gold standard of green-friendly meeting venues. It’s the first conference centre in Canada to earn the Green Key level five status. The centre is known for exceeding industry best practices for building operations and maintenance, and it’s one of only five conference centres in Canada to carry the prestigious International Green Meeting Certification. In addition to offering free waste audits, staff help clients plan waste-free, paper-free, low-impact conferences. Download the Sustainable Meetings Toolkit. shawconferencecentre.com
Did you know? By not pre-filling water glasses at banquet tables during three days of served lunches for 2,200 attendees, organizers can save 1,968 litres of water. Source: Meeting Strategies Worldwide
GREEN CAN SAVE YOU GREEN!
“There’s often an assumption—even fear—that going green will cost you money,” says Professor Rachel Dodds, a sustainability expert who teaches in Ryerson University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program in Toronto. “Reducing waste and encouraging reuse can save dollars. There’s a need to assuage that fear that grips so many business owners and operators.” An example from The Convention Industry Council: reusing name-tag badges for 1,300 conference attendees can save a meeting planner $1,200.
MAKE IT A BANNER DAY
Keep costly banners free of dates and sponsor logos so they can be reused at the next conference.
Offset your carbon footprint. Encourage attendees to offset the environmental impact of their journey (for example, the greenhouse gas emissions emitted by air travel) to the conference or meeting. Offsetters, which helps consumers invest their money in projects that reduce green house gas emissions elsewhere, was the official supplier of carbon offsets to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. offsetters.ca
SO LONG SWAG-BAG
Avoid traditional event bags filled with needless paper and plastic. Consider virtual swag bags, which can contain electronic coupons, discount offers and conference literature. virtualeventbags.com
CONSIDER LOW-IMPACT CONFERENCE TOURS
Treat conference attendees to zero-emission city tours. CVS Tours in Victoria uses electric double decker EV550 GreenPower buses. Benefits: no emissions and a quiet ride.
GREEN & SUSTAINABILITY: A BALANCING ACT
Deirdre Campbell, managing director of Beattie Tartan Integrated Communications, co-hosted the 2018 IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism conference in Victoria: “Green policies and sustainability practices must be financially viable for a business to succeed. Consider this example: Guests at a conference were given the option of having their room cleaned only once during a three-day stay. The goal was noble—to lessen the use of soap, cleaning supplies and energy consumption. But two factors were ignored: Firstly, a room left uncleaned for three days gets really dirty and can ultimately take as much soap and energy to clean. Secondly, reducing the number of cleanings meant hotel workers were losing shifts—and income. True sustainability includes support for the local community.”
YOUR PURCHASING HAS POWER!
Jill Doucette, of Synergy Enterprises, urges conference organizers to identify—at the outset of their event-planning process—criteria to be met by all potential suppliers and service providers. Doucette vets suppliers who support her team’s sustainable commitments:
1. To encourage environmentally and socially responsible products and services
2. To support local
3. To limit waste production
4. To limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce carbon impact
5. To give back to the community.
ENVIRONMENT CANADA'S GREEN MEETING GUIDE CHECKLIST
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