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Green Meetings

The rundown on all those green terms thrown around in the business events and travel industry

If you see an official looking eco-label slapped on a product, it’s gotta be green, right? The answer, like the labels themselves, is puzzling. “The proliferation of green labels makes it hard to see through them; some are more reliable and meaningful than others,” says Scott McDougall, president and CEO of TerraChoice Group Inc., a science-based marketing firm in Ottawa whose products and services include North America’s largest environmental standard and certification mark, EcoLogo. Here’s a rundown of some of the labels that will pop up on your radar screen.

EcoLogo. A third-party organization formed in 1988 by the Canadian Federal Government, EcoLogo develops rigorous and scientifically sound criteria that reflects the entire product life cycle. More than 120 products, from air travel and envelopes to bags and coffee have been analyzed.

Energy Star. Managed by Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency, this rating indicates that products meet or exceed higher energy efficiency levels and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Products are tested in an approved, accredited lab. Event-related items that are Energy Star rated include electronics, office equipment, lighting and signage.

GreenKey. Administered by the Hotel Association of Canada, Green Key is a voluntary environmental self-audit that assesses a property’s operations and sustainability. Answers to the online audit’s 140 questions are compiled and the property receives a rating of one to five Green Keys. To verify results—and encourage honest reporting—random on-site inspections are

Ocean Wise. This conservation program, managed by the Vancouver Aquarium, works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers to ensure they have the most current scientific information about seafood, and ocean-friendly buying. Criteria? Abundance and resilience to fishing pressures; harvested to limit bycatch (animals caught unintentionally); and harvested to limit damage to marine or aquatic habitats.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). An internationally recognized green building point system, managed by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, is based on four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The more points, the higher the LEED level. Certification is achieved following approved application, independent review and audit.

Zero Waste. More a term than a formal label, zero waste is all about preventing, eliminating or recycling everything generated during a given event. At Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s first ever zero-waste conference way back in 2007, for example, recyclable paper products replaced Styrofoam, and leftover food was donated or composted.

by Sherryll Sobie

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