There’s been a lot of talk about green meetings in the past few years. And, thanks to some vigilant crusaders, we have seen some really positive change. The three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) are in full use at most meeting venues. A/V equipment manufacturers are producing more energy-efficient gear all the time. And bottled water consumption is on the decline. But what can you do to make things even better?
Let’s face it. Every meeting has some impact on the environment. Natural resources are consumed, waste is created. It’s unavoidable. Your charge is to minimize the impact – not eliminate it. So how do you make sure the property you select will help you minimize your next meeting’s environmental impact?
There are several checklists you can get from reliable resources like these:
- MeetingsNet.com has a 14-point checklist taken from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines.
- The U.S. Green Building Council has developed a green meeting venue selection guide that you can download for free at (The USGBC is the organization responsible for LEED certification.)
So you filled out your check lists and received environmental impact information from potential venues. Now what? How do you decipher and organize the data? And how can you be sure you’re getting the whole story from each property?
It’s simple, really. You have to kick the tires and look under the hood before you by that car. (Or should I say hybrid?) Visit the property in-person. Get past the “dog and pony show” you get on a normal site inspection. Find out what’s really going on behind the scenes.
- Meet with the head of housekeeping, maintenance and other management personnel charged with the property’s green program. Ask them to describe specific ways they reduce environmental impact every day.
- Ask to see the area where paper and other recyclables are processed. Keep in mind that you will not be going to the most glamorous part of the building. Some waste haulers do the sorting off premise, so there may not be active processing on property. In that case, ask for a detailed description of the agreement with the waste hauler.
- Find out how the staff are trained to handle environmental responsibilities. Is there formal training, are there formal checklists and performance measures?
- Talk to the staff. Ask them how they’re trained and what rules they follow. Take a look at a housekeeper’s cart. Is there provision for separating recyclables? What kind of cleaning products do they use and how effective are they?
Once you have the real inside information on each property’s environmental programs, you can make a more educated decision about which one will best help you keep your meeting’s impact to a minimum.
What are you doing to ensure meeting venues are walking their green talk? Leave a comment and let us know.