Green Event Standards: weigh in!

The US-based initiative to create new voluntary standards for sustainable events will,  once finalized and accepted, drive real change in markets beyond US borders.  If you have any interest, business or personal with  sustainable practices within the meetings industry (and if you’re reading this, you do!), you have a vested interest in the outcome of these far reaching standards.  The APEX standards initiative is at a critical review stage and welcomes your input.

The initiative addresses 9 unique areas related to the meetings industry (Hotels, venues, transportation, audio/visual services, food and beverage, communication, event planner actions and the destination itself) and each of these areas now have a draft standard.  The APEX web site (link above) provides access to the standards, by area, and blog format to offer your comments.green_meeting

Important note: these standards, which offer specific expectations for tactical actions in support of sustainable practices,  are designed to work in tandem with the BS8901 standard, which is the best and most recognized management system from which sustainable events can emerge (think of BS8901 as the closet with shelves and the APEX standards as, well, all your stuff).

The APEX standards will dramatically influence the meetings industry as we know it.  Be heard.  Weigh in.

Carbon Counters, Activate!

Posit : It’s important to measure event-related sustainability indicators  to further the cause and argument for sustainable events.

The most prominent and controversial star of the indicator lineup? Carbon emissions.

Carbon measurement: ‘A profusion of tools, a dearth of quality’

We’ve seen a mad scramble to create tools for tracking carbon emissions. Precious few, however, are designed to help meeting planners (lots of flights,hotel rooms, meals and printing).  Of those, none are designed to provide a simple output of quantifiable, respectable data (MyClimate has a great tool doesn’t provide easy graphs of tables to give the planner perspective of their impact.  At right is one we’ve developed)

For measurement to hit the mainstream:Carbon counter

  • carbon tools need to be easily updated with information readily available to the meeting planner
  • Event registration systems need to capture simple travel-related information from event participants and link that data to online tools that will provide meaningful perspective.
  • The data should be conveniently cataloged for easy reference and goal setting

We’re getting there

Hugo Kimber, an earlier contributor to our blog, recently developed the Carbon Manager.

This tool can be linked to event registration sites (the optimum situation) or can accept simple Excel files of flight information.  The more information a planner can provide, the better the report.

A very simple example of a registration based system can be seen here.  Developed by Mårten Lind and U&W, a Stockholm-based environmental consultancy, this tool asks easy questions and gives values to flights based on distance.  U&W is an approved partner of the great MyClimate offsetting products and they have their own array of compelling products for interested planners.

Which tools do you use and why? If you’re an event planner, what would you need to make carbon measurement part of every event?

Wanted: Waste measurement!

Sustainable events require meeting planners to ascertain the amount of waste produced during the course of the event.  Like the swimmer who has no idea if they are doing well until the clock measures their performance, planners need measurement to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts.

bound for the landfillAssuming that some degree of waste diversion (product re-use, recycling, composting or donation) is a potential for any event, we now need to show that it is not only possible, but necessary.

The Green Meetings industry Council Trash Challenge is an industry initiative intended to ignite a movement amongst planners and industry suppliers to overcome the barriers to basic sustainability measurements: Waste management data capture can be confusing for planners.  Because it’s confusing, they don’t ask.  When they don’t ask, venues don’t help or do not develop systems to provide clients such data.

The planners who say that such measurements are difficult are the same planners that know intimately 4 different meal counts, transfer times for shuttles, hotel commission percentages and how much a canceled exhibitor will affect their budget.   I make the argument that if you can ask a hotel for a rooming list, you can ask a venue for waste data.

Meanwhile, venues and hotels suffer huge expense for waste removal   I further assert that t is hardly wrong or audacious to ask your event suppliers to help capture event waste data.  Your efforts to track and reduce waste is a benefit to them and the effort to work together can be positioned as a partnership in smarter practices.

If venues resist, recall that they are often influenced by the successful performance of other locations.  Many examples exist:  San Francisco’s Moscone Center,  and Portland’s Doubletree Hotel are just two event suppliers who experience cost savings and positive PR as a result of sustainable waste management processes.

Measurement is both possible and necessary.

The Trash Challenge needs your participation.

Examples and ideas and suggestions?  Please share..

Water waste not, water want not

A longtime event organizing collaboration between our company, MCI Group, and Stockholm International Water Institute’s World Water Week brings water issues close to home. Referencing this research, thousands of lives hang in the balance. Sanitation concerns, distribution issues, environmental impacts, and educational issues all combine to make this what may be the biggest sleeping giant affecting global communities right now. In fact, many close to issues of global sustainable development see clean water scarcity as the most ignored crisis and are hopeful that the current focus on climate change impacts can result in some action being taken.

Meanwhile, 30% of available fresh drinking water supplied to households in the USA is used to flush toilets. A related statistic, and closer to home for the meetings industry, is that the average meeting delegate (read: 1 person) uses over 3400 liters (850 gallons) of water during a 3 day conference. That’s something like 3 times the amount they would use at home. With water becoming an ever more precious resource, meeting planners can lead the way for better practices by asking for more from suppliers and by raising awareness. Some thoughts:

  • When performing site visits at hotels and congress centers, ask for the documentation showing that showerheads, sinks and toilets are low flow
  • Promote awareness among your delegates by providing water saving tips
  • Provide lifestraws as speaker gifts to raise awareness

More / better Ideas? Please share!

Mandatory Reporting on Sustainability

I am at the World Business Summit on Climate Change, which we are helping to organize in Copenhagen as a feed in event to COP15. The event features over 800 CEOs of industry and major climate change experts. As a recommendation to be submitted to the UN at COP15, industry is asking that Carbon reporting becomes Mandatory in a companies statutory accounts.

Today the Climate Disclosure Standards Board in conjunction with the  Carbon Disclosure project and the big 4 accounting firms launched a globally accepted framework, based on existing standards, for corporate reporting on climate change. This will be interesting for your CFOs –

Sustainability and carbon reporting will become mandatory in many countries in the near future. It already is in Denmark, the UK, probably will soon be in Norway, Australia and perhaps even in China. The US is not far behind.

The meetings industry will soon be under pressure to measure their emissions. It wont be optional!Perhaps its time for an industry standard way of measure the GHG emissions of the events sector?

Its interesting that some countries have chosen the Global Compact as their reporting standard. Thankfully sector companies such as MCI and Intercontinental Hotels and associations such as MPI, have already signed the compact so will be ahead of the game.

MCI is working towards its footprint measurement implementing the GreenGlobe Index system and will publish its footprint in the next annual report.

For more info on sustainability reporting

Climate Disclosure Standards Board

Presentation: How to measure in sustainable events

Hugo Kimber of the Carbon Consultancy and I joined forced to give a combined training course on how to measure sustainability data in events and meetings. This was delivered as a workshop at the MPI event in Turin.

Below is the presentation. If you would like to see the presentation with a recorded audio accompaniment please click here. There is some excellent audience participation especially from the Danish attendees who explain how they are preparing Copenhagen for Cop15.

The session provides an introduction and practical guide to measurement and achievement of clear objectives on sustainability in the planning and delivery of meetings and events.

Delegates who already have a basic understanding of sustainability and are keen to advance in this increasingly important area of meetings management are ideal for this session and will walk away with the information and guidance required to make an immediate impact in the delivery of sustainable events.

The presentation discuss GreenWashing and how to use measurement to build credibility in your sustainability strategy.


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