Next week, in sunny Vancouver, BC, Meeting Professionals International will present the 2010 World Education Congress. There, the Green Meetings Industry Council will present for the first time ever an introduction to the APEX/ASTM Green Meetings and Events standard. A day long training session will provide attendees an understanding of how these standards are organized and provide insight to how they can be implemented in support of the organization of more sustainable businesses and events.
Never heard of APEX/ASTM? You will. By some accounts, the APEX standards are the answer meeting planners wanted before wandering down the path of BS8901. With its prescriptive, ‘checklist’ approach to defining what makes a green meeting, it aligns nicely with how many industry professionals work and measure performance. Recently, Marlene Goldman of Meetings Media, posed a few questions for
a just released article The Green Standard? In the responses below, I provide some perspective on what APEX is all about.
The debut of the APEX standards is the highlight of the season! Please attend the event in Vancouver, and make a point to participate in the APEX session. Then come back and share some feedback regarding the experience.
As promised, the question and answer section of the program:
At what stage is the rollout of the APEX Standards for green/sustainable meetings?
After 2 years of planning, discussions, workgroup, region meetings and review by more than 200 industry volunteers and professional standards writers, the APEX standard is scheduled for release in the summer of 2010.
APEX standards for green/sustainable meetings, are in effect 9 standards covering 9 areas unique to the meetings industry
- Audio/Visual and Production
- Communications & Marketing
- Food & Beverage
- Meeting Venue
- On-Site Offices
Because each of the 9 areas have been subject to a separate committee of professionals and have different degrees of complexity, each section has taken a different amount of time to complete. This highly complex process produced different formats which had to be unified and reviewed by technical writers for consistency before review by ASTM, the American Standards body.
How will the standards change and shape the green meetings industry?
Because the standards were written by a cross-disciplinary group of buyers and suppliers, and because they spell out specific actions/specific steps (as opposed to strategic philosophy), environmentally responsible actions become accessible. APEX has the potential to activate players in the market who are not yet engaged. Among the sparks which have led to the inception of the standards was a stated need by the EPA for a way to determine what travel-and-event-related products were environmentally responsible. If there becomes a requirement for hotels, venues, caterers, etc to meet a minimum standard for green practices to win government contracts, it could have profound influence on the market.
How are they different/similar to the British standards and other green standards from other countries?
There are similarities amongst all the standards but APEX and BS8901 are markedly different in how they are formatted and what they require for compliance. In simple terms, BS8901 is a way of working or a defined ‘process’. APEX is a specific checklist of tactics and expectations which define ‘what to do’. In addition to the CSMP, the BS8901 presentation at this link explores the way the two standards are similar and different: http://www.slideshare.net/michaelluehrs
Are planners still eager for the standards? How about suppliers?
A select group of planners are very eager for the standards and for a clear way to identify suppliers who will support their agenda for creating sustainable events. A larger, less engaged group of planners are not even aware that the standards are about to be released. There remains a large gap between the industry players who are working to better integrate sustainability and those that perhaps are not interested in changing the way they currently do business. Like television, which eventually offered buyers no option but color, APEX may have the effect of encouraging suppliers to adopt sustainable practices to the degree that, eventually, even without asking, planners will be organizing events which are by current thinking, ‘green’.
Will the added work that goes into creating an APEX standard meeting be a deterrent to planners?
For some, without question, yes. For the resisters mentioned above and perhaps others, the time to get educated about the standards and the time to ensure compliance with the standard will likely be reason to defer their compliance. The hope is that the market will reward those suppliers and planners who adopt the standard. In time, the laggards will comply even though a time investment may be necessary.
How will the standards change how MCI produces a sustainable event?
The APEX standards, as well as BS8901/ISO 20121 and the Global Reporting Initiative meetings sector supplement, are all influencing how we evolve as a company on our quest for quality, of which sustainability is a cornerstone. We currently use the standards to inform the Standard Operating Procedures for our project teams, and for the reports we issue our clients. With guidance from the standards, and ongoing innovation, we will continue the pursuit of sustainable event management for each MCI project.