Earth Day Report Card
Greening practices that make the grade for brand experience
Written by: Jeff Chase, Vice President. Sustainability, Freeman and Jessica Glenn, Sustainability Manager, Freeman
This Saturday marks the 47th anniversary of Earth Day. It’s an important time to look at the progress and innovation we see in the brand experience industry and the dedication to sustainability practices and improvements around the world. The good news is the events and meeting industry, along with our colleagues in the travel industry, is making great strides to improve air quality, conserve energy, and eliminate waste.
In honor of this green holiday, let’s look at some sustainable stats (courtesy of the GBTA and The Green Venue Report) weighing on our world and, because we know there is always room for improvement, consider these A+ ideas for taking our green efforts even further.
Sources: GBTA and Green Venue Report 2016
Clear the air
In the meetings and events industry, air travel often comes with the territory. And with that travel comes the responsibility to make smart green choices. Now that more than half of the airlines use eco-conscious planes and ground transportation companies offer electric and hybrid cars, we have options. But there’s even more we can do.
When planning an event, think local. Local food, local labor, local materials, and hassle-free local transportation. Choosing locally sourced food and materials for the event and local labor to produce it can significantly reduce carbon emissions. By the same token, local transportation means using public transportation, shuttles, and shared rides versus a flurry of rental cars. When selecting hotels, choose locations that offer close proximity to the venue, allowing attendees to walk or bike. Consider offering incentives such as free vouchers, bike passes, or discounted public transportation tickets to keep attendees on the move.
When selecting a service contractor, take the same “think local” cue. Make sure the contractor offers support and supplies on site to avoid unnecessary transportation of personnel, equipment, furniture, and accessories. If you have special requests that require outsourcing, go with a locally based vendor.
Pump up the energy (saving!)
Choosing venues and convention centers that have invested in green energy technology and hold a LEED certification (or other green building certification) makes our events better and allows us to expend more energy on the experience itself. Fortunately for our industry, the number of green venues continues to rise as we make sustainability a priority.
During move-in and move-out, cut lighting to 30 or 50 percent, plan your HVAC use carefully, and limit working escalators to minimize impact. Another tip is talking to your audio visual provider — does it use Energy Star-certified equipment? Does it offer a battery recycling or donation program that could benefit a local charity? Does it power down electronics each night? Considering that microphones use multiple batteries a day at any given show and projectors and monitors often stay on, taking steps to implement these practices can benefit the venue and the community.
It’s hard to argue against the authenticity of face-to-face interactions, but conducting meetings and events online provides a valuable green alternative to save energy. As technology changes and advances our world each day, virtual and hybrid events can offer new, meaningful ways to connect. Wider distribution also allows more audiences to engage digitally, while virtual reality can transport guests to immersive environments without moving an inch!
More than half the global convention centers that participated in The Green Venue Report use waste sorting as a standard practice, and that number will continue to rise as greening practices become more active and mindful. Every little green step counts, so think about each item being ordered in terms of reduce, reuse, and recycle. For example, consider renting carpet with recycled content, which is typically made in darker hues such as black or grey — this type of rental carpet can be reused multiple times. Also, be vigilant when it comes to catering since more than half the food and beverages served at events often ends up in the trash. Avoid over-ordering, excessive snack breaks, and bottled water; instead, provide water refill stations.
Beyond this single-day celebration, choose to walk the Earth Day walk throughout the year with an active focus on sustainability practices to lessen our industry’s environmental impact and improve green best practices. Sustainability is a team effort, so be sure to choose partners and vendors who share your green goals. By working together, we can all lessen our carbon footprint and take steps toward a greener world.
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