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Green Events: Setting the Standards and Looking Ahead - Building Priorities Briefing

Even if your company is environmentally responsible, planning your annual meeting or sales conference pressures you to make compromises. Experts at GMIC, USGBC and the 2010 Olympic Committee share the philosophies that guide them through those decisions. If you've heard enough ideas like compostable utensils and web conferencing, this month's briefing will give you some fresh new perspectives to consider. (podcast)


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Theme music by Alexander Blu
Energy Minute music by Chris Keister

Program notes

If you're hoping for a typical, feel-good piece on green meetings, fasten your seatbelt. We're about to look at green events from some lofty perspectives.

When we put "green events" on the editorial calendar, I really wondered, "how many different ways are there to say 'reduce waste, buy green, and offset carbon?'"

Then I started interviewing people who are thinking way ahead of the rest of us about what it means to organize a green event. If you've heard enough ideas like compostable utensils and web conferencing, I think you'll like this month's briefing.

You listen to the Briefing because your company is environmentally responsible. Perhaps you occupy a green building, or buy green power, or encourage transit use. Then you have that annual meeting, or sales conference, or user group convention, and you're pressured to make compromises. Having a LEED-certified venue might mean more attendees have to travel long distances -- but the most convenient option doesn't want to work with you on reducing waste.

What are the philosophies that can guide you through those decisions? How can your company eventually become known for how green its events are? And when you get there, how can you use that reputation to influence others? That's what this month's briefing is about.

Interview: Tamara Kennedy-Hill, GMIC

Several years ago, before green meetings became the rage, a group in Portland Oregon began working on the idea of having some kind of green standards for meetings and events. The non-profit Green Meeting Industry Council encourages collaboration among its members toward the development of those standards. Tamara Kennedy-Hill is GMIC's executive director.

Interview: Kimberly Lewis, USGBC

Most of us don't plan large conventions, trade shows and conferences -- but there's plenty we can learn from those who do. Some conferences are simply expected to set the highest standards for green events.

Greenbuild is the big annual conference and trade show about green buildings in North America. It's produced by the United States Green Building Council, which is the same organization that certifies most green buildings in the US.

Owners, architects and builders would expect nothing less than to see the latest ideas in green events at Greenbuild. And they do. But what's even more notable is the ability of Greenbuild to bring change to the cities where it's held. Kimberly Lewis is the Vice President of Conferences for the USGBC.

Interview: Ann Duffy, VANOC

The bigger the event, the more attention it attracts for being green -- or not. What can we learn from events like Wimbledon, The Masters, or the Olympics? In 2010 the Winter Olympics are coming to Vancouver British Columbia. The Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games has a dedicated team of people focused on the sustainable legacy of the games. Ann Duffy is the Corporate Sustainability Officer for the 2010 Olympics.

Your next green meeting or event

As you plan your next event, think about the ideas you've heard here -- start with a few doable initiatives; measure everything; make green meetings an extension of your corporate culture. Strive not just to plan green, but to make your company known for how green its events are. And when you achieve that status, use it to influence others.


We do a lot live broadcasts - which we call "LiveCasts" in order to reach attendees unable to travel. Another tool to help cut down the environmental footprint?


Kimberly Lewis noted that USGBC is using "Greenbuild 365" to reach people who can't travel to Greenbuild. But in the next breath she points out that Greenbuild is the "tent revival meeting" for green architects and builders. Not sure all that made it into the program (sorry, we have to edit somewhere).

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today announced that it has been awarded the IMEX Green Meetings Award in recognition of the 2008 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, which took place in Boston, Mass. This is the third time that the USGBC has accepted this honor for demonstrating an unwavering dedication to minimizing the show’s impact on the environment.

ASHRAE recommendations on achieving 30 percent energy savings over minimum code requirements are contained in the newly published Advanced Energy Design Guide for Highway Lodging. The energy savings guidance for design of new hotels provides a first step toward achieving a net-zero-energy building.

The book is available for free in electronic form at www.ashrae.org/freeaedg

Great to see that the upcoming Olympic Games will be as green as can be. Keep on this good work, I think our earth will thank you for this.