A city that takes pride in its vibrant downtown couldn’t draw a better meeting than the International Downtown Association (IDA), an organization dedicated to creating thriving downtowns, to puff its plumage.

The IDA came to Calgary last September for its annual meeting with nearly 700 attendees, including speakers and exhibitors, and had room blocks at the Hyatt Regency Calgary (the headquarters hotel) and the Calgary Marriott Hotel, which are both connected via walkways to the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, where the four-day meeting was held.

The association, whose members are from downtown development and urban redevelopment companies, chose Calgary because it made a financial commitment to host the meeting, and also because it fit the requirement of being what the IDA calls an “Urban Laboratory,” in that it can show attendees all sides of its downtown development—“The good, the bad and the ugly,” according to Alan L. Kleinfeld, CMP, managing director of Washington, D.C.-based MET-C Management, which oversaw the event.

“In the case of Calgary, their downtown is thriving and meets many of the criteria to make their downtown a place where people can live, work and play,” Kleinfeld says.

As the icing on the cake, the facilities were strategically suited to host a zero-waste event, which appealed greatly to the IDA.

“It was more about timing for us rather than location—it was time to go green,” Kleinfeld says. “However, Calgary proved to be a good place because the TELUS Convention Centre, along with our F&B provider, the Marriott, went above and beyond to help us meet our goal. They placed containers for recycling by food stations for glass, paper, metal, plastic and food waste. They provided water stations so we didn’t need to use plastic water bottles, and they helped us find the ‘spudware’—the cutlery made from potatoes. They were great about composting food waste and helping our exhibitors recycle their booths after the show.”

Other eco-conscious achievements enjoyed by Calgary include Calgary International Airport, which is the first airport in Canada certified green by the Building Owners Management Association; the Calgary TELUS Convention Center, which was awarded a “Go Green” certification; Heritage Historical Park, which recently completed a $65 million expansion following LEED principles; the Calgary Zoo, where the Enmax Conservatory, opening later this year, is designed to be the greenest building in the city; and the famed Calgary Stampede, which won top honors from the Recycling Council of Alberta in 2007.

And while the meeting was serious about not leaving a footprint—at least environmentally—attendees did get their feet walking on many pre- and post-meeting trips, including city tours, a brewery tour, a historical walking tour and its most popular program, a day-long tour to Banff. ?