You want to do the right thing. You want to be sustainable. You want to save resources by making wise choices for your meetings. At the end of the day, you want it to be easy.

The meetings industry has taken another leap in that direction. Recently, the industry’s first and only comprehensive standards for environmentally sustainable meetings were created through a partnership between the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) APEX initiative and ASTM International, and spearheaded by the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC). The result is a set of nine voluntary standards developed to provide planners and suppliers measurable specifications for producing events in a more sustainable manner.

Meeting venues were among the first to be certified in compliance with the standards specific to event venues. The Colorado Convention Center boasts that it holds the title of the first event and conference venue in the world to be certified in compliance with the standard specific to event venues. This venue achieved Level One certification with the ASTM Standard pertaining to the Evaluation and Selection of Venues for Environmentally Sustainable Meetings, Events, Trade Shows, and Conferences (E2774-11).

To comply with the Level One, Meeting Venue Standards, here are just a few of the items required of a facility:

  • Have a written environmental policy.
  • Achieve a minimum waste diversion rate of 30 percent over the course of a year or 45 percent for a particular event.
  • Have in place clearly labeled recycling bins at each trash bin.
  • Prohibit smoking inside.
  • Have 20 percent of its fixtures be high-efficiency fixtures.
  • Enforce a no-idling ordinance for vehicles.

Likewise, cities have been jumping on board to be certified in Level One, Destination Standards. Portland, Ore.; Chicago; and Denver are currently certified, with the list growing every day. Requirements the destinations must meet (but are not limited to) include:

  • The primary convention venue must meet the requirements of the standard’s Meeting Venue, Level One Specification. Adopt a sustainable energy program such as renewable power options.
  • Establish a 12-month municipal diversion baseline for the destination.
  • Provide information about donation programs that can be used for meetings, including a food donation program.

How does this help make your job easier?
Third-party certification provides the assurance that the suppliers are complying with the Environmentally Sustainable Standards. By checking the registry or asking the vendor if they have this certification, you know the sustainability level without further research.

We all know that “rates and dates” probably continue to be the most significant decision points when choosing a city and venue, but the added security of knowing the environmental initiatives of your meeting partner is also important.

Given the early adoption of the certification process, we look forward to a groundswell of locations, venues and other vendors who are able to serve your sustainability needs, without all of the research on your part. Help IS on the way!

Resources: GMIC, in partnership with iCompli, a nonprofit international auditing organization, certifies the destinations or meeting venues compliance with the APEX destination standard. A new registry on the GMIC website lists verified venues and destinations - find it here.

A complete set of the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Standards is available through the Convention Industry Council’s website in the “Standards & Practices” section: www.conventionindustry.org.