19
Apr
16

Would Mother Earth approve of ‘green’ venues?

Earth-DayOn Friday, we’ll celebrate Mother Nature’s finest creations. Spring is finally here in Michigan and as robins chirp and flowers start to bloom, it’s the perfect time for Earth Day.

Friday is Earth Day, so in anticipation of all things sustainability, let’s take a look at the Green Venue Report 2015, produced by Greenview and Twirl Management.

In the second annual survey, 30 convention centers, representing more than 57 million square feet of space, responded.

According to the report, there are seven best practices among environmentally friendly venues:

  • 83 percent have achieved a sustainability-related certification.
  • 80 percent donate excess food to local charities on an ongoing basis.
  • 85 percent participate in sustainability programs or initiatives led by their city.
  • 77 percent have an employee green team or sustainability committee.
  • 70 percent have a dedicated sustainability coordinator or sustainability manager on staff.
  • 87 percent have secure bike parking for staff.
  • 72 percent can provide event planners a specific waste diversion report for their event.

As for physical attributes, some venues have a green roof, which means it’s partially or all covered with vegetation. Green roofs reduce building energy use, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, beekeeping seems to be an increasing trend, with some venues practicing it on their green roofs.

Another emerging trend: onsite gardening. About one-third of venues produce food onsite from their gardens.

In addition to bolstering accessibility options for guests, an increasing number of venues offer transportation options for their employees. Fewer cars on the road means fewer emissions, so 63 percent of venues offer alternative transportation, or incentives for using public transportation, while 64 percent of venues offer electric car parking and charging.

The report states that while having someone lead efforts is key to fostering venue-wide sustainability, it’s challenging to keep employees engaged. Managers report they spend significant time training staff on environmental stewardship to help them understand the “why,” not just the “how.”

In fact, some organizations hold incentive programs for employees who are the most dedicated to reducing environmental footprints, hosting things such as luncheons.

global_sustainability-green-integrationAnd, of course, efforts would be remiss without effective communications. At the foundation of communications should be a clear sustainability policy that’s shared with all audiences. In the survey, 97 percent of venues reported having an internal sustainability policy and 64 percent said their policy is publicly available. At the same time, 45 percent of venues produce an annual sustainability report.

All efforts aside, Greenview found there’s confusion about terminology and measurement of practices. Data aren’t consistent and standards are lacking.

From the report:

“If these numbers are telling us that convention centers and planners are actually discussing sustainability, yet planners are still not taking advantage of sustainability programs, then perhaps this misstep in communication highlights a significant problem in the way we talk about sustainability in general. Perhaps there is an opportunity for centers to change the way they communicate their programs. Event sustainability conversations can’t be focused on additional costs and impact reports. Conversations need to happen in a way where planners better understand how utilizing the sustainable programs in place will enable them to create a unique and powerful event experience. An event that can be a showcase of organizational brand values, that has the potential to enhance attendee experience, demonstrate leadership, potentially reduce costs and is more efficient and less wasteful.”

So take some time on Friday and think about how your organization practices sustainability. And the next time you’re booking a venue, ask about its sustainability practices.

We’re all in this together. We only have one Earth, so let’s take care of it!


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meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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