Green meetings are based on a sustainability framework which balances environmental, economic and social impacts in context of an organization's business needs.
There is a multi-phase approach to planning, managing and evaluating sustainable events.
Step 1: Create a plan (management system approach) for identifying your event's sustainability objectives. This plan should include how you will achieve your objectives and what are the key performance indicators to track the success of your plan.Identify specific activities, (such as a certain percentage of waste diversion, percentage of local or organic meals, etc.)metrics for tracking, and outcomes you want to achieve for each objective identified and who is responsible for the end results.
Step 2: Engage internal stakeholders in supporting your plan. Establish or create an sustainable meeting policy for your team/department/meeting. Ideally, this policy will reflect your internal values of your company/organization to ensure that is supported by your event efforts.
Step 3: Engage vendors in supporting your plan. Make the ask of your current vendors at cost savings or cost neutral pricing.Include language in your RFP process and contracts that includes vendors reporting back to you with the data you need to track your performance. (The first year can be your benchmark year to evaluate and grow in future years).
Step 4: Track your Performance. Just as we monitor our event budgets, we need to monitor and track the performance of our sustainability action plans. Post Event -- ensure accurate reports so you can build on them for future years and use in your site selection process. See some of our recommended tracking tools below.
Step 5: Communicate the Results,Celebrate the Success. While continuous improvement is always our goal as sustainability professionals; be sure to pause, breathe and share the success of your action plan with attendees, vendors, media and the industry. The more you can quantify your results in human scale terms (amount of $$ saved, amount of trees, amount of CO2 kept out of the atmosphere), the more engaged you and your stakeholders will be for your plan the following year.
Step 6: Be Innovative and Have Fun! This step may not technically be on the environmental management action plan; however, it is important for us as meeting professionals to enjoy what we are doing. Our goal is create rewarding experiences for our attendees. So if it is aligned with your organization--be creative and include a yoga break, human powered energy stations, networking events that have purpose in a local community. Remember to allow for some outdoor or nonscheduled activity time. Your attendees will appreciate your efforts to take care of their sustainable needs.
Interested to learn more from the field experts? Join GMIC where members share case studies, best practices and experiences on going green at local and global events.
Tools and Technologies for Reporting and Tracking
For planners and suppliers who are interested in standardizing the tracking and reporting of sustainability initiatives, GMIC has some favorite tools and technologies for your consideration. All measure against the APEX/ASTM standards, ISO 20121 standards, or Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards -- or some combination of all three!
The Sustainable Meeting Planning Program (SMPP)