Meeting planners make countless decisions all day long, from venue and equipment to decorations and team-building activities. Now at the top of their list of considerations is environmental sustainability. To promote green meetings, Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California, has come up with six tips to select green meeting venues.
Planning and executing a green meeting is becoming far more commonplace with companies looking to improve their environmental footprint and ultimately cut costs. Meetings produce an exorbitant amount of waste, whether it’s food, energy, water or even paper. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2012, Americans generated about 251 million tons of trash and recycled and composted almost 87 million tons, a 34.5 percent recycling rate.
While we are making great strides in conservation, much more can be done. Meeting and event planners can really make their mark simply by asking the right questions when booking a venue. Asilomar Conference Grounds has committed to green business practices in all facets of operation. And now the Asilomar staff has come up with the following six tips to select green meeting venues:
Certified Green Business
Does the property hold an ISO 14001:2004 environmental certification? This shows a facility’s strong commitment to sustainability efforts and green practices.
What is the property doing to conserve energy? For example, at Asilomar the entire property uses CFL fixtures or is upgrading to LED lighting. They have also installed occupancy sensors around the property.
How aggressive is the property with regards to saving water? In areas such as California, it is key. Properties, like Asilomar, are busing large containers for drinking water for conference attendees rather than individual bottles. They encourage the use of reusable bottles and water fountains are filtered for refilling.
Meeting planners should inquire about a property’s means of disposal. Are there composting and recycle bins around property and in the rooms? Are the restaurants on property composting?
Green properties should be using biodegradable and nontoxic cleaning products. Cloths napkins should be used as opposed to paper. Marketing collateral that must be printed should be printed on 100 percent FSC certified and recycled paper stock along with vegetable-based inks. Asilomar follows these protocols along with many others including not accepting containers or packaging materials made from Styrofoam.
The restaurant should have a plan in place to offer sustainable meals. This means sourcing ingredients from local farmers and vendors. Is the property participating in local sustainable food initiatives like State of California’s Health Foods Initiative or Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program? Do they strive to use local and organic ingredients whenever possible?