Friday, 30 March 2007

Boston Green Tourism Positions City as Eco-Friendly Meetings Destination

By Glenn Hasek

BOSTON—Formed a year ago as an outgrowth of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions (CERC), Boston Green Tourism (BGT) is working to position America’s Walking City as the place to go to find green hotels and meeting facilities. The organization already has 76 active members including hoteliers, restaurateurs, vendors, and convention center and government officials.

“It is a three-year project,” says Dan Ruben, executive director of BGT, who as executive director of CERC led efforts to green America’s two political conventions in 2004.

The goals of BGT are four-fold:

• Establish Greater Boston as a preeminent destination for environment-minded visitors by complementing the area’s beauty, natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities with a full array of environmentally friendly visitor services.
• Boost Greater Boston’s convention and tourism business by promoting the area’s unique environmental advantages, accomplishments and innovations.
• Protect the environment by improving the environmental performance of Greater Boston’s visitor industry and modeling its achievements for others to emulate.
• Showcase the environmental best practices adopted by Boston’s commercial and governmental institutions to the public and media.

Thirty-seven hotels now participate in BGT. One of the goals of the organization is to get as many Boston area hotels as possible to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program or Green Seal. Hotels participating in Energy Star or Green Seal benefit from reduced energy, water and waste costs, improved indoor air quality and public relations exposure. Numerous area hotels are currently Energy Star rated, including The Lenox Hotel, Jurys Boston Hotel, Irving House at Harvard, and Comfort Inn & Suites. Several more will earn the label by spring 2007.

BGT markets hotels that have achieved or are moving towards the Energy Star label or certification from Green Seal’s program for lodging properties. Its Lodging Committee helps hoteliers interested in certification by scheduling meetings with Energy Star representatives and other experts, sharing information about green products and services, guiding members through the certification process, offering green hotel tours, and discussing successes and lessons learned.

Demand for Green Facilities Increases

Ruben says meeting planners are beginning to ask for green facilities—leisure travelers, too. Meeting planners may not know always know what distinguishes a hotel as a green hotel and BGT is trying to change that. The Energy Star and Green Seal programs are well known programs that planners recognize.

“We are attracting meeting planners,” Ruben says. “We are talking to environment-oriented organizations. The environmental field is enormous. It is critical that large groups choose green hotels and convention centers. It is also important for the public to demand green facilities.”

BGT is also working with the Chefs Collaborative and the Sharon, Mass.-based Green Restaurant Assn. (GRA) to encourage Greater Boston food establishments to become GRA-certified. BGT and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection recently were awarded a grant to support waste reduction and recycling programs, with an emphasis on food waste, at Massachusetts convention centers and hotels.

Already, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) has attracted one green event in 2008—the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild conference. Their new recycling program was an important component of their application. The conference will attract 11,000 to 15,000 attendees. Many of those attendees will stay in Boston’s green hotels.

Len Czarnecki, hotel manager at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, says his hotel has been a member of BGT for more than a year now. He values the educational opportunities that BGT meetings provide. Members share best practices and guest speakers are brought in to share ideas. Czarnecki says the time is right for an organization such as BGT.

“Many organizations that do travel and put on meetings are seeking out venues with sustainable programs,” he says. “An increasing number of RFPs are submitted with addendums with green checklists. Some groups require green practices. That is something we did not see 18 months ago.”

Even though BGT’s staff is small—only Ruben’s position is a paid position—it has been growing thanks to volunteer participation. The BGT Steering Committee meets every several months. The Lodging Committee meets every six to eight weeks. The next Lodging Committee meeting will be November 9 from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Press article
Boston Green Tourism

Manchester Green City

Cities around the world are undertaking broad-based initiatives to become more livable and sustainable. So what makes Manchester different? It is integrating the meeting and event sector into the process. Not only is it considering how sustainability makes the city more marketable as a conference destination, but how meetings and events are an avenue for sustainable practice.

Manchester green meetings guide
Manchester green city program

Toronto convention a historic first: 3000 delegates, zero waste

Toronto, ON - Canada’s first zero-waste convention begins today as the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) opens its 51st Annual Meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The convention’s 3,000 delegates represent North American leaders of the meeting and convention industry, illustrating the growing emphasis on green meetings among industry leaders.

“This is a proud first for our association as we work to keep on the forefront of meeting trends and technologies,” said Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of PCMA. “For Toronto, this is an achievement that puts the destination and the Convention Centre at the head of the class in a growing field.”

A meeting of this size would typically generate 90,000 cans or bottles, 75,000 cups, 87,500 napkins and 62,500 plates according to Meeting Strategies Worldwide. Through zero-waste efforts, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) and PCMA expect to reduce these numbers significantly and divert all waste away from landfill.

Throughout the convention, trained MTCC staff will collect, sort and recycle all used paper products, bottles and cans. They will also collect all leftover organic products from the food and beverage functions taking place at the facility to be donated to Second Harvest or recycled into compost. To ensure no waste is missed, the MTCC has removed its waste compactors and will have the loading docks monitored by an independent company, Turtle Island Recycling.

“It sounds simple and in many ways it is. The difference comes in making this a very real commitment to zero waste and putting all of the tools in place to ensure success,” said Barry Smith, President and CEO of the MTCC.

The MTCC held its first zero-waste event in December 2005 in conjunction with Construct Canada, one of the country’s largest and most complex trade shows. “Given the prominence of the PCMA annual meeting delegates within this industry and PCMA’s interest in partnering on this initiative, working on a zero-waste event seemed like an excellent fit,” added Mr. Smith.

Ontario Tourism Minister Jim Bradley saluted the initiative. "As a former Environment Minister, I am well aware of the importance of re-use, recycling and composting. I commend the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the Professional Convention Management Association for partnering to produce a zero-waste convention of some 3,000 delegates."

Across Toronto, convention facilities have made real commitments and meaningful investments to ensure Toronto is well positioned to accommodate the growing industry demand for green meetings. In addition to the MTCC, the Direct Energy Centre, Toronto Congress Centre and International Centre, as well as top convention hotels including the Fairmont Royal York and Sheraton Centre Toronto, make Toronto a compelling destination for meeting planners thinking green.

“We believe the green factor will be a fundamental part of meetings in the future,” said Bill Allen, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto. “This convention is a big first step in making sure Toronto is a global leader, and that we can use that enviable position to drive more convention business to Toronto.”

Press release

Green Meetings a Natural Fit in Toronto Region

Toronto is an inspiring setting for “green” meetings and conventions. From a windmill in the heart of the city to green roof projects, the people and businesses of Toronto are committed to environmental responsibility.

Toronto was ranked the 6th greenest among North American cities excelling in hosting green conventions, in 2006 by Meetings and Conventions magazine.

In 2000, Toronto set a goal to obtain a quarter of its energy needs from renewable energy. Several initiatives are contributing towards this objective, including:

• Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative Windmill: Toronto is home to the only urban wind turbine in North America. The 30-storey windmill produces 1 million kilowatt hours of energy and displaces 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

• Deep Lake Water Cooling: Toronto’s innovative Deep Lake Water Cooling system uses the cold water energy from Lake Ontario to cool high-rise buildings in downtown Toronto. Benefits include:
o reducing energy consumption by up to 90 per cent (compared with conventional chillers)
o reducing carbon dioxide emissions
o improving the water supply by using deeper intake pipes

• The City of Toronto hosts the annual Green Toronto Awards that honour leading companies, organizations and individuals who have contributed to the greening of Toronto.

• As part of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), the Toronto region has been designated as a Regional Centre for Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development. During the next ten years, the Toronto RCE will strengthen education for sustainable development, including implementing professional development programs that build capacity to deploy sustainable infrastructure. Green building is a fundamental underpinning of such sustainability.

Green initiatives at Toronto’s meeting facilities

Metro Toronto Convention Centre
The Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) received the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) GO Green designation in 2006, in addition to a Gold Award for Ontario Waste Minimization from the Recycling Council of Ontario. The MTCC has a solid record of recycling 64 per cent of all material. Other environmental initiatives include:
• A 300,000 square foot green roof above the south building
• Partnering with Second Harvest to donate food leftovers (approximately 2,000 lbs each year)
• The first facility to use Toronto’s Deep Lake Water Cooling system

Direct Energy Centre
The Direct Energy Centre is the only Canadian recipient of the 2006 Innovation Award from Trade Show Executive magazine for committing $7 million in naming rights fees to environmental initiatives. The Centre has an aggressive Waste Diversion Program and recently completed lighting retrofits to decrease energy consumption. An urban forestry program preserves the 2,750 trees across the site, which is irrigated with lake water.

Toronto Congress Centre
The Toronto Congress Centre recently announced plans for a major expansion of the facility’s trade and convention space, which will incorporate sustainable elements such as indoor air quality, energy efficiency, green energy and water conservation.

International Centre
The International Centre implemented a customized recycling program in 2006 at every trade and consumer show, special event and meeting. All cardboard and paper waste from exhibit halls and meeting rooms is now sorted, separated and shipped to recycling depots. Plastic and glass recycling occurs in all permanent and temporary food areas.

Fairmont Royal York Hotel
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts pioneered the Fairmont Green Partnership in 1990, leading the lodging industry in sustainable best practices by developing a comprehensive commitment to minimizing their hotels’ impact on the planet. The Fairmont Royal York currently recycles 85 per cent of all materials, and has made significant steps in the areas of energy and water conservation with a $2 million energy saving program which has resulted in a reduction of hydro use by 2.4 million KW and annual savings of $195,000. They have also instituted responsible purchasing policies, while continuing to play a key role in the social betterment of its community.

Sheraton Centre Toronto
The Sheraton Centre Toronto participates in Starwood Hotels & Resorts Green Program “You Make the Choice”, which encourages guests to reuse towels and linens during their stay. Other hotel-specific initiatives include blue box recycling and composting, energy and HVAC conservation, in addition to donating old furniture and hotel supplies to local charities.

Press release

The Green Urban Destination – A New Trend

National tourism organizations have been positioning and marketing themselves as green for some time. Destinations like Canada, New Zealand and Costa Rica have branded and marketed their nations as natural, pure and clean, capitalizing on the exceptional beauty of the natural environment.

It appears a more recent phenomenon to have urban destinations position themselves this way, yet urban hospitality communities worldwide are branding themselves as green. The following article in M & C Magazine shows just how far some cities marketing to the meeting and event sector are coming in this area.

Consider the following logos and web sites:


What is promised by these brands?
Why do we find them emerging now?
Is it proving successful?

Tourism Vancouver Commits to "Greening" of all its Flights"

Organization to purchase carbon offset credits to balance emissions from air travel

Tourism Vancouver has committed to "greening" all of its air travel with the purchase of carbon offset credits through Uniglobe Travel's Green Flight program, the only program of its type in Canada. Tourism Vancouver is the first destination marketing organization to commit to offsetting all of their flights through the program.

In 2007 Tourism Vancouver will offset approximately 220 metric tons of emissions resulting from the organization's air travel through investing in sustainable green energy projects in Western Canada that have been approved by the federal government. The organization will not only offset flights taken by staff traveling for sales and marketing business, but also those flights purchased to bring travel influencer clients, customers and media to Vancouver.

"The staff at Tourism Vancouver felt very strongly about joining this program," said Tourism Vancouver president & CEO Rick Antonson. "Having such a spectacular destination means that we're no strangers to getting out and truly enjoying our environment, and we understand that we need to make a commitment to preserving it."

"Given the nature of our business, the tourism industry has often been at the forefront of environmental responsibility. This is the right thing to do for the environment. We encourage all of our industry colleagues and partners to take similar steps in this direction."

Through Tourism Vancouver's partnership with Uniglobe Advance Travel, the organization will also be offering the opportunity to purchase carbon offset credits to all convention delegates coming to Vancouver for conferences and meetings, further extending the impact of the program. To find our more about this program and how you can implement it for your next meeting in Vancouver, contact our team.

Press release

What is....

....a commitment?

What is......