Friday, 18 May 2007

Toronto among 16 cities in the world to get a green makeover

Sara Kugler, Canadian Press
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) - Toronto is one of 16 cities around the world getting financing to "go green" by renovating buildings they own to cut carbon emissions, former U.S. president Bill Clinton announced Wednesday.

Clinton's foundation has created an arrangement among four energy service companies and five global banking institutions that will result in major environmental upgrades in the cities, which also include New York, Chicago, Houston, Mexico City, London, Berlin, Tokyo and Rome.

"If all buildings were as efficient as they could be, we'd be saving an enormous amount of energy and significantly reducing carbon emissions. Also, we'd be saving a ton of money," Clinton said.

The planned projects include replacing heating, cooling and lighting systems with energy-efficient networks; making roofs white or reflective to deflect more of the sun's heat; sealing windows and installing new models that let more light in and keep the elements out; and setting up sensors to control more efficient use of lights and air conditioning.

The former president said Citi, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, UBS and ABN Amro have each committed US$1 billion to finance the upgrades.

Clinton announced the partnership Wednesday, joined by mayors of several of the cities, as part of an international climate summit he is hosting this week in New York City with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It is the second meeting of the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, which was created so mayors and local governments could share strategies for reversing the trends of climate change.

"It really is groundbreaking; it really is going to make a difference," Bloomberg said.

Retrofitted buildings could see a 20 to 50 per cent reduction in energy use, Clinton said.

Buildings are among a city's worst contributors to emissions totals, accounting for 50 per cent of energy use in newer cities and more than 70 per cent in older urban areas. In New York, for example, electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and steam consumed by buildings make up 79 per cent of the city's total count of heat-trapping gases, a recent study found.

Many cities have already taken steps to "green" their municipal buildings, but the foundation said less than one per cent of the potential market is being tapped in the United States and the efforts are less common elsewhere.

One city doing such work is Chicago. Retrofitting the lighting systems in city buildings there over the past six years has resulted in about $4 million in annual savings, said Sadhu Johnston, commissioner of the Chicago Department of the Environment.

The exact nature of the financing will be determined in coming months, the foundation said, and some details will likely differ from city to city. With the money from the banks, cities will get the green technology at no cost. The program assumes that cities already have money set aside for building operations and will pay back the bank loans, plus interest, through the energy savings that the projects achieve over several years.

To ensure those savings, Honeywell, Johnson Controls Inc., Siemens and Trane will conduct energy audits of the buildings, complete the makeovers and guarantee the energy savings. If the expected savings are not realized, those companies will pay the difference or make the changes in the buildings, the foundation said.

Warren Karlenzig, author of "How Green Is Your City?", applauded the plan and said many of these retrofits have been "crying out to happen."

"The technology is there; it's just that the financing has been missing," Karlenzig said.

The other cities taking part in the building plan are Mumbai, India; Karachi, Pakistan; Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; Melbourne, Australia; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Johannesburg, South Africa. The foundation expects the partnership to expand to more cities and companies after the first round.

© The Canadian Press 2007

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

A Radical Suggestion?

In 2003 the Canadian Medical Association put Canadian cities on notice that those which fail to ban smoking in indoor public places will be banned from seeking CMA’s convention business. Butt Out or Lose our business, CMA Tells Cities

In June 2004 the Canadian Nurses Association followed suit, requiring 100% smoke free indoor venues for host cities of future CNA events. (Annual Meeting Resolution 2004).

Both moves were sparked as an express commitment for these organizations to put their money where their mouth is – by supporting municipalities who support public health for all Canadians.

Resolutions by these agencies were somewhat controversial and radical at the time, but also ultimately transformational. Smoke-free cities are becoming mainstream practice across the country, with all Canadians able to breathe a little easier as a result of the efforts of CMA and CNA.

What were to happen if these agencies took similar action to broadly support green event cities? What kind of resolution might be formulated by medical associations seeking to meet in ‘healthy’ cities? What would be required? What would be optional? Some ideas…..
  • Municipal plans to ensure the maintenance and improvement of water and air quality.
  • Smoke-free public places.
  • “Get active” initiatives to encourage physical fitness.
  • Buy local and organic initiatives.
  • Accessible and convenient public transit.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

The Business Case for a Green Event Destination

Do event planners care if the cities they meet in are sustainable?

I believe that they do. The real question, however, is do planners care to the degree they are willing to integrate it into their process for selecting host cities?

I am hunting for evidence daily to answer this question.

Anecdotally, there is proof of environmental criteria slipping into destination selection for both events and conferences.
  • The United States Green Building Council has selected several cities – Portland, Pittsburgh and Denver –to host their 13,000 delegate Greenbuild Expo in consideration of the LEED-certified green building projects present in these communities.
  • Other organizations such as the Ecological Society of America, National Recycling Coalition, Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies and United Universalist Association of Congregations have developed and include environmental information in their requests for proposals. UUA states “The General Assembly Planning Committee seeks to plan our meeting in concert with our shared values of responsibility, inclusivity, and equality. We demonstrate our institutional commitment to these values by actively working toward making our meeting more environmentally sustainable, by practicing care and concern for the issues related to accessibility, and by acting consistently within our constituency.”
  • Government agencies, including the Government of Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency have standing policies and rules to support green purchasing of event and meeting services. Although this does not expressly require the selection of ‘green’ destinations, those destinations that can claim a diversity and depth of sustainable services are well positioned to earn business from the government sector.
  • Since 1994 Olympic bid cities have been evaluated on their ability to achieve the Three Pillars of the Olympic movement: sport, culture and environment.
  • The development of green event standards in the United Kingdom indicate a need and desire by event professionals to create market-based programs to affirm and assess their environmental practice.
Some statistical evidence is also emerging to support the business case for green event destinations:
  • 67% of planners indicate they take environmental considerations into account when planning a meeting or incentive program (IMEX, 2006)
  • 62% of planners think they or a colleague would avoid a destination or venue known to have a poor record of environmental issues (IMEX, 2006)
  • 60% of planners have selected a hotel for its known environmental program (IMEX, 2006)
  • 80% of planners feel the environment will become a bigger issue in the coming years (IMEX, 2006)
  • One in five Australians is considering abandoning travel due to its impact on global warming (
The reality is destination selection is a complex process. Issues as diverse as costs, accessibility, venue and room availability, natural and cultural attractions and local volunteer support for an event or meeting are all considerations that factor into the process, each with varying importance for each meeting host.

Numerous reports and studies support the observation that accessibility, cost and safety remain the most critical destination selection criteria for planners (Crouch & Louviere, 2004; Watkins Research Group, 2004; McKinley, 2006). However, evidence also exists that factors such as sustainability can help to tip the scales in favour of a particular city were other competitive destinations criteria are being met (McKinley, 2006).

So do planners care? Of course – they are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. I believe their personal values are such that they want to pass on an earth that is intact to future generations. Do they care to the degree they are willing to decide in favour of a city that aligns with these sustainable values? There is increasing evidence that they do.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Sustainable events? BSI invites organisers, venues and suppliers to trial new standard


Thursday, 3 May 2007

The British Standards Institution (BSI) today invited event organisers, venues and suppliers to trial the world’s first national standard in sustainable event management.

Designed to provide good practice requirements for planning and managing sustainable events of all sizes and types BS 8901 Sustainable events management system - Specification with guidance for use is now available as a Draft for Public Comment (DPC) prior to its publication in the autumn. During this final development stage BSI is inviting the events industry to test the standard by applying the draft to their own activities and by participating in pilots.

BS 8901 will encompass the complete range of events from large-scale business conferences and one-off events such as the 2012 Olympics, to music festivals, air shows and amateur fundraising events. BS 8901 will help the industry to publicly demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and will provide a route map that explains sustainability in event management as well as how to develop and benchmark this capability in organisations.

As Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards explained: “With an estimated worth of at least £3 billion, a predicted continued rise in costs, the challenges of climate change and a demand for social responsibility, there is increasing pressure on the event industry to demonstrate good practice in sustainability. Those that are first to use BS 8901 are likely to gain a healthy competitive advantage and those that trial it will help make sure that the standard becomes an invaluable addition to the event management toolkit.”

To download a copy of the draft visit To register interest in trialling the standard contact by Monday 4 June 2007.

- Ends -

For further information, please contact:

Jonathan Mason
Public Relations Officer
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8996 7248

Notes to Editors:

1. The Draft for Public Comment period of the new sustainable event management standard BS 8901 runs until 30 June 2007. This is a formal part of the development of a British Standard and preceeds the final publication but the invitation to participate in organised trails is unique to this standard. All comments will be reviewed by BSI and taken into account when publishing the standard in the autumn.
2. BSI British Standards is the UK’s National Standards Body, working with government, businesses and consumers to represent UK interests and facilitate the production of British, European and international standards to meet economic and social needs. For further information please go to
3. BS 8901 is the first sector specific specification to follow on from the generic sustainable management standard, BS 8900, that was published in June 2006. BS 8901 will assist those involved in event management to manage their environmental, financial and social risks and impacts spanning all aspects of event management including venue selection, supplier selection and partnerships, procurement, communications, employment, operating procedures linked to hosting the event, transport and ‘end of life’ issues linked to post event management (e.g. waste collection, recycling and re-use/disposal of materials).
4. The standard has been drafted for BSI by a team of consultants from Arup and the Events Industry Association (EIA) with input from representatives of a wide network of event industry companies including: ACE, Association of Festival Organisers, Bournemouth International Centre, DEFRA, Event Management Communication, Eventia, ExCeL, F2F Events, Faverhsam House Group, Grimaldi Forum Monaco, Harrogate International Centre, Health, Safety and Welfare at Events, IMEX, Interface Europe Ltd, ISS Facility Services Ltd, Leeds Metropolitan University, National Entertainments Agents Council, National Outdoor Events Association, NCB Exhibitions, NEC Group, Neil Stewart Associates, Nimlok Ltd, Olympia, Production Services Association (PSA), QMJ Publishing Ltd Reeds Carpeting Contractors, RTH Group, Silver Knight Exhibitions, The Big Green Gathering, The Event Services Association (TESA), The Royal Parks, UK Centre for Events Management, Wilde Ones (and NOEA)

Friday, 4 May 2007

Skepticism....and Hope

The USEPA’s recent announcement of acquision rules to give preference to conference facilities which consume less and manage their resources in environmentally responsible ways is good news.

With this new rule my hope is buoyed that perhaps the USEPA may resurrect their Green Meetings Initiative. For those new to green meetings, the USEPA exhibited much foresight through the work of Russell Clarke to create an online resource centre for Green Meetings early in the decade. Russ was a champion for the cause and successfully convened and coordinated many of the individuals and organizations conducting great work in the field of sustainable meetings.

Russ left the USEPA a few years ago, and with him much of the drive to maintain the green meetings movement within the EPA appeared to fade. Efforts by several of the EPA’s initiative partners to update the EPA’s online resource centre have not been responded to. The emergence of new organizations such as the Green Meetings Industry Council and initiatives such as the Convention Industry Councils Green Meetings Task Force and IMEX Awards have not been integrated into the site. In truth, drilling down through the site linked on this week’s press release reveals Russ’ name as the current contact at EPA about green meetings, despite the fact he left the EPA 3 years ago.

The EPA has set an expectation of environmentally responsible practice for their meeting venues. To prepare meeting suppliers to meet this demand there is a need to re-invigorate their green meetings initiative, or at a minimum update their resource centre. Major meeting industry trade publications are clamoring for research and case studies to support green meetings. There is an increasing demand for educational resources from both meeting planners and suppliers. The EPA has and can play a role in transforming the meetings industry from brown to green by engaging not only as a consumer, but educator, researcher and policy maker.

Don’t get me wrong, the USEPA’s new rule is a critical step in catalyzing market transformation to support greener conferences. However providing suppliers with up to date information and resources to help prepare them to respond to this demand by developing environmentally credible initiatives is equally important.

EPA Gives Green Meaning to Its Meetings

Release date: 05/02/2007

Contact Information: (Media only) Dale Kemery, (202) 564-4355 / (Other inquiries) Tiffany Schermerhorn, (202) 564-9902 /

(Washington, D.C. - May 2, 2007) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is erecting a new milestone in the march toward a greener government. Now the agency plans to turn its meetings green. EPA is changing its acquisition rules to give preference to facilities which consume less and manage their resources in environmentally positive ways. The rule change was effective May 1.

For the first time, EPA will consider environmental achievement along with such factors as price and past performance when buying meeting and conference space. The new regulation is a step toward giving priority to hotels and conference centers that demonstrate green progress.

"As our nation shifts to a 'green culture,' EPA is making environmental responsibility a common business practice," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By promoting green meetings, EPA is helping our partners in government see the environmental and financial benefits of going green."

The program is unique within the federal government, which spends $14 billion a year on travel. Much of that figure pays for hotel and other meeting spaces. EPA alone spends about $50 million on travel annually. The EPA program is seen as a template that eventually may be emulated government wide.

When considering meeting space, EPA intends to evaluate the responses to a 14-point checklist, asking whether a facility has:
  • A recycling program
  • A linen/towel reuse option that is communicated to guests
  • Easy access to public transportation or shuttle services
  • A policy to turn off lighting and air conditioning when rooms are not in use
  • Bulk dispensers or reusable containers for beverages, food and condiments
  • Reusable serving utensils, napkins and tablecloths when food and beverages are served
  • An energy efficiency program
  • A water-conservation program
  • Paperless check-in & check-out for guests
  • Use of recycled or recyclable products
  • Employee training on these green activities
  • Other "green" environmental initiatives such as receiving environment-related certifications, participating in EPA voluntary partnerships, supporting a green suppliers network, etc.
  • Food sources from local growers or a policy to consider the growing practices of farmers who provide the food
  • A policy to use biobased or biodegradable products, including biobased cafeteriaware

EPA anticipates that its Green Meetings Program will have a positive impact on the meeting and hospitality industry. Experience has shown that the cost to many facilities in green upgrades is more than offset by long-term savings.

For further information on EPA Green Meetings or to review the acquisition rule please visit the USEPA online.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

The Carbon Bandaid

Vancouver – Portland: 807km / 0.237t CO2

Vancouver – Newark: 7809km / 1.759t CO2

Vancouver – Frankfurt: 16145km / 3.713t CO2

Vancouver – Pittsburgh: 6992km / 1.583t CO2

Total: 31753km / 7.292t CO2

So it is only 4 months into 2007 and already I have clocked 31,753km in air travel and produced well above my allotment of carbon emissions for a year: 7.3 tonnes.

How depressing.

I am faced with a challenge of how to spread the word about green meetings and event destinations while recognizing that the travel burden associated with the work I do borders on the irresponsible.

So, Plan A for the coming year is to work to reduce my emissions in all aspects of living and working, and sincerely evaluate the necessity of my travel when opportunities arise to do it.

Plan B is to offset the emissions associated with my travel when it is unavoidable.

My purpose in sharing this is because I see I am in danger of using carbon offsetting as a ‘guilt tax’: something I pay to compensate for my contribution to climate change, while I avoid addressing the real problem. The problem being that I am contributing to global warming at a rate far exceeding what is reasonable.

Destination marketers face a similar problem given the high degree of travel involved in the work that they do. Destinations are beginning to adopt carbon offsetting as a way to mitigate the climate impact of their travel. This is an important and necessary strategy to promote improved sustainability, but does not eliminate the need to address how emissions can be reduced.

With this in mind, some ideas about how destinations can reduce their carbon footprint:
  • Consider ways in which staff may be encouraged to use pubic transit, or greener forms of transportation, such as car-pooling or biking.
  • Promote the use of public transit and biking to visitors, and communicate ways in which your destination is ‘walkable’.
  • When replacing or purchasing new office equipment select models that are EnergyStar certified and have energy conserving features.
  • Practice ‘lights out & equipment off’ when you leave the office.
  • Contact your power utility to see if there are options for you to purchase green power.
  • When purchasing incentive gifts, supplies and food and beverage try to give preference to local options, which require less transportation to deliver to you.

When all efforts have been made to reduce emissions, then consider offsetting those that are not avoidable. Organisations that can help you do this include:
When selecting a partner organisation be sure to ask questions about:
  • how they collect and calculate emissions.
  • what projects are supported by offsetting funds and where these projects are located.
  • what percentage of funds are used to support climate projects and what percentage is taken for administration.

If you are interested in identifying ways in which you can reduce your individual emissions and the energy savings associated with them visit As an above average producer of emissions I’ve registered and committed to a reduction of 3.26 tonnes in the coming year, amounting to an estimated energy savings of $290. For those emissions that are unavoidable I have commited to offset my trips through Trees Canada.

Want to see the carbon footprint of your flight? Visit MyClimate.

For further thought Adam Ma’anit writes:
Climate change is an issue we shouldn’t be ‘neutral’ on. Carbon offsets are at best a distraction and at worst a grandiose carbon laundering scheme. We need to grab hold of our responsibility for climate change and take action now. There is absolutely nothing wrong with funding renewables and even some well-designed and appropriate tree-planting projects. Just don’t equate them with a ‘license to pollute’. A ‘carbon positive’ agenda sees through the offset industry’s gambit and relies on a more fundamental commitment to solving climate change.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Hydrogen fleet World's First for Whistler

Convenient, accessible, affordable and clean public transit is a component of a sustainable event destination. This week the province of British Columbia announced Whistler, Canada as the home of the world's first fleet of hydrogen fuel cell powered buses, to be in operation in time for the Olympic Winter Games in 2010.

Hydrogen bus fleet to debut in Whistler
B.C. government announces $45-million for fuel-cell-powered vehicles, expected to hit the road by 2009


From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

May 1, 2007 at 2:50 AM EDT

VANCOUVER — Forget those noisy, diesel-belching dinosaurs you might think of as the standard for public transit.

By 2009 in Whistler, you should be able to hop on a whisper-quiet hydrogen-powered bus that leaves nothing in its wake but water vapour.

The mountain city, a host venue with Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympic games, has been chosen as home base for a fuel-cell powered bus fleet that's expected to showcase hydrogen technology — including, potentially, B.C.-designed systems — to a global audience.

“Our goal is to see the world's first fleet of fuel-cell buses on B.C. roads by the end of 2009 to showcase B.C.'s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the potential of hydrogen technology as an energy solution,” B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said Monday.

Speaking at a hydrogen and fuel-cell conference in Vancouver, Mr. Campbell also announced the latest infusion of $45-million in funding for the bus program, which is being paid for through an $89-million federal-provincial partnership.

Small numbers of fuel-cell- powered buses have been used in demonstration projects in cities in Europe and the United States over the past decade.

But the Whistler project, which is forecast to have 20 of the city's 30 or so buses running on hydrogen power, will be the largest fuel-cell-powered fleet in the world and the first project to make such vehicles the backbone of a public transit system.

The buses were one of numerous green initiatives outlined in February's Throne Speech, which committed the province to slashing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 33 per cent from current levels by 2020.

Transportation accounts for about 40 per cent of B.C.'s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The size of the fleet is expected to help generate valuable information on technology that remains “pre-commercial,” Ron Harmer, vice-president of B.C. Transit, said.

The Crown corporation handles public transit throughout the province except in Greater Vancouver and will be running the Whistler fleet.

“Part of the objective of the program was to keep the buses together, to gain some experience around issues of operating and fuelling them,” Mr. Harmer said.

A March report on California's Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District's fuel-cell bus program found that the three fuel-cell powered transit buses in the project had an average fuel economy of 56 per cent higher than the fleet's standard diesel buses.

A fuel cell is an “electrochemical device” that combines hydrogen fuel with oxygen to produce electrical energy. The only byproducts are heat and water. Manufacturers are working on numerous vehicle applications, including fuel-cell hybrids. Common concerns about the technology are cost and safety issues around hydrogen fuel storage and handling.

The March report for Alameda-Contra Costa Transit found there had been no safety incidents since the buses were deployed in 2000. But several minor operating issues cropped up: fuel-cell buses were “significantly taller” than the diesel fleet, resulting in more need for tree trimming. In addition, because there was no audible signal that the fuel-cell system was turned on, drivers would sometimes run the buses without turning it on, draining onboard batteries and causing the buses to stall. That has been addressed with a software change that automatically starts the fuel-cell power system when the battery pack is low.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Virtual Green Meetings Marketplace Launched

Finding environmentally and socially responsible tourism businesses just got a little easier for meeting and incentive professionals with the launch of a “one stop shop” virtual marketplace for green meetings.

Thanks to the hard work of Karen Hay and Green Global Village the first online Green Meetings Directory has recently been launched, enabling meeting professionals to more easily seek out suppliers of green meetings products and services.

Meeting suppliers – including green event destinations – can register on the site for free and receive a basic listing of their environmentally and socially responsible products and services. Meeting planners can browse for suppliers by country, category or certification scheme.

Partners in the Green Meetings Directory include Green Global Village, IMEX, the Green Meeting Industry Council, the MCI Group and eTurboNews.