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.