Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Holiday Wish #4: Bring me a Destination that....

Wish #4: Has comprehensive recycling and composting infrastructure.

I will admit, this list is rather biased, and with this wish in particular, perhaps just a tad self-serving. Truth is, I am - like many - inherently lazy. Another truth is my ability to be lazy in my job is impeded by lack of available recycling and composting infrastructure in the cities where I meet! :)

The ability for different cities to recycle and compost varies greatly. Different factors such as available infrastructure and local government regulation can support or discourage more responsible waste management. I encourage CVBs to share basic information about recycling infrastructure in their RFP responses. Tell me:

  • What materials your venues can recycle locally.
  • If venues can compost organic waste, including disposable serviceware.
  • What your average civic diversion rate from landfill is.
  • If your venue can track an event-specific waste stream.

CVBs should be aware that in some cities, waste management is a cost issue. It is not uncommon for cities to charge less to haul recyclables and organics than trash. The cost difference per ton may be a few dollars or a few hundred. It depends on the city. These costs are ultimately passed on to planners. Knowing your venues are able to divert a high amount of waste through recycling and composting can reduce land-filling costs.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Holiday Wish #3: Bring me a Destination that...

Wish #3: Has venues and hotels that act on sustainability and are able to measure it.

It is good to see venues and hotels coming into sustainability. The growth of green building certifications gives planners confidence construction of event sites integrates sustainability considerations. Still, I would encourage CVBs to communicate meaningful information about the actual performance of these facilities, especially from an operations perspective. Wondering what this means? Read on for some ideas...

On the hotel side, tell me how many of your rooms or what percentage of hotel properties provide 'green' guest rooms. Criteria to consider and communicate should include things like:
  • linen reuse
  • guest room recycling availability
  • water conserving fixtures
  • energy efficient lights/HVAC systems
  • environmentally and socially responsible purchasing practices
  • housekeeping practices that are mindful of water and energy conservation
  • accessible rooms
  • non-smoking rooms
  • allergy-sensitive rooms
And please, PLEASE, stay in a guest room! Verify that sustainable practices are actually implemented. Where practices are not followed inform your hotels so they can course correct to make sure they are. If there is one thing I can count on during an event is that at least once I will hear from someone that their towels were changed, even when they were hung up. Help us help hotels ensure that practices are consistently followed.

For venues it is great to know facilities may be LEED-certified, or Green Seal-rated, and I would like to know more specific outcomes from these programs. Volunteer information about waste management practices, energy and water conservation efforts and most importantly: how it relates to our event.
  • What amount of renewable energy can I expect to be sourced?
  • How many pounds of waste might we expect to be produced per attendee?
  • Or alternatively, what is the typical diversion rate from landfill and incineration?
  • Are venues able to donate conference materials and food? Can you track this?
  • What is the per-attendee energy and water use rate?
Knowing all of these can help a 'green' planner anticipate how much time she will need to allocate for sustainability planning. The more that is in place at venues and hotels the easier her life becomes! So CVBs: if you can provide this level of detail, please do! It just might tip the scales in your destination's favour!