Meeting Mentor Magazine

August 2014

APEX/ASTM Green Meeting Standards

Voluntary Standards, Set for Fall Release, Aim for Industry-wide Improvements and Consistency

After three years, the input of 300 volunteers, and its alliance with ASTM International, the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) Green Meetings and Events Practices Panel is nearing its conclusion. In the fall, the panel is expected to release best practices and voluntary standards that can be implemented to create a more sustainable meeting event.

“When APEX launched 10 years ago, sustainability and green meetings were not driving issues,” said Lawrence Leonard, CMP, APEX’s new director (left). “Today, this is a huge issue on everyone’s agenda.”

Indeed it is for Microsoft Corporation.

“We are anxious to have something that will not only provide some consistency in the industry, but also help continually improve our own sustainability efforts,” said Gina Broel, CMP, Senior Event Marketing Manager at Microsoft. The company has been incorporating sustainable practices into its large events since the beginning of 2008. “As organizations apply these [standards] to their own real-world events and scenarios, their experiences and feedback will continue to shape and evolve the standards moving forward,” she added.

The way the new APEX/ASTM standards are categorized and organized (hotel and meeting accommodations, destinations, exhibits, food and beverage, meeting venue, audiovisual equipment, transportation, communication supplies, on-site offices) is very similar to Microsoft’s approach. “Having consistent standards in place,” Broel noted, “will give planners and suppliers in the industry a baseline for their sustainable activities.”

Already, the elimination of individual plastic water bottles joined with the move toward using water coolers is the biggest single practice that has yielded Microsoft the greatest cost savings — $600,000 just in 2009 alone. The company has saved significant dollars by printing fewer materials for attendees, reusing signage for repeat events, and reducing the amount shipped on site. “And we’ve certainly seen results from recycling 290 tons of glass, paper, and other materials since we began putting our practices in place,” Broel explained. “It’s especially powerful when we can show both a positive environmental and economic benefit.”

To help meeting professionals prepare for the coming APEX/ASTM best practices, the Professional Convention Management Association hosted a recent webinar with speakers Sue Tinnish, Principal, SEAL Inc., and Amy Spatrisano, CMP, Principal, Meet Green. (Go to www.pcma.org for information on how to access the archived webinar.)

The standards are structured on levels so that planners can start with the basics and step up to greater amounts of reduction, reuse, and recycling. Among the documents will be a checklist that enables planners to quickly discern their organization’s sustainability level in a particular sector, along with the strategies, tactics, and resources they’ll need to meet the standards at different levels.

For more information, go to www.conventionindustry.org and www.greenmeetings.info. — Maxine Golding


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