As a planner, there are many ways to participate in the greening of your industry and contribute to the betterment of our environment. The number one, most positive thing you can do is to choose a venue that is as environmentally conscious as possible. Sounds easy? Well unfortunately, it is much harder than it sounds because, many hotels, conference and convention centres are talking the green talk, but how can you know if they really walk that green walk?
The Hospitality industry as a whole, is making great strides to “clean up” the way they do business however, a recycling bin out front does not necessarily mean that recycling is truly happening at that property. There is much more to being green and an environmentally responsible property. The clearest way to establish if the property is environmentally responsible is to ask for their green rating. Just like diamond ratings and star ratings, a property can qualify for a Green Key or a Green Leaf recognition and a green rating is becoming more important everyday.
There are two recognized rating organizations for green initiatives. The Audobon Green Leaf Program is an international association working with companies all over the world and the The Green Key program is our national program in Canada. The rating results are very similar, with one leaf or key for a minimum of committing to a set of environmental principles and then 2 through 5 leaf or keys for actual results in applying those principles. When searching for a property and reviewing their CAA/AAA Diamond rating, and their Canada Select Star rating, consider reviewing their Leaf or Key rating. Ask for it if you don’t see it listed and if a property is not rated, consider what that says about that company’s dedication or commitment to green initiatives.
Here are a few simple items you can jot down to look for and ask about when you are touring venues for your clients, besides their green rating:
- Do they reduce waste in conference rooms? For example, all meeting rooms generally have water supplied but look to see how it is supplied (i.e. is the water supplied from a reusable container instead of plastic bottles or if not possible, do they have tags for the bottles to indicate they are still in use to ensure that the bottles are not cleared at breaks?). Gone are the days of Styrofoam coffee cups!
- Did the hotel provide you with an electronic proposal? Do they use recycled paper for their documents? Do they offer online registration? Encourage presenters to use PowerPoint presentations and electronic handouts instead of hard copies
- Take a look at the grounds surrounding the hotel. Gardens should feature local vegetation and native plants and ask if they are chemical and pesticide free.
- In the guestrooms look for programs that promote linen and towel reuse. Do the bathrooms have low flow showerheads and low flush toilets to conserve water?
- In the meeting room or event room, do they offer power alternatives to offset the carbon footprint? Be aware of energy saving polices in the guest and meeting rooms (i.e. lights out when not occupied, a/c on low, high efficiency light bulbs)
- Ask if their menus are designed to centre around locally grown ingredients and produce.
Everyone is aware of our changing world and in an effort to reduce the impact on the environment; individuals and industries are putting plans in place and making changes in their daily lives to make a difference. Corporations will be looking for green suppliers in every aspect of business. In the hotel and meeting industry, it’s certainly not perfect and there is no property out there that gets it right everyday in every single way however, look for those properties that are making a genuine effort and you’ll do well for yourself, for your client and of course, for our world!