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10 Steps to a Green Meeting.
Wednesday, 10th August 2005
Source : Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Incentive, Workshop, Even a Wedding. At Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, hosting meetings that literally don't cost the earth means making it simple. 

According to Alyssa Maselli, a Fairmont San Francisco sales manager who secures groups like the Design Futures Council, "the environment is something we all have to talk about and fit into the bigger picture of event planning."  Start with Fairmont's "Eco-Meet" list of tips, tools and resources and it's easy being green.

1.       Planet Well - Set your green goals at the start.  Identify environmental issues that are significant to your organization or event location.  Determine the amount of effort you can invest and how you will communicate your objectives to all involved.  Use a checklist (available online from greenhotels.com, EPA.gov and many other sources) and get input from suppliers.  Incorporate environmental priorities in your contract.  Remember, it's ok to start small - there is always room to grow.

2.       Remember the 5 Rs - Reduce and Reuse - the best way to deal with waste is not to create it in the first place.  Make it simple and obvious: ask your venue to provide accessible, well-labeled bins and baskets for paper, aluminum cans and whatever else can be Recycled (glass, plastic, nametag holders).  Most importantly, Review all the components of your event, from accommodations and activities to transportation and waste management, then Rethink what's needed or how you can make it more earth-friendly.

NEXT STEP When making a final choice between venues, ask management if there is one further green accomplishment they will offer to obtain the business.  Fairmont Royal York Conference Service Manager Jennifer Brock notes that the hotel's affiliation with the new "Bag-a-Cork" recycling program, aimed at helping consumers and restaurateurs keep over 50,000 corks out of landfill this year alone, has already impressed planners.  "As one of Canada's largest hotels and wine purchasers, this practice shows we're not only concerned about the environment, but about all the small details of their event."

3.       Go Online - Cut paper use and mailing costs by creating an event website, offering electronic registration, confirmation and hotel reservations, and communicating via email.  Post presentation materials on-line or give out one CD instead of reams of paper.

NEXT STEP Ask hotels if they can post your agenda on the in-room TV system instead of on paper flyers.

4.       Green Room - At large conferences, designate an area for excess and gently used office supplies, as well as magazines and other paper products.  These can be donated to a local school or community center for craft projects.  

NEXT STEP Bring the concept back to your own office after the event.

5.       Eco-nomical Gifts - Consider giving away useful, re-usable items made from recycled materials.  Practical choices include reusable coffee mugs, organic cotton shopping totes or brightly colored luggage tags made from recycled vinyl.  Green gifts can also be fun, memorable and, yes, elegant (think organic chocolate, soy-based candles, a bowl made from a vinyl record or cuff links made from typewriter keys).  Many major promotional companies and "e-tailers" now stock great environmental choices.

6.       Breakthroughs - Start small by asking for minimized coffee break packaging and the use of reusable cups and napkins instead of disposables. Drink responsibly: beverage containers are the average meeting's largest waste producer. 
NEXT STEP Host a "Fresh Ideas" break that serves smoothies made with organic fruit, or fair trade    coffees and teas, like Fairmont's Ethical Tea Partnership certified blends.

7.       Local Flavor - Request menus planned using local, seasonal produce.  Pour regional wines and bottled waters.  Include vegetarian options or a meat-free meal - serve cheese and roasted vegetable lasagna at an Italian themed lunch and no one will miss the meat.

NEXT STEP Work with your caterer to ensure unused food is sent to a food bank, community meal program or composting facility.  In Montreal Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth donates unplated meals and baked goods daily to the Salvation Army and the Old Brewery Mission, while The Fairmont San Francisco collects the leftover partial bottles of water from meeting rooms for hotel plants.

8.       Get Outdoors - Whether it's a 15-minute fresh air break or an off-site event in a nearby park, encourage attendees to reconnect with nature.  At The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Resident Naturalist Bruce Bembridge and Resort Activities Manager Jay White routinely plan everything from "a guided early morning walk to team building activities like snowhut and rope bridge building."  Other Fairmont hotels keep things simpler but just as effective.  Planners headed to Vancouver can host a cocktail event in The Fairmont Waterfront's rooftop herb garden; The Fairmont Chicago encourages hoofing it with running route maps.

9.       Save Energy - Make sure power, lights and air conditioning are switched off when not in use.   Provide information about public transport.  Where available, remind your attendees about hotel linen reuse programs and in-room recycling.  All Fairmont Gold accommodations and many Fairmont hotels also offer nightlights in their rooms so that guests can sleep well without leaving the entryway or bathroom light on overnight.

10.   NEXT STEP Consider supporting carbon offset programs, like the U.S.-based Travel Cool or the U.K.'s Future Forests, funding projects like tree planting and wind power to counter the greenhouse gases produced by your flight or drive.  Online calculators make it easy.

11.   People Power - Don't forget to spread the word and encourage participation.  Tell your guests and speakers about your commitment to environmental success at every opportunity, from the invitation to press releases, daily "housekeeping" announcements and evaluations. 

THE FAIRMONT GREEN PARTNERSHIP

Pioneered by the company's Canadian properties in 1990, the award-winning Fairmont Green Partnership program is now growing across the United States and internationally.  This comprehensive initiative to minimize the impact of hotel operations on the environment addresses key issues including waste management, resource conservation, habitat protection, employee and guest education and community outreach.  Many Fairmont hotels now offer a full Eco-Meet green conference planning program including disposable-free service, Eco Adventure activities, themed meeting breaks and Sustainable Gourmet menus.



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