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Sustainable Meetings the Focus of Chicago Event

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I will be attending the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) Sustainable Meetings Conference from April 7-10 in Chicago at McCormick Place. Be sure to watch for coverage of the annual event on the Green Lodging News website. I have enjoyed attending GMIC conferences in the past and this year’s event, like the others I have attended, is filled with educational and networking opportunities.

Interest in the greening of meetings continues to grow for several reasons: government, nonprofit and corporate mandates to seek out and stay at properties offering green meeting options; increasing interest in and certification to the nine APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meetings standards that define what a green meeting is; and a general increase in concern about climate change and travel’s impact on the environment.

If you host meetings at your property, you need to follow the progress of the nine APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meetings standards. Eight of the nine have been published. Only the “New Guide for Standard Practice for the Evaluation and Selection of Hotel and Meeting Accommodations related to meetings, events, conferences, conventions and trade shows” has yet to be published.

Green Meetings Certification

While the release of eight of the nine standards a little more than a year ago was significant, it is certification to the standards that many in our industry will be following in the coming months. In case you missed it, two months ago GMIC reached an agreement with iCompli, a division of BPA Worldwide, a global third-party assurance provider, to develop a certification program for the Sustainable Meetings standards. “Certification drives adoption of industry standards,” said Tamara Kennedy, executive director of the GMIC, in a press release announcing the agreement with iCompli.

Under terms of the agreement, GMIC will develop a registry of certified organizations and establish a practitioner group of industry experts to clarify certification issues and propose improvements to the standards. For its part, iCompli will develop certification protocols for each of the standards and all necessary forms and documents to support the certification process. In case you missed it, iCompli recently completed the first certifications under the ASTM Standards for the Colorado Convention Center, VISIT DENVER (the metro Denver convention and visitors bureau), and Image Audiovisuals. (See related article.)

Will meeting planners begin to make certification to one or more of the Sustainable Meetings standards a requirement for doing business? It may happen eventually but for now certification certainly can give a facility a competitive edge as it seeks out meetings business.

The Sustainable Meetings standards and certification will certainly be hot topics at the Chicago conference, along with subjects ranging from the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative to Sustainability Reporting to Turning Sustainability into Profitability.

Once again, watch for coverage on Green Lodging News.

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