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This is a good time to examine a few of the noteworthy green happenings that we can look forward to in the coming year, including the adoption of the new APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standard and this year’s top 10 convention cities published by GreenBiz.com.

In 2008, the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) approached the Convention Industry Council (CIC) about partnering with its Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) to create and implement a set of standard practices for the meetings and conventions industry. APEX engaged ASTM International, the “globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards,” and collaborated with the GMIC, the U.S. EPA and a number of volunteers from North America and Europe to create these comprehensive, international standards.

According to the CIC, “The standards are composed of nine individual standards (sometimes referred to as “sectors”) addressing the scope of the meeting and event planning process. The nine sectors are Audio Visual, Accommodations, Communications, Destinations, Exhibits, Food & Beverage, Meeting Venue, On-Site Office and Transportation.”

The standards were completed in 2013, and are now one of the focuses of this year’s GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference. The conference will be taking place Apr.15-17 at Hilton Union Square in San Francisco.

Hilton properties are well known for their worldwide sustainability standards, making them a fitting venue for this year’s conference. The Union Square property has been aggressively green for more than 20 years, achieving 65 percent waste diversion in 2008. About 80 percent of food and beverage comes from organic and local sources. Several years ago, innovative hotel management installed a water-filtration system that also has carbonation. The goal was to eliminate bottled water completely. Now, guests receive free filtered water and pay a small fee for sparkling water, a part of which is donated to the Ocean Conservancy. Hilton Union Square is a leader in hosting green meetings, and is constantly working with guests, staff and other organizations to invent new sustainability practices.

Another item for green meeting planners to note is this year’s Top 10 U.S. cities for green meetings in 2014 published by GreenBiz.com in January 2014. The top three cities leading this year’s list are Denver, Las Vegas and Chicago.

Denver heads the list because the Colorado Convention Center was the first to earn APEX/ASTM Level One certification for a meetings facility. Two of its onsite vendors were also first to earn certifications – Image Audiovisuals for achieving the APEX standard for sustainable A/V, and Centerplate for Food & Beverage. Denver’s Convention and Visitors Bureau earned the APEX/ASTM certification for a destination.

Fabulous Las Vegas came in at No. 2 and is leveraging her reputation for reinvention to improve meeting facilities and raise sustainability standards for the industry at large. The Sands Expo and Congress Center at The Venetian and The Palazzo were first in the world to achieve its Level Two ASTM/APEX certification. Since 2011, the Center has pioneered sustainable event standards through its LEED certified facilities and Sands 360° Meetings Program.

Chicago came in at No. 3 and is no longer perceived as a dirty industrial city in the Midwest. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “I want Chicago to be the greenest city in the world, and I am committed to fostering opportunities for Chicagoans to make sustainability a part of their lives and their experience in the city.” True to Mayor Emanuel’s vision, the city earned the ASTM/APEX destination certification last year. The McCormick Place Convention Center is the largest to earn ASTM/APEX certification and has implemented a comprehensive, six-point environmental policy for the operation of the facility.

2014 brings with it the promise that the industry will continue to pioneer and embrace green standards.

Green Tip:
For GMIC Conference registration and APEX/ASTM standards information, visit gmicglobal.org.

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