The Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) has reported the results of its greening efforts for the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Greenbuild International Conference & Expo (www.greenbuildexpo.org), recently held at the MTCC. Even for the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green buildings, the results were impressive, with a significantly reduced footprint achieved through an unprecedented 95 percent waste diversion rate, energy and water conservation and an ever-increasing commitment to greening through the education of MTCC employees.
The premier event featuring three days of extensive educational programming, workshops, a vast exhibition floor and ample networking events attracted over 23,000 attendees and 1,700 exhibit booths over three days in October 2011. While an event of this size can have a significant impact, both the organizers and the MTCC team were invested in minimizing the environmental impact of the conference. There was no opportunity too small to be considered. Working collaboratively over several months leading up to the show, the MTCC, along with its waste management contractor Turtle Island Recycling and the USGBC, set ambitious goals and put rigorous implementation plans into place.
“The MTCC is proud of contributing to a successful and sustainable Greenbuild,” said Vince Quattrociocchi, vice president operations of the MTCC. “As leaders in minimizing the environmental footprint of events, our collaboration with the USGBC encouraged us to go that last little step in waste reduction. The team is energized and excited about the sound practices we have in place, and the momentum we’re building in delivering greener meetings for all of our clients.”
A major focus on waste management saw the MTCC’s already high average diversion rate of 86 percent rise to an industry-inspiring height of 95 percent. This audited diversion rate surpassed the USGBC’s goal of 90 percent, as well as its highest historical diversion results. To achieve this extraordinary mark, waste streams were carefully scrutinized both on the show floor by Greenbuild volunteers and by Dock Monitors at the loading docks to ensure waste was properly sorted and placed in the right compactor. Two new MTCC waste reduction initiatives were also used during and after Greenbuild: A newly installed in-house composter broke down 8,021 pounds of food waste, and a high-tech carpet recycling system diverted 4,465 pounds of carpet from landfill. The process separates the nylon fibers from carpet scraps and discarded carpet pieces, then melts and reforms them as pellets that are reused to make new plastic materials.
Other initiatives included reviewing product sourcing and purchasing such as cleaning supplies to ensure they had the EcoLogo environmental certification, and biodegradable and compostable food service wares including cutlery, plates, cups, lids and napkins. Extensive training kept employees informed about new procedures and engaged in turning the vision into reality.
“We were pleased that Greenbuild met and exceeded its sustainability goals this year, and are grateful for the support of the MTCC, who were enthusiastic in the planning and delivery of the environmental plan,” said Kimberly Lewis, the USGBC’s vice president of conferences and events. “It is my hope that the strategies and initiatives employed at Greenbuild will continue for the MTCC for all of its conferences and events.”