NBTA Wraps Its First Green Convention

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) held its 2008 annual meeting in Los Angeles this week. And for the first time ever, that meeting, which NBTA calls "the largest business travel event in the world," was both environmentally friendly and socially responsible.

Based in Alexandria, Va., NBTA announced earlier this month that the 2008 NBTA International Convention & Exposition, held July 27 through July 30, would be "going green." Part of a policy implemented earlier this year, through which the organization pledged to minimize its impact on the environment, the greening of the NBTA annual meeting was an opportunity to leave a positive impression not only on the earth, but also on NBTA members and the larger corporate travel industry, the association suggested in a press release.

As part of its environmental efforts at this year's convention, NBTA pledged to:

Reduce paper: NBTA reduced the amount of registration handouts distributed at the meeting, as well as the number of people to which it distributed them. It also embraced a paperless format for handouts in its 40 educational breakout sessions; those handouts were distributed electronically to attendees, who could print them out selectively by choice at on-site printing stations.

Eliminate waste: NBTA traded in single-service water bottles for on-site water coolers; set up on-site recycling bins for paper, plastic and glass; and donated unused food from convention meal functions to local food banks as appropriate.

Use eco-friendly materials: NBTA printed convention materials on recycled paper using vegetable-based inks using a Forest Stewardship Council-certified printer; it then distributed those materials inside registration bags made of recycled materials. What's more, by locating its event at the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC)—the largest solar energy-generating convention center in the North America—NBTA saved both water and energy.

Offset its carbon footprint: In order to counter its environmental impact, NBTA recruited Carbonfund.org, which supports renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects in order to offset the impact of CO2 emissions worldwide.

In addition to its green efforts, NBTA has announced plans for a new Business Travel Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Awards Program. Expected to launch later this year, the program will distribute awards annually to corporate travel buyers and suppliers who demonstrate both social responsibility and environmental sustainability. A call for nominations will be issued in September 2008 and the first awards will be given out in the first quarter of 2009.

"NBTA has a longstanding commitment to serving the community through initiatives that are now known as CSR, or corporate social responsibility," NBTA President and CEO Kevin Maguire said in a statement. "Based on input from our members, we are now expanding our efforts to create an industry CSR awards program and to make NBTA's meetings eco-friendly."

For more information on NBTA's annual meeting or its new CSR awards program, visit www.nbta.org.