In celebration of Earth Day today, The National Conference Center in Leesburg, VA, has released a series of 11 tips to help meeting planners make their events more sustainable.
"Because we're on such a beautiful 65-acre campus, we're reminded of the importance of protecting the environment daily," Geoff Lawson, vice president and general manager of The National Conference Center, said in a statement. "We are constantly adding to and retooling our environmental program."
To make your meetings "green," The National Conference Center recommends that you:
• Go paperless: "Meetings generate a lot of paper," the venue said. "Use paperless check in, send documents to meeting attendees electronically, and avoid handouts. If you do use handouts, be sure to use recycled paper and/or recycle leftover paper. Making USB drives available is an effective way to cut down on paper."
• Provide electronic brochures and an informative website for your meeting: "This will eliminate the need to mail or hand out costly brochures and will also cut down on paper," The National Conference Center explained.
• Monitor transportation: "Encourage employees to carpool if they're driving to a meeting site and use shuttles to get to and from the airport and arrange flights and pick up times to minimum shuttle use," the facility suggested. "Use smaller buses or vans if your group is small and try to use buses with bio-diesel fuel whenever possible."
• Make sure rooms have motion sensors: "The smart sensors can tell when someone is not in the room and shut off air conditioning or heat," The National Conference Center said. "It means the room may be a little warm or cool upon the guests return but it's a huge energy savings."
• Encourage employees to reuse towels and sheets: "People don't typically wash their sheets and towels every day at home so why do this when you're away? It not only wastes energy, it also wastes water," the venue said.
• Make sure rooms use CFLs or LED lights: "Many hotels now have policies to use compact fluorescent and light emitting diode bulbs," The National Conference Center pointed out. "These reduce energy waste."
• Use pitchers and bulk water dispensers: "In lieu of bottled water, provide attendees with a reusable (BPA free) water bottle at the beginning of the meeting or training sessions and/or have water pitchers or bulk water dispensers available," the venue suggested.
• Ask if the facility uses sustainable dining products: "The National Conference Center sources many of its ingredients from area local farms and follows the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Program to ensure that seafood used is sustainable," The National Conference Center said.
• Minimize use of disposable products and use biodegradable items when necessary: "This includes coffee cups, stirrers, plastic food cups, and takeout containers," according to The National Conference Center.
• Use trays in the dining room: "Even small things such as using trays in the dining room can be a waste of resources," The National Conference Center explained. "Recently, The National Conference Center got rid of the use of trays in its dining room. This cuts down on water usage and energy, as trays require washing and drying."
• Recycle: "Make sure the meeting site you choose recycles and has recycle containers in meeting rooms," The National Conference Center concluded. "Check not only on what they do with trash but with leftover food as well. Green properties such as The National have active programs for trash and food recycling."
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