Social Responsibility at Annual
Creating a Sustainable 2013 ASAE Annual Meeting
2013 is the sixth year that ASAE has integrated social responsibility into every level of our meetings and events management. These efforts — which range from as major as the site selection to as minor as opting out of pre-poured water at a board dinner — demonstrate that we take our commitment to operate sustainably seriously. In fact, our recognition of the need for ASAE and the wider association community to help lead and grow the green meeting movement is one reason why we signed the Global Principles for Socially Responsible Associations & Nonprofits, which includes sustainable event planning in its framework.
Our green meeting strategy aims to lighten our environmental impact and give back to the host community in meaningful ways, while simultaneously providing outstanding service and experiences to our attendees. We also hope to build awareness about what we as individuals and organizations can do to contribute to society through experiences and learning that strengthen ourselves and the entire sector.
The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, our 13 host hotels, and our vendors and exhibitors all have been critical partners in our sustainability efforts but you as an attendee also can make a difference to the planet during your trip.
Below are highlights of the actions we're taking with these partners to live our sustainability commitment and to provide a stellar meeting experience for you. We'll be updating this information regularly, so check back often to monitor our progress and feel free to share your suggestions by e-mailing Amy Ledoux, firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the Global Principles for green meeting planners, visit the ASAE Convene Green Alliance, visit www.asaecenter.org/srprinciples or contact Kristin Clarke at email@example.com.
Our 2013 Legacy Projects: Giving Back to Address Local Needs
Volunteerism — especially at association meetings — has risen dramatically in the past four years across America and is often one of the highest-ranking activities cited by attendees. In 2013, ASAE continues its tradition of engaging attendees in "Community Connection" projects designed to give back to our host city and its citizens in need.
At this time we are still working closely with the Atlanta CVB and others to identify charities that were in need. Last year we held two hands-on events — sorting food and packing them in boxes for the North Texas Food Bank clientele. We also held our popular 5K and behind-the-scenes tours in which all registration money was donated to that charity. In total we gave more than $60,000 in cash to the food bank, along with packing tens of thousands of pounds of food needed by the hungry children of Dallas.
One thing we do already know is that you all like to run — a lot! We expect our popular 5K charity fun run to again attract more than 150 people, so sign up early and ensure your spot. Registration fees all go to this year's conference charity. Watch for details soon and start stretching!
Stay tuned for specifics about how you can give back (and participants report "getting back," too) during your visit to Atlanta. We hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity to go beyond the usual education session discussions and engage in meaningful, side-by-side service and camaraderie that will have a positive impact on those around you.
A Journey of Learning
Sustainability can be a major business driver if aligned with core values and competencies and well-integrated at all levels. That requires active learning, as well as serious conversations, experiments, monitoring, and evaluations.
ASAE wants to help by offering education sessions and speakers who will demonstrate the role sustainability plays in smart business strategies. Check the program for programs on ethics, a behind-the-scenes "Green Safari for Meeting Professionals," and more.
You also can find plenty of sustainability resources, cases, tools, and news at www.asaecenter.org/socialresponsibility if you just can't wait. Swing by the Connection Central Lounge to share your thoughts and needs in this regard with ASAE staff.
A Lighter Footprint
Travel to a meeting means generating more greenhouse gases, whether from flying, driving, or taking the train. ASAE encourages attendees to participate in the various airline greening programs that these companies have set up to offset your carbon footprint.
- Delta's Force for Global Good
- American Airlines FuelSmart policy (customers are not able to participate in this program directly.)
- United Airlines Sustainability Fund
- Southwest Airlines Environmental Initiatives
- US Airways Green Report
- AirTran and the Captain Planet Foundation
- JetBlue's Jetting to Green
Once onsite, many of the 13 host hotels are within a short walking distance of the convention center. The others are sites for our "green shuttle" service, which operates in as fuel-efficient and eco-friendly a way as possible. Our transportation firm is designing the most efficient transportation system possible with the fewest number of motor coaches traveling the least distances possible to meet our — and your — transportation needs.
We encourage you to ride this bus system to reduce our carbon footprint and create an effective "car pool" that replaces the need for pollution-generating private vehicles such as taxis and cars. A single motor coach can remove the use of 55 cars from the highway, thus reducing traffic congestion around our events and excessive idling and carbon dioxide emissions. Note, too, that GWCC is located at the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center MARTA transit station, one stop west of Five Points station on the Blue/Green rail line. The Blue/Green and Red/Yellow lines intersect at Five Points. A great option from the airport to downtown, MARTA is an X-shaped system across the Atlanta metro area, with one arm running north-south and the other running east-west. As a visitor, you most likely would use the North/South and Northeast/South lines since they cover the airport, Midtown, Downtown, Buckhead, Perimeter Center, and the Brookhaven area. Plenty of MARTA buses can take you outside of those areas. Consider a MARTA Visitor Pass if you plan to stay more than a few days or want to sightsee beyond the city.
Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions—Offset!
As part of our commitment to sustainability, ASAE will continue to partner with American Forests for the second year to plant a tree in Georgia for every 2013 Annual Meeting & Exposition participant. Once mature, these trees will absorb more than 50,000 pounds of air pollution per year, provide enough oxygen for 2,500 people, and help make our event carbon neutral by removing 2,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. American Forests, the oldest national conservation organization in the U.S., has planted more than 40 million trees since 1990 in forest restoration projects in all 50 states and 38 countries.
Studies show that people (even those normally practicing environmental conservation in their daily habits) tend to get sloppy in their habits on business trips and create more waste, use more energy, and take fewer eco-friendly actions than at home. Please don't be one of those people! The host hotels chosen for you all have sustainability programs underway, and we encourage you to participate in any way possible. These individual actions include reusing your linen, turning off hotel lights and televisions when you leave, walking or taking shuttle service to the convention center, and recycling any newspapers and bottles. Please consider bringing your own reusable bottle and mug as well! You can shop among the host hotels for the green elements most important to your own values and practices by going to www.asaeannualmeeting/greenhotels.cfm to read more about what each of the 13 Atlanta hotels is doing with regard to sustainability.
- Atlanta Marriott Downtown:
- Atlanta Marriott Marquis:
- Courtyard Marriott Atlanta Downtown:
- Embassy Suites Atlanta – At Centennial Park:
- Hampton Inn & Suites Atlanta Downtown:
- Hilton Atlanta:
- Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Downtown:
- Hyatt Place Atlanta Downtown:
- Omni Hotel at CNN Center:
- The Ritz Carlton
- Sheraton Atlanta Hotel:
- W Downtown Atlanta Hotel:
- Westin Peachtree Plaza:
Printing and Production Techniques
We — and-you — have come a long way on the paper usage front! ASAE used to print almost 30,000 Annual Meeting brochures; now it's less than one third of that. We also use the database Clementine, a predictive modeling database, to determine the likelihood of someone participating in the Annual Meeting based on past history. Then we take the various groups from this model and market to them differently in lieu of sending a brochure. Effective, efficient, and eco-friendly — just the way smart sustainability tactics are supposed to be!
For the sixth consecutive year, you can choose whether you want to receive a printed or virtual meeting brochure. In 2009, 1,600 attendees requested a virtual-only brochure, significantly decreasing our paper print run, saving $68,000 and myriad natural resources, and allowing us to keep content updated for you more easily. The virtual brochure also features imbedded videos and multimedia, which provides a richer, more interactive experience for you and other attendees. In addition, as in past years, all session handouts will be Web-accessible to diminish paper usage and help you organize the tremendous amount of knowledge being shared. For convenience, we again are offering wireless Internet connection onsite.
That said, all of the printers we use onsite are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a nonprofit third party that determines responsible, sustainable forest growth and harvesting. Nearly 90% of our printed materials are printed on paper that is 50% recycled and 30% post-consumer waste. All ink is soy- or vegetable-based, and we aim to use reduced-chemical digital toner devices.
Eco-innovative Meeting Materials and Badges
We are still working to finalize conference tote bags, but they will be eco-friendly on multiple fronts.
Badge holders, badge stock, clips, lanyards, and ribbons are ALL eco-friendly, thanks to business partner Kleertech. "Even if the badge holders, lanyard links, or clips are sent to a landfill, they are completely anaerobic or aerobically disintegrate in as few as five years without leaving behind any toxic residue whatsoever," according to our partner Kleertech.
Ribbons are biodegradable within five years because they are made of cellulose fiber (wood). BIO-D badge holders are "made from clear 100% virgin PVC film that has been treated with proprietary pro-degradant additive. This allows the product to meet the highest standards of biodegradation (ASTM D5210 & D5511) as verified by independent, third-party, ASTM-certified laboratories." All holder attachments are made from 100% virgin polypropylene that is treated with Kleertech's proprietary pro-degradant additive.
In addition, the lanyards we are using via Kleertech are made of 100% recycled-content PET. Thanks to our partner eShow, you'll again have the option of proofing your name badge prior to the meeting (a popular service last year). This practice reduces paper waste and harmful transportation-related impacts. New this year is that ASAE will not be mailing badges in advance which will cut down significantly on badge stock usage and mailing supplies. ASAE tested this approach with our Technology Conference & Expo in December 2012, and it was a success, so we will continue to improve our greening efforts with our other major meetings.
To reduce paper used for maps, ASAE is again encouraging you to download the free meeting application for your mobile phone. Go here for easy access to this tool, featuring a full schedule, a tradeshow map, exhibitors listings and information, and much more.
ASAE staff also will be reducing paper usage as much as possible onsite, using Energy Star-certified computers, and adopting other "green office" practices for staff and speaker rooms at the convention center.
In addition, our longtime show producer and partner, Hargrove, has an extensive sustainability strategy in place that it demonstrates in its activities at the Annual Meeting. Its "industry-leading commitment to eco-friendly materials and operations" includes using 100% recyclable and biodegradable signage and substrates as a standard offering with no premium charges.
Finally, you'll recognize most of our session signs — you saw them in San Diego, Toronto, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and now Atlanta! These reusable, reconfigurable signs keep us from adding to crowded landfills and saves us (and thus, you!) money. Even the large structures in Connection Central are being used for a fourth year and are being repurposed for other meetings through the end of this year.
Meals, Munchies, & Drinks
Atlanta is one hot spot — for food, that is! Great locally sourced, summer-ripe, and healthy (hey, not everything is fried!) southern cooking can be found on nearly every corner in this lively city. We're putting together a range of sustainable, seasonal menu options for you, and we encourage you to venture out to the numerous award-winning local restaurants that embrace sustainable cuisine as well.
While at the convention center, all attendees will be using biodegradable and/or compostable dining utensils made from a range of natural ingredients, including sugarcane pulp, bamboo pulp, palm fiber, wheat and rice chaff, savanna grass, and cornstarch. The facility also donates excess food to local food pantries.
The conference will offer bottled water in recyclable plastic bottles, but there will be plenty of recycling bins around the convention center and wherever water is being distributed, so please do your part and toss your plastic bottle into one of the many clearly marked recycling bins around the convention area. Better yet, bring your own reusable bottle and mug! You'll find water fountains throughout the convention facility.
In addition to daytime dining, all of our major social events are being developed with social responsibility in mind. Please help us by taking advantage of the green shuttle service or walking, eat sustainably, recycling your beverage containers, and enjoying the wonderful opportunities to network, learn, and have fun together with as minimal harm to the environment as possible.
For the 2013 conference, we looked hard at numerous RFPs before choosing a site with an active sustainability strategy that ensures we can hold a meeting sensitive to environmental and social concerns. The Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), which is in the process of working toward coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, is well-equipped to help us do so.
In 2012, for instance, the GWCC replaced lighting in all 12 exhibit halls with more efficient fixtures and lighting controls and motion sensor in offices and storage rooms — a program that cut electrical use by more than 6% in one year. The facility's International Plaza on top of the seven-story Red Parking Deck is the sixth largest "green roof" in the world, and its waste management strategy achieved a more than 32 percent diversion rate through aggressive single-stream recycling, composting (272 tons), a grease-into-biofuel program (diverting 6.6 tons), and food donations of almost 170 tons.
The newly renovated restrooms now include water-conserving faucets and toilets, while all meeting rooms have a spring-water cooler with compostable cups.
And good news: You'll even feel perky mid-afternoon, thanks to tasty, healthy snacks and high quality air around you. The facility helps ensure peak learning alertness by using eco-friendly cleaning products and equipment that avoid fumes, a low-idling policy and dedicated front entrance for drop-offs to prevent exhaust from entering the building, carbon dioxide sensors that ensure proper balancing of air in each exhibit hall, low VOC-emitting (volatile organic chemicals) paints and adhesives, and a strict no-smoking policy.
It's not just the primary conference facility that has gone green, either. The entire city is working to become a top-10 most sustainable city in the United States, per its 2010 sustainability plan. Since that plan emerged, the city has been expanding public transit and neighborhood connectivity options, achieved its goal of a city fleet containing 15% alternative-fuel vehicles, improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions (its goal is a 25% cut by 2020), and improved water quality and conservation through better enforcement and system leakage attention. Its Greenspace program aims to provide at least 10 acres of green space per 1,000 residents, a goal helped by the likely attainment of a 30% recycling or reuse rate for 30% of the city's residential waste this year.
You may also notice the city's urban tree canopy, which the city hopes to grow to 40%, in part through a wisely planned park and landscaping system that supports sustainable development. And if you love to eat well, you'll appreciate the city's efforts to bring local food within 10 minutes of 75 percent of all residents by 2020, although you can easily find farm-to-table restaurants and food or beverage options citywide.
See You in Atlanta!
Although we have tried to examine each planning step, each buying decision, each vendor choice with sustainability in mind, we know that we're on a constant journey as new innovations and services become available and cost-effective. We are excited about what we have accomplished to date as we evolve into a more sustainable organization. Join us in these efforts! Our partners — and yours — have been indispensible in our efforts to reach our social responsibility goals. Thank you all! And visit us at www.asaecenter.org/socialresponsibility, or contact Kristin Clarke for more information on how you can help your organization build a successful, sustainable future.