Government Connections - Spring 2011 - (Page 21)
Going Green One RFP at a Time
By Charles Sadler, CGMP, CHSP, CHSC
JUST GETTING STARTED with
green meeting practices can seem daunting. But it’s not at all if you remember this: It’s just another aspect of planning. Look at it this way: You’re already going to choose a venue, order food and beverage and invite attendees. You may also select an exhibit decorator, transportation company and hotel accommodations. These may require a request for proposal (RFP), site inspection and most likely a contract. You do all those things daily. Now do the exact same things through the green “ﬁlter.” Add a few questions to the RFP about the venue’s environmental policies; ask the caterer for a sustainable menu; invite attendees electronically instead of on a printed document. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – just make sure it treads lightly. Start by understanding how greening events will fit into your agency’s goals to meet President Obama’s Executive Order on sustainability. EPA and GSA already provide standards for “green meetings” and standards that can be included in your RFP.
is the shift director driven or is it driven by new federal standards? Are there external influences impacting the agency’s image?
HOW MUCH IS THE AGENCY WILLING TO SPEND?
Will the agency make a financial commitment, if necessary, to support green event practices? Though many green practices produce cost savings, the decision to serve organic food, for example, may cost more. It is extremely helpful to know if the agency is willing to spend more resources if some of the green practices recommended cost more than traditional methods. Although it may be difficult to outline potential cost increases upfront, knowing approximately what the organization is willing to spend will save a lot of time and effort and it will focus the planning on appropriate practices. You can easily compose a budget of cost savings versus expenditures for green practices.
long-term commitment. If you are greening the current year’s event, but fail to do so in subsequent years, attendees will notice and hold you accountable. A green event sets an expectation, and attendees will likely be enthusiastic about future green efforts.
WHAT COMPONENTS OF THE EVENT MOST NEED TO BE GREEN?
The answer to this question will provide direction and focus on where to spend time and resources. Showing success in an area that is considered important – for whatever reason – may lead to greater support in the future. For example, is the primary goal to have recycling at the meeting venue? Is it to offer organic, local food and china service? Is it to reduce paper by not sending out a multipage brochure? Or perhaps providing a carbon offset program for attendees’ travel? These questions will get you started. As green meeting strategies are incorporated in subsequent events and as your knowledge increases, be open to exploring other questions. You’re the event professional; stakeholders will look to you for both ideas and direction. Once your organization has established the level of commitment to sustainable events, work to build on this by developing a green events strategy. It’s easier to get financial and management support if you develop a greening plan, as it will show how you will deploy environmentally friendly practices. You may find that the best way to engage the agency and attendees as well as your hotel or venue partner is to start with one or two new practices, then build on their success. Look for the Green Meeting Certification Program at the National Education Conference. G Charles Sadler is SGMP’s Executive Director & CEO and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHART THE COURSE
Here are some fundamental questions to ask when leading your agency through the goals and objectives for green meetings:
IS THIS A ONE-TIME EFFORT OR PART OF THE AGENCY’S CORE PRACTICES?
This question clarifies the agency’s longterm commitment and purpose for adopting green practices. You can build on any level of commitment. If the intention is to green all future events, the learning curve for the first one should make the next meeting even easier to green. If this is a one-time effort, you should caution the agency that green events are most successful when they represent a
WHY DOES THE AGENCY WANT TO INCORPORATE GREEN PRACTICES?
This question may seem self-explanatory, but ask it anyway. The answers received may be different than expected and will shape the approach you take. For example,
Add a few questions to the RFP about the venue’s environmental policies; ask the caterer for a sustainable menu; invite attendees electronically instead of on a printed document. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – just make sure it treads lightly.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Government Connections - Spring 2011
Government Connections - Spring 2011
Travel Tips and Trends
Good to Know
Dieting on a Per Diem
Who Will Fight For Government Meetings?
Why Do We Give?
SGMP Welcomes New Staff
Working with the Government
Be Here Now
Ethics and Pearls
The Meeting Minute
Government Connections - Spring 2011