Embracing a sustainable approach for your next event is not just a trend; it’s a decision that holds tremendous benefits for you, your clients, your attendees, and the planet.

Events often consume significant resources, generate waste, and contribute to carbon emissions. Embracing sustainability not only mitigates these negative impacts but also sets a positive example for attendees and the industry at large. For our client this past spring we identified three primary reasons to pursue a more sustainable event.

  • Mitigate Climate Impact: Events contribute to carbon emissions, but a commitment to sustainability can make a significant dent in this impact. You’re actively fighting climate change by reducing waste, choosing renewable energy sources, and minimizing transportation emissions.

  • Attendee Engagement: A sustainable event creates a meaningful and memorable experience for attendees. People increasingly value events that align with their values, fostering stronger connections, and leaving a lasting impression.

  • Positive Reputation: Choosing sustainable options showcases your commitment to responsible practices. This elevates your brand’s image and builds a positive reputation as an organization that cares about environmental and social well-being.

Sustainability in Action – A Use Case in Seattle

Starting with Venue Selection:

For our client, we began our planning by choosing the Seattle Convention Center and their new Summit Building as our venue. It was a no-brainer as it included several power-saving practices set in place, from automatic censored lights and escalators with power-saving modes to robust natural light in meeting spaces. As well as green banquet practices including a robust composting program, plastic-free single-use options, and linen by request only.

With an energy-efficient venue, there were many opportunities for sustainability, but there were a few complications that we weren’t expecting. Power-saving escalators are a great feature, however, we found out that they can quickly become a hindrance if they don’t ‘wake up’ on time! If you’re taking advantage of a composting program learn from us – education is key! Our attendees experienced confusion around the disposal stations on day one, so we quickly added more staff to help guide the process for the rest of the event.

Thinking About the Holistic Experience:

Looking beyond venue selection we worked with our client to take their efforts a step further by selecting a vegetarian menu and by utilizing digital signage and a conference app instead of printed materials. We also worked with a local scenic partner to design a living backdrop for registration and the main stage. Following the event, we partnered with a local group of teachers and donated the plants to their annual fundraiser.

If you are looking to take your event to the next level by implementing sustainable practices, I recommend the sustainability webinars from the Events Industry Council and the resources published by the Green Meeting Industry Council which can provide you with the knowledge and inspiration needed to lead the way toward a more sustainable event future.

Feeling the Benefits of Sustainability:

In my experience, incorporating sustainability into events can be easy! There are many green choices that can be made without sacrificing experience or increasing costs. Adopting a sustainable approach for your event is not only a responsible choice but a decision that yields far-reaching advantages. From venue selection to menu choices, digital solutions, and local collaborations, the journey toward sustainability is an opportunity for innovation and positive change. The benefits of sustainable event planning are evident, from mitigating climate impact to fostering attendee engagement and enhancing your organization’s reputation. As showcased in our recent event in Seattle, even with the occasional challenges, the rewards of utilizing an energy-efficient venue and implementing eco-friendly practices are substantial.

Written by Helen Hart, CMP – Senior Event Architect

Helen has worked around the globe producing events of all sizes. Her experience ranges from corporate conferences to VIP celebrations and her areas of expertise include production and stage management, event design, venue/vendor selection, logistical coordination and execution, and sponsor management and fulfillment. A consummate event professional, Helen has her CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) certification, based on her extensive professional experience, education, and rigorous exam. Helen uses problem-solving, creativity, and flexibility to help clients produce corporate events and meetings. She excels at logistics and operations, and her attention to detail means that her client’s event experiences go smoothly from concept to completion.