the past six months, we certainly have turned up the heat on the topic
of “greening.” Our conferences, trade publications and service providers
are supplying better information on what we can do as facility managers
to help support various green initiatives.
So how will this article offer something different to
share that will spark us to make a difference? That is up to you to
think about what applies to your facility and what you need to do to
make “going green” a priority. We are all at different stages in
developing green initiatives at our facilities. Take a moment to assess
where you are currently and where you want to be in the future.
We had an assessment performed of our recycling and
waste reduction efforts at the Tampa Convention Center through a grant
from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. We received a
39 page report that outlined our overall deficiencies. We were provided
targeted recommendations on what was needed to start making a difference
in conserving, recycling and reducing waste. The deficiencies were
pointed and direct. We have significant work to do in a variety of
areas. Developing an action plan became our focus.
We started small with the things that we knew could be achieved with a
concentrated effort. The “green committee” was a small group that had a
passion for the concepts, but we did not have the goals, objectives and
procedures worked out to sustain momentum for the long haul. We needed a
well thought out promotional and educational campaign so that we could
generate the support needed internally. Better signage and targeted
promotions were needed for our guests to understand why this is
important and how each person contributing can make a difference.
We were already recycling cardboard, high grade office paper,
fluorescent bulbs and wooden pallets. The grant enabled us to purchase
nine beautiful fiberglass three compartment containers for bottles, cans
and mixed paper. Thirty rolling containers were also part of the grant
that provided greater flexibility on pick-up locations based upon event
The hardest part seems to be establishing a routine so
that the employees will know and honor the pick-up schedules. Supportive
follow-up by supervisors to be sure that the schedules are maintained
has been needed. We are also working with our food and beverage provider
to make sure that the portable bars are supplied with portable recycling
containers to capture all of the bottles and cans.
We are looking to each of our service providers to
develop comprehensive recycling programs that will complement what we
are doing. Show managers and decorators should find creative solutions
to recycling pallets, carpeting and a seemingly endless supply of
plastic sheeting to cover the exhibit hall floors. Our food and beverage
provider is now recycling their cooking oil, printer cartridges and
actively supporting our in-house efforts.
Green initiatives have to continue to be a passion for
the senior leadership of the facility in order to expand our recycling
efforts so that we can overcome the obstacles of multiple players with
different objectives and lack of buy-in by everyone using the facility.
We have an excellent program in place to successfully reuse event
related products. Our local school district has a Gift for Teaching
Program that we support with products that would be left behind or
thrown out by exhibitors and show managers. We encourage show management
to make a difference by providing left over conference bags, pens,
notebooks, promotional items and anything that may be able to be used by
teachers to reward students in the classroom. We ask the exhibitors to
place the brightly colored flyer on the side of their boxes and place
them in front of their booth at load-out. We pick them up and help to be
sure that they get sent directly to the school program.
Our food and beverage provider is actively involved
with providing leftover food to local food banks and other organizations
that support the homeless. At times the quantities of donations are so
extensive that coordination with multiple organizations is needed to
ensure that none of the food goes to waste. Thousands of meals and
supplies go to support these local charities each year.
It is imperative that we utilize the resources available through our
association to learn more about the opportunities to use sustain-able
products and processes. The Sustainability Task Force has a wide range
of industry professionals available to help us within their specialties.
We need to encourage our meeting planners to create sustainable events
that minimize the negative impacts on the environment from conception to
execution. Food and beverage providers should be making it a practice to
buy locally and work with eco-friendly suppliers that are committed to
protecting the environment.
There are fabulous options available now with biodegradable disposable
products for food and beverage services. Plates, hot and cold cups,
cutlery and related items are more readily available from biodegradable
resources such as sugar cane, vegetable starch and bamboo. If you don’t
already have these items from your food and beverage provider, numerous
providers and resources are available both inside and outside the United
States. The expense is not significantly higher and certainly worth
looking into for various applications.
Working with local utilities continues to offer one of
the best options for conserving our resources. If you haven’t already
requested a comprehensive energy and water conservation audit of your
facility, make the call. It will make a difference in your bottom line
in ways you can’t afford to pass up.
Call to Action
Take time to do your own research. Learn more from the indus¬try leaders
in San Diego, Portland, Orange County and Birmingham (United Kingdom)
and our IAAM Sustainability Task Force volunteers. Make it a priority
and do it today!
Rose, CFE, is the director of the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa,
Florida. Contact him at robert. firstname.lastname@example.org.