Green meetings not only benefit the environment, they can help your budget. So says a new white paper developed by Meeting Strategies Worldwide, a Portland, Ore.–based meeting planning company.

The white paper, titled The Economy and the Environment: One Solution for Two Meeting and Event Industry Issues, finds that what makes the best financial sense is often the environmentally friendly choice as well. The paper outlines the advantages to green meetings, starting with cost savings. Here are some examples it offers for changes at meetings that can save money and reduce waste.

  • Reducing handouts for a 1,300-person conference over two days can save $2,000, 488 pounds of wood, and 79 pounds of solid waste from the landfill.
  • Reducing daily shuttles by 11 buses for a five-day, 40,000-attendee conference can save $60,000 and about 486,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.
  • A 150-room hotel that has a towel and sheet reuse program can save 6,000 gallons of water and 40 gallons of detergent per month.
  • Reusing 45 percent of banners for a 40,000-attendee, five-day conference can save about $89,000 and divert 12,750 square feet of vinyl banner material from the landfill.
  • A 1,300-room hotel that switches to fluorescent lights in rooms and lobby areas can save $51,000 in energy costs per year.

Another benefit of going green is the possibility of positive publicity. A recent conference in San Francisco promoted its green initiatives, and, as a result, 18 articles about its green practices were published within 30 days of the conference.

Green initiatives also create goodwill with attendees, the paper argues. More planners are finding that attendees appreciate the efforts to recycle and reduce waste. When times are tight, it could be the competitive advantage that leads attendees to decide to attend one conference over another.

The hospitality industry is second only to the construction industry in waste generated. According to data from the white paper, the average conference attendee, over the course of a three-day meeting, generates about 61 pounds of waste. However, over the same period at home, that person would average just 13 pounds of trash. Further, an attendee generates the amount of greenhouses gases in just three days at a meeting as he or she would by driving a car for a month at home.

To read more, download the white paper at Meeting Strategies Worldwide’s Web site.

For more articles from MeetingsNet on the challenges and opportunities of planning environmentally friendly meetings and events, visit our green meetings “one-stop.”