The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has joined the ranks of organizations that are rethinking the impact of their meetings on the environment. Starting May 1, the government agency changed the rules under which it decides which facilities to use for meetings; now, it will include environmental achievement along with such factors as price and past performance when evaluating hotel properties.

The agency has come up with a 14-point checklist for planners to use when choosing meeting space. Among them: a recycling program; linen/towel reuse option; policy to turn off lighting and air conditioning when rooms are not in use; energy-efficiency program; water-conservation program; paperless check-in and checkout for guests; and use of recycled or recyclable products.

The federal government spends $14 billion a year on travel, $50 million of which is spent by the EPA. EPA officials hope that its decision will eventually lead to a government-wide shift toward greener meetings.

For more information, visit the EPA’s green meeting Web pages.