Energy Center of Wisconsin, Madison
Marge Anderson is everywhere — from the pages of The New York Times to speaking engagements across the country. Her vocal leadership on green initiatives stems from her position as associate director at the Energy Center of Wisconsin, an independent nonprofit that seeks solutions to energy challenges, where she leads by example, driving suppliers to adopt sustainable practices for her meetings and conferences. These results last long after her events have cleared out: Her team works cooperatively with every meeting site to encourage better energy and waste decisions, while also pointing suppliers toward specific help with things like technical assistance or carbon rebates. She even convinced power-guzzling Kalahari Resort and Conference Center, a facility with an indoor/outdoor waterpark, to install solar panels. For these efforts, combined with dedication to meeting outcomes and, the Energy Center was the recipient of a 2007 Global Paragon Award from Meeting Professionals International.
“The impact of [the meetings industry's] collective action is literally world-changing. Harnessing our energy and our ability to convene and motivate people could be more effective than any movie or ad campaign in shaping more sustainable environmental practices.”
— Marge Anderson
MCI Group, Geneva
With 34 offices around the world and 800 employees organizing more than 3,000 meetings each year, MCI Group can have a big impact on the www.lessconversationmoreaction.com.Shawna McKinley, Project Manager industry. It's a responsibility that the company now takes very seriously, thanks to the leadership of Guy Bigwood, the events management organization's group sustainability director. In 2005, Bigwood convinced the company to establish a corporate social responsibility program, which offers consulting services to clients and is working to shrink the footprint of the company's internal operations. In close consultation with Michael Luehrs, group sustainability services manager, the MCI team has created sustainable event management protocols and a supplier code of conduct, which informed the creation of the supplier engagement document endorsed by the Green Meeting Industry Council. Luehrs and Bigwood blog about and sustainability in the meetings industry at
MeetGreen, Portland, Ore.
Shawna McKinley is not afraid to get her hands dirty in the interest of making meetings eco-friendly — really dirty, in fact. She has been known to go dumpster-diving to rescue recyclables and to see what's headed into the waste stream, helping companies like Oracle and American Express reduce their meetings' environmental footprints. Her efforts have paid off. In one case, she boosted a facility's meager 10 percent recycling rate to a 76 percent waste-diversion rate. Currently a project manager with MeetGreen, a consultancy focused on integrating sustainable practices into conferences and events, McKinley has a résumé that hits all the high points in the emergingworld. She served as executive director of the Green Meeting Industry Council and managed the creation of the green meetings toolkit for the Oceans Blue Foundation. She is participating in the APEX Green Meetings Standards development process, has served on the Convention Industry Council's Green Meetings Task Force, and has helped to create the IMEX Green Meetings Award.
“Sustainable meetings are an ongoing process, not an end-goal. When you trust that people have good intentions, meet them where they're at, and encourage them forward, you get so much farther than shaming them into action.”
— Shawna McKinley
For the past seven years, Carina Bauer has been a driving force behind greening IMEX, the massive exhibition held annually in Frankfurt, Germany, for the incentive travel, meetings, and events industry. In that time, the organization, where she serves as marketing and operations director, developed the industry's only green meetings awards and launched a broad range of environmental initiatives, from a waste-reduction program that saved 34 tons of waste during the 2008 show — 20 percent more than in 2007 — to encouraging attendees to take trains instead of planes. Last year, IMEX became the first event in its sector to use hydroelectric power for the show and handed out 21,000 fully recyclable and compostable plastic visitor badges. Initiatives for 2009 include lanyards made from organic plant “silk” from waste grain fibers, bio-diesel courtesy buses, reuse of surplus food through local farms, and sustainably sourced materials for bags and printed items.Terri Breining, CMP, CMM, President and CEO, Concepts Worldwide Inc., Carlsbad, Calif.
Defining a “green meeting” for the APEX Green Meetings and Events Practice Panel, complete with steps, checklists, guidelines, and a certification process, is the Herculean task undertaken by Terri Breining, president and CEO at Concepts Worldwide, and Sue Tinnish, former interim APEX director and principal at SEAL Inc. Breining, who serves as chairwoman of the APEX commission, and Tinnish, who is acting as liaison with experts from ASTM International to develop an accredited green meetings standard, (along with Amy Spatrisano, opposite page), are coordinating nine committees and an army of volunteers who pla to release accepted practices and measurable guidelines by the end of the year. To meet that deadline, both have found themselves sorting through mountains of input from all sectors, as the number of planners tasked with making their events sustainable continues to grow.
“It's a sign of respect to the people attending the meeting, as well as the other stakeholders within an organization, to produce meetings that not only achieve the goals of the organization, but that integrate practices that generate less waste.”
— Terri Breining
MeetGreen, Portland, Ore.
Nancy Wilson is living proof that when you do what you love, success will follow. Having founded meeting planning consulting group Meeting Strategies Worldwide, now known as MeetGreen, back in 1994, she has always been passionate about environmental responsibility, and that passion has become the core of her company's business. MeetGreen is now internationally known for helping companies employ sustainable practices at their meetings, with consulting credits that include the Sierra Club, American Express, and even the Live Earth Concert Series. That passion — along with a pioneering spirit — also led her to co-found the Green Meeting Industry Council, giving planners who were just awakening to the idea of sustainability access to resources, education, and networking opportunities solely focused on sustainable meetings. At the time, little other information was available, but the industry is finally catching up, and Wilson is in demand as a consultant, expert, and speaker.Tamara Kennedy-Hill, Executive Director
Green Meeting Industry Council
Tamara Kennedy-Hill has learned quickly that “green” is a global language. The Green Meeting Industry Council, where she has served as executive director for the past year, has grown more than 230 percent and spread to 16 countries under her watch, sending Kennedy-Hill to speak at industry events where she may not be versed in the native tongue, but where everyone is nonetheless on the same page. No stranger to sustainable meetings prior to joining GMIC, she had co-founded the Green Team at Travel Portland as a convention sales manager focused on the green market. Kennedy-Hill is also working with the APEX Green Meetings and Events Practice Panel, and she oversaw the launch of GMIC's Green Meetings Portal, gathering news and ideas about sustainability from meetings and conferences internationally. The organization recently introduced the Million Tons of Trash initiative, encouraging the industry to reduce waste by one million tons by the end of the year.
“Green meetings are a strategic way of evaluating a meeting's performance. In order for a meeting to be considered ‘green,' it must have clear process objectives as well as environmental metrics, and at the same time be tied back to an organization's business goals.”
— Tamara Kennedy-Hill
MeetGreen, Portland, Ore.
One wonders if Amy Spatrisano ever sleeps. If she does, she must dream in green. As principal with MeetGreen, she has inspired international organizations like MCI Group to build sustainable business and meetings plans, and co-founded the Green Meeting Industry Council. She now serves as its president and regularly turns up in industry magazines, blogs, and even on CNN. Oh, and she's chair of the APEX Green Meetings and Events Practice Panel, working feverishly to build consensus and produce sustainable meeting standards by the end of the year. An undisputed leader and pioneer, her efforts have been instrumental in the industry's exploding awareness of the importance of sustainability, in part because of her focus on the business case for greening. Spatrisano does the math, pointing out the cost savings as well as the environmental ones, never hesitating to appeal to the penny-pincher in every planner.Kimberly L. Lewis, Vice President, Conferences and Events
U.S. Green Building Council, Washington
Kimberly Lewis lives in a really big glass house. Not literally, of course, but when you manage Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, you'd better make sure you do everything as sustainably as possible. Under Lewis' stewardship, the USGBC conferences and events team works to cut down on natural resource use and reduce carbon emissions at more than 60 events per year. At its annual conference, which attracted some 28,000 attendees to Boston in 2008, initiatives included completely paperless and ticketless registration; innovative signage and décor, including biodegradable, compostable table coverings made from cornstarch that is free from genetically modified organisms; and at least 25 percent local and organic menus. On-site auditing of that event led to the USGBC team becoming the first in North America to receive Gold certification under BS 8901:2007, the comprehensive new British standard for planning and managing sustainable events.
“I strongly believe that true success comes from combining prosperity in our professional and economic lives with sustainability in the way we do business, and it's important to me that my day-to-day work translates to a better world for future generations.”
— Kimberly L. Lewis
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington
Harry Lewis, attorney adviser with the Environmental Protection Agency, is pushing the meetings industry from talking about going green to actually going green. He has been a driving force in the partnership between the APEX Green Meetings and Events Practice Panel and ASTM International, which the EPA has worked with in the past when crafting accredited standards, in the hope of yielding measurable, credible practices that can be adopted across the industry. In addition, the EPA incorporates green meetings procurement policies into its own Environmentally Preferred Purchasing Program, helping agencies across the federal government — which spends nearly $15 billion a year on meetings and events — to comply with green purchasing requirements. The federal government's enormous buying power is likely to be a wake-up call to suppliers, stimulating market demand for green products and services.
“Greening meetings is about much more than just the meetings. It's about trying to promote the environmental sustainability of an entire industry sector. Promoting green meetings can be an elegant way of protecting the environment through market-based incentives and consumer free choice.”
— Harry Lewis