The green meetings scene heated up this summer with the launch of a second industry association dedicated to the cause. The new Association for Green Meetings & Events ( has attracted 236 members and more than 75,000 visitors since its Web site went live in late June, according to Loriann White, CMM, AGME's co-founder, president, and chief innovation officer.

The group has developed a 25-hour green meetings certification program for planners and suppliers, which will launch at its first meeting, August 24-27 in Long Beach, Calif. The Convention Industry Council has announced that participants who earn their Certification in Green Meetings and Events will be awarded continuing education credits toward their Certified Meeting Professional application or recertification.

The Atlanta-based AGME, a non-profit association with a 501(c)3 status, is led by several industry veterans. White is a regional vice president at site-selection firm ConferenceDirect, with 17 years of meeting planning experience — including “eight years practicing as a green planner,” she says. Co-founder and chief operating officer Hadley Laughlin was event manager at The Coca-Cola Co. until August 2007, when she and White launched a group for Altanta-area meeting pros interested in sustainability, the Atlanta Green Meetings Council. In April 2008, Laughlin established Plan-it Friendly LLC, a boutique consultancy dedicated to green event management and sustainable project management.

Michele Wierzgac, CMM, principal with Chicago-based Michele & Company, is chief knowledge officer for AGME and helped to create the certification's core curriculum.

AGME's mission is to be a clearinghouse for green best practices and case studies, and to offer steps toward sustainable meetings and events. White says the idea for the certification program developed earlier this year while she was creating a business plan as the final exam to earn her Certificate in Meeting Management from Meeting Professionals International. As part of her research, she surveyed meeting professionals and found that 85 percent were “in favor of a certification dedicated to green meetings,” even though 81 percent did not currently do anything to green their meetings.

The agenda at AGME's August meeting will be focused on the new certification. “In the future, we plan to offer the CGME as a two-day, pre-conference component,” White explains. “The annual meeting will consist of how-to workshops, recycling/composting demonstrations, and community outreach programs to include the traditional discussions on contract negotiations, strategic partnerships, risk management, and a vendor showcase.”

Also serving environmentally concerned meeting professionals is the Portland, Ore.-based Green Meetings Industry Council, formed in 2003.

Strategic Reading

“Take hold of your future or the future will take hold of you,” warns Patrick Dixon, author of Futurewise: The Six Faces of Global Change. Dixon, who keynotes MPI's World Education Congress in Las Vegas this month, explores what the future will be like in the updated, fourth edition of his book and makes predictions on how future developments such as virtual reality and human cloning will affect our business and personal lives. The book, written as a “personal and corporate guide” to surviving in the future, discusses six aspects of change — Fast, Urban, Tribal, Universal, Radical, and Ethical. The better grasp we have on these six principles, maintains Dixon, the better prepared we will be to adapt to global change.