There was a buzz around this year’s Greening the Hospitality Industry conference, held in Vancouver February 19 to 21. For one, the host association, the Green Meeting Industry Council, has grown 116 percent in the past year, to 147 members, and is expected to become an official member of the Convention Industry Council after an April vote. “Four years ago, green meetings didn’t have a place in this industry,” said GMIC President Amy Spatrisano, a partner with Nancy Wilson, CMP, in Meeting Strategies Worldwide, Portland, Ore. “There were a few early adopters, but there was no conduit, nowhere to network. Now there is.”

And network they did, over two days filled with education on everything from carbon offsets to green gift-giving. The meeting also walked the talk by using aluminum water bottles and recycled conference bags and organizing a pre-conference trip to the Vancouver Food Bank, where attendees spent the afternoon preparing meals for the city’s homeless. The host hotel, The Four Seasons Vancouver, also put forth a model effort with its recycling program, choice of local F&B, and towel re-use initiative.

Just as exciting as the GMIC’s growth is the news that, thanks in part to the organization’s efforts, meeting planners will soon have a set of standards to follow when planning a green meeting. Along with ASTM International—an independent, nonprofit standards organization that has created more than 12,000 standards used in dozens of industries in more than 60 countries—and the Environmental Protection Agency, GMIC leaders are collaborating on universal standards for meetings and events that will be made available to the public. ASTM is in talks with the CIC to join this effort, and often during the conference, the standards were referred to as the ASTM/APEX standards. (APEX is the CIC’s Accepted Practices Exchange initiative). The process is expected to take at least a year, with a first draft within six months.

The standards development activities are open to all interested stakeholders. For more information, contact Pat A. Picariello, director, developmental operations, ASTM, at ppicarie@astm.org.