. Corporate social responsibility. Voluntourism. What used to be the purview of a select few socially conscious meeting planners is fast becoming standard practice in our industry. These 12 leaders have helped to move sustainability into the mainstream through education, advocacy, and downright hard work.
Marge Anderson, Associate Director
Energy Center of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc.
Marge Anderson is everywhere—from the pages of the New York Times to speaking engagements across the country. Her vocal leadership when it comes to 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 technical assistance and 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.
For more on Marge, see “How Green Will they Get?”
Guy Bigwood, Group Sustainability Director
Michael Luehrs, Group Sustainability Services Manager
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 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 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 (SEM) protocols and a Supplier Code of Conduct, which informed the creation of the supplier engagement document endorsed by the Green Meeting Industry Council. Check out Luehrs’ and Bigwood’s blog.
Click here for more on MCI’s green efforts.
Shawna McKinley, Project Manager
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 resume that hits all the high points in the emerging green meetings world. 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-USEPA Green Meetings Standards development process, served on the Convention Industry Council’s Green Meetings Task Force, and helped to create the IMEX Green Meetings Award.
Check out this interview with Shawna.
Carina Bauer, Marketing and Operations Director
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, biodiesel courtesy buses, reuse of surplus food through local farms, and sustainably sourced materials for bags and printed items.
Read more on the IMEX green awards.
Sue Tinnish, Principal
SEAL Inc., Arlington Heights, Ill.
Terri Breining, CMP, CMM, President & CEO
Concepts Worldwide, Inc., Carlsbad, Calif.
Defining a “green meeting” for the APEX Green Meetings & Events Practice Panel, complete with steps, checklists, guidelines, and a certification process, is the Herculean task undertaken by Terri Breining, president & CEO at Concepts Worldwide, and Sue Tinnish, former interim APEX director and principal at SEAL Inc. Breining, who serves as chair of the APEX commission, and Tinnish, who is acting as liaison with experts from ASTM International to develop an accredited green meeting standard, (along with Amy Spatrisano, see below), are prodding nine committees and an army of volunteers to agree on 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 chorus of planners tasked with making their events sustainable continues to grow.
For more on the APEX-ASTM green standards, check out our free on-demand Webinar.
Nancy Wilson, CMP, Principal
MeetGreen, Portland, Ore.
Nancy Wilson is living proof that when you do what you love, success will follow. Founding 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.
Check out Nancy’s blog.
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 cofounded 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 & Events Practice Panel, and 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.
Learn more about GMIC.
Amy Spatrisano, CMP, Principal
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, co-founded the Green Meeting Industry Council and currently 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 & 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, and never hesitates to appeal to the penny-pincher in every planner.
See how MeetGreen worked with the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Kimberly L. Lewis, Vice President, Conferences & Events
U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C.
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 GMO-free cornstarch; 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 be certified Gold under BS 8901:2007, the comprehensive new British standard for planning and managing sustainable events.
Learn more about Greenbuild.
Harry Lewis, Attorney Advisor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.
Harry Lewis, attorney advisor 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 & Events Practice Panel and ASTM, an organization 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 be a wake-up call to suppliers, stimulating market demand for green products and services.
See an interview with Harry in Financial & Insurance Meetings magazine.