Early-bird conference rates for The Green Meeting Industry Council’s annual North American conference, to be held in Denver February 9–11, end December 31.

The conference has a new name, the Sustainable Meetings Conference (formerly the Greening the Hospitality Industry Conference), but its mission is still the same: to be the premier event that engages meeting organizers and hosts to address important sustainability issues affecting the meetings and events industry.

This year’s conference promises “to demonstrate the critical role of green standards development and international sustainability reporting initiatives as best-practice frameworks for the meetings and events industry,” says GMIC Board President Amy Spatrisano, principal of MeetGreen, a company that focuses on helping meetings become more environmentally responsible.

GMIC selected Denver as the conference site both for its natural beauty and, more important, for its strong group of committed leaders who helped to make the 2008 Democratic National Convention the greenest political convention to date. The city continues to be dedicated to environmental, social, and economic responsibility as it pertains to the meetings and events industry.

The 2010 GMIC programs committee has designed interactive learning sessions that reflect the metrics-based approach of the APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange)/ASTM green meeting standards and that also build in process-learning methodology from other international event standards, including BS 8901, the designation for green meetings in the U.K.

The GMIC 2010 keynote speaker is Annie Leonard, author and host of the online film The Story of Stuff, a fast-paced, fact-filled exposé on the hidden environmental and social costs of current systems of production and consumption.

Get full conference details at the event’s Web site.