The Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX), through its relationship with ASTM International, has been named to an international committee tasked with creating a worldwide standard for sustainable events in time for the 2012 Olympics in London.
The International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 20121 committee, with representatives from 30 countries, is moving aggressively to develop standards for all types of events, says Sue Tinnish. Tinnish has been the liaison between the U.S. standard-setting body, ASTM International, and CIC, as a group of volunteers from the meetings industry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency work to create green standards primarily for the U.S. meetings industry.
Following London’s 2012 Olympics bid, which recognized the need to harmonize the event industry’s efforts to reduce waste and other negative impacts of large events, British Standards Institute developed a national standard, BS 8901, which generated international interest. Among the organizations that have expressed support for an International Standard are the International Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, host of the United Nations’ 15th Climate Change Conference, held in Copenhagen last December.
The ISO standard, which will use BS 8901 as its starting point, will take a management systems approach to creating a sustainable event by requiring identification of key issues such as venue selection, operating procedures, supply chain management, procurement, communications, transport, and others. Like BS 8901, it will respond to the unique needs and nature of the events sector with a flexible approach geared to producing results, according to Fiona Pelham, chair of the ISO Technical Committee, who also sat on the APEX Green Meeting Events and Practices Panel. Pelham is principal of U.K.-based Sustainable Events Ltd. and Organize This Ltd.
BS 8901, in the simplest terms, is a standard that leaves it to an event’s environmental champion to set its own sustainable objectives, engage stakeholders to achieve them, track progress, and establish policies, says Amy Spatrisano, CMP, chair of the APEX panel, and principal of U.S.-based MeetGreen. After the event, the organization reports on whether the meeting achieved those objectives. If it falls short in some areas, the organization documents its plan to remedy the shortfall for future meetings.
The APEX Green Standards complement BS 8901, according to Karen Kotowski, CMP, CAE, chief operating officer of CIC, because the APEX standards offer a checklist of prescriptive measures that can be used by both suppliers and host organizations, each of whom must meet a minimum level of environment-friendly expectations in order to make the event green. An organization will be able to look to the APEX standards to create its goals within the ISO standards’ management structure, once it is established.
ASTM, which is the standard-setting body involved in approving the APEX Green Standards—expected to be finalized this summer—is a member of the American National Standards Institute, a member of ISO. Through ANSI, the United States was invited to participate in the global green standard-setting. “ASTM has created a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), and CIC has been appointed to spearhead the U.S. delegation,” explains Tinnish, who serves as chair.
The TAG now meets regularly, adds Kotowski, during ASTM and ISO conferences. The TAG will serve as the vehicle to gather industry opinion and views and formulate the United States’ comments and votes. The proposal for the development of ISO 20121 was jointly submitted by ABNT, the ISO member for Brazil, and BSI from the U.K.
In other CIC news, Lawrence Leonard, CMP, has been named APEX director. He is the former director of conferences for the National Association of Homebuilders.