The newly formed Association for Green Meetings & Events has developed the first certification for planners and suppliers interested in greening their meetings: The Certification in Green Meetings and Events. The 25-hour certification process will be launched at the association’s first meeting August 24 to 27 in Long Beach, Calif.

The Atlanta-based group, which is a non-profit association with a 501(c)3 status, was co-founded by Loriann White, CMM, president and chief innovation officer, and Hadley Laughlin, chief operating officer. White, a regional vice president with site-selection firm ConferenceDirect, has 17 years of meeting planning experience—including “eight years practicing as a green planner,” she says.

Laughlin was event manager at The Coca-Cola Company until August 2007, when she co-founded the Atlanta Green Meetings Council with White. In April 2008, Hadley established Plan-it Friendly, LLC, a boutique consultancy dedicated to green event management and sustainable project management.

Michelle Wierzgac, CMM, principal with Chicago-based Michele & Company, is chief knowledge officer for AGME and assisted with creating the certification’s core curriculum.

The association’s mission is to serve as an eco-friendly clearinghouse and resource on best green practices, provide case studies, and offer steps toward greening 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. When she did a survey of meeting professionals, she found that 85 percent were “in favor of a certification dedicated to green meetings,” even though 81 percent did not currently practice green meetings, says White.

Since the majority of registered attendees at the first annual meeting in August belong to the Atlanta chapter of the new association, who have been meeting regularly about green meeting initiatives, White says the program will be dedicated to the new certification. “In the future, we plan to offer the CGME as a two-day, pre-conference component to the annual meeting,” she 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 marketplace/vendor showcase opportunity.”

Since launching its Web site in late June, AGME has attracted 236 members and more than 75,000 visitors. Go to www.agmeinc.org for more.