When you think of meetings at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, you think of hospitality, not necessarily “environmentality.”
But for the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the latter was a major draw. Environmentality is the resort's tag for its many green initiatives, but one in particular really interested the Farmers group — a tour of the property as an agricultural processing organization.
Think about it — the massive park encompasses four theme parks, six convention hotels, two entertainment districts, and championship golf courses on 40 square miles. From an operations perspective, it's like running a city, so it requires expertise in wastewater management, irrigation, recycling and waste management, agriculture, farming, not to mention animal maintenance (Disney's Animal Kingdom houses hundreds of wild animals).
So association executives, working with staffers at the Disney Institute, were able to create a behind-the-scenes tour of Disney as an agricultural and farming operation. They also scheduled a presentation with Disney engineers and officials that spoke about the operation as well as the resort's other green initiatives. The delegation enjoyed the experience, says Jean-Mari Peltier, president, NCFC. Given the size of the operation, “it was an experience we were couldn't have done anywhere else,” she says.
Disney is committed to green initiatives in other ways, as well. Four of Disney World's convention properties have received “Green Lodging” certification from the state of Florida. Each property was recognized for practices that reduce waste and conserve energy, such as a computerized energy-management system that regulates and automatically reduces energy consumption in hotel rooms and meeting rooms. Disney also has a recycling program with bins for cans, bottles, and paper placed in all meeting rooms and hotel rooms. Additionally, banquet food that is not served is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. That results in about 50,000 pounds of food donated per month. Disney's Culinary Conservation Committee has been established to implement green purchasing practices.
But there was much fun to be had along with the tour, says Peltier. NCFC developed a skit in conjunction with Disney's Event Planning Group as part of an elaborate show that brought the incoming board chairman onstage dressed as Indiana Jones. “It was a huge ‘Wow!’” Peltier says.
For more on the greening of Disney, visit www.disneyenvironmentality.com.