Into every life, organizational duties must sometimes fall. Whether it’s a by-product of your primary activity (sales, information dissemination, networking, &tc) or a chosen career path, your planning, choices and attention to detail can lower your carbon footprint, increase your event’s effective flow, and even bring your costs down. An investment of time at the front end makes all of this not just possible, but straightforward.
Why is ‘Green’ event planning sensible?
Green event planning builds a consistent message. Conservation, alternative energy, sustainable living, and holistic treatment paradigms are all natural fits for Green management. So are literary gatherings, scientific consortiums, e-trade fairs, and international summits. Each year, more organizations include resource use awareness and reduction in their mission statements. Help them take concrete steps to make their vision manifest, and grow your business reputation with visible deliverables.
Where will you hold your event?
Hold your event close to your attendees’ point of origin. Less time, money and resources will be spent on getting them there and back again. When your event is well away from your target population center, try using local service providers to reduce travel time on the one side of the carbon-footprint equation. If event staff also have to travel a couple of hours in each direction, not only will fossil fuel use increase but so will labor costs with the travel time rider in effect.
How do people access your event site?
The more limited the access to your site, the longer your service providers (audio-visual, rental, catering, florists, coat-check, registration, vendors) will take to set up and break down. Your costs will rise accordingly. Therefore, skip the breathtaking view across the Potomac to the monuments at night (the single elevator holds six people at time if they know each other REALLY well). Place a priority on ground level, multiple access point sites when you have latitude in booking.
When will you have final counts for everything?
Here’s where the strategies are subtle, but the ROI (Return on Investment) begins to snowball dramatically. If you know how many tablecloths you need besides those for food and beverage service, the fewer rush charges and emergency drop-offs of small loads will be added to your event tab. Do you need a tablecloth for the awards to stand on? What about matching tablecloths for each of the vendors? The name card table? The two panel discussion tables? The registration table? The same holds true for special lighting needs, centerpieces, corsages and garlands, or a second photographer to handle the photo ops with the VIP in one room while the keynote speaker has a photographer and videographer in the auditorium. The more specific you are, and the earlier you communicate your finalized information to your support staff, the better your pricing and flow will be.
Who are your event support staff?
Do you have a florist who works with local, seasonal, IPM (Integrated Pest Management) flowers? Does your caterer serve seasonal menus and have a contract clause regarding appropriate recycling practices? Will the site manager adjust the thermostat up in the warm months and down in the cool months to lower your event’s energy bills? Did you choose rental over disposables, first making use of whatever resources exist on site?
Create a detailed schedule for your event and circulate copies to key support personnel as early as possible. The florist could need an extra hour to set up, since the only sink he can use is in the basement. Or the photographer may remind you the reception line could take an extra hour if everyone has their picture taken with the VIP. Or the caterer will insist you allow fifteen minutes for your attendees to transition from seminars to the dining hall, as you have more than one hundred confirmed. The sooner you have this feedback, the better for the real-time version of your event.
What else can be done to minimize your event’s carbon footprint?
Allow your attendees a paper-free version of the event. Let attendees check an e-form box for paper-free, so’s you have less printed waste at the end of your event. Post the program, PowerPoint handouts, and panel precis on-line. Right now, the cleverest *swag bags* are virtual: coupons for allied vendor products, e-books, and free webinars or networking site access.
Whenever possible, conduct planning via the internet and phone contact. Face-time equals travel time, and often slows efficiencies rather than creating them. Review and confirm expectations with your support vendors at least a week before your event goes live. Changes or adjustments clarified well in advance make for smoother functioning and timeliness in your proposed schedule.
Establish ongoing relationships with your Green-aware service providers. Some firms offer a discount to high-volume customers. Additionally, when vendors have site familiarity, they spend less time scrambling to establish set-up/break-down protocols, and therefore your labor costs will show a decrease as well.
Have I left anything out?