Monday, April 5, 2010

Green Locales for This Year's Annual Conventions

Image: Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. is hosting the ASLA 2010 Annual Meeting

By Jill Bellenger, ASLA, CPH

With organizations like the US Green Building Council, American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) all gearing up for annual conventions later this year, it’s important to consider the effect that business travel has on our natural resources. Green hotels are not only a sustainable opportunity for business lodging, they are also a common and convenient spot for hosting conventions, corporate meetings, and retreats.

First in June is the AIA National Convention, held in sunny Miami. With the Florida Green Lodging program set forth by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, Miami is not new to the green movement. With well over 600 volunteer lodging members to the program, it is required for each member to commit to a variety of sustainable practices. As for the convention itself, the AIA aims to offset 100% of its emissions with the help of $10 individual donations for every registration.

Washington, D.C. is on the list as well, hosting the ASLA Annual Meeting in September. D.C. is listed as one of the country’s leading examples of sustainability on Sustainlane’s 2008 rankings. It ranks 2nd in the Green Building category, following behind Portland, OR. Specifically, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where the event will take place, has its own Green Initiatives program. The center utilizes natural ventilation, an extensive recycling program, and many others listed on their website.

It’s only fitting that the USGBC Greenbuild is being held this coming November in Chicago, which leads the nation with over 25 Green Hotels in its Green Hotels Initiative program and continues to lead in number and square footage of urban green roofs. Returning after only a few short years, USGBC plans to host a variety of programs allowing folks to experience the city’s most notable sustainable projects and places, for those that can make the time among all other educational programs offered.

USGBC has also put together a helpful tool called the Hotel & Conference Center Environmental Questionnaire inside its Green Venue Selection Guide to assist in identifying proper energy efficient facilities to help business travelers and planners meet their sustainability goals. The questionnaire also covers topics like the overall waste stream of the facility, sustainable and local purchasing, and access and use of alternative transportation. It’s a great way to document a hotel’s level of sustainable commitment.

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