Considering the effects of meetings on the environment is the purpose of a new activity launched by ASTM International and the Convention Industry Council through its Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) initiative. Responding to a request from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ASTM and CIC have gathered a variety of stakeholders from government, business and industry in Task Group E06.71.14 on Green Meetings and Events. The focus of the task group, which is currently being housed in Subcommittee E06.71 on Sustainability, part of ASTM International Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings, will be the development and implementation of industry-wide accepted practices to create and enhance efficiencies throughout the meetings, conventions and exhibition industry.
The Convention Industry Council is an organization that facilitates the exchange of information in this field. Terri Breining, president of Concepts Worldwide and chairwoman of the APEX initiative, points out the value of working with ASTM, "Collaborating with ASTM, which has more than 100 years of experience in developing standards through a voluntary consensus process, allows APEX to associate green meetings and events with an organization known for its best-in-class practices for standards development and delivery."
Green meetings and events standards developed through APEX will now also go through the ASTM process, under the auspices of Task Group E06.71.14. Interested parties are encouraged to participate in both the APEX process as well as in the ASTM task group. Vetting green meetings and events standards through the ASTM process will solidify their status as the standards to follow in creating green meetings and events.
In order to further consolidate their working relationship, ASTM International and CIC have recently signed a memorandum of understanding. The MOU outlines a framework of cooperation between ASTM and CIC to develop the core standards for green meetings and events.
Following a preliminary October 2007 meeting attended by many potential stakeholders at EPA headquarters, the new activity was formally established within ASTM International on Feb. 14. Topics addressed during a Feb. 18 planning session included what the function of future standards should be, aspects of meetings to be discussed in standards and the short- and long-term priorities of the task group. Among the attendees at the Feb. 18 meeting were Shawna McKinley, Green Meeting Industry Council; Harry Lewis, U.S. EPA; and Amy Spatrisano, Convention Industry Council, who will also chair the APEX Green Meetings and Events Practice Panel.
The standards development process will be multi-faced, incorporating many economic sub-sectors including lodging and hospitality, convention centers and trade shows, food service, transportation and meeting planning, etc. Sue Tinnish, APEX director states, "The standard will take these interrelated sectors and define best practices and voluntary standards that can be implemented to create a more environmentally responsible meeting or event. The vision is to create a set of best practices that will help planners and suppliers alike navigate the sometime confusing process of making meetings and events green."
The origin of the E06.71.14 activity can be traced back to May 2007, when the EPA amended its Environmental Protection Agency Acquisition Regulation (EPAAR) procurement regulations to require consideration of environmental performance in decisions to purchase meeting and conference space. Questions formulated by the EPA to elicit information in proposals to assist procurements officers in this task do not currently define performance levels in various environmental categories. However, the questions do identify areas that will be subjectively considered until more defined performance standards are developed and adopted. The EPA contacted ASTM International in order to investigate the development of such standards.
ASTM Task Group E06.71.14 welcomes all interested parties and stakeholders to participate in the development of standards for green meetings and events.
For technical information, contact Sue Tinnish, APEX, Convention Industry Council, Washington, D.C. (phone: 847-394-9857; firstname.lastname@example.org). Committee E06 meets Sept. 28-Oct. 1 during the October committee week in Miami, Fla. For meeting or membership information, contact Stephen Mawn (phone: 610-832-9726; email@example.com).