The annual Sustainable Meetings Conference, organized by the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC), convened in Montreal this year on April 22-25. GMIC President Paul Salinger (Twitter: @psalinger), vice president of marketing for Oracle, opened the general session by asking the 200-plus in attendance to consider how a leader is defined.
“It’s the daily, seemingly insignificant actions you perform that lead to a different cause,” Salinger said. “Leadership comes from many different places and does not need a title. All of us are leaders in meeting sustainably, and it is time to expand our sphere of influence. Are you all in?”
He cited a quote from Apple founder Steve Jobs: “Being the richest person in the graveyard doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night knowing we did something wonderful is what matters to me.”
Right there I knew a whole lot of wonderful was about to happen. And it did.
“We are a group who is so connected that we’re going to leave our mark,” said opening keynote speaker John Picard (Twitter: @ecoJohnPicard). He encouraged us to “take risks
to get to the cycle of rewards that come back.” Large conference screens, meanwhile, displayed scenes of the film “Ashes and Snow,” showing stunning imagery of mankind interacting with nature, including elephants and cheetahs.
Picard, a sustainable builder and architect, is founder and CEO of John Picard & Associates. His clients have included the first LEED-rated building in the United States (Southern California Gas), the first green film studio (Sony) and the first green retail stores (The Gap). Truly a pioneer, Picard even served as lead consultant for the greening of the White House during President Bill Clinton’s first term.
No GMIC conference would be complete without discussing how to complete the sustainable APEX/ASTM standards (Accepted Practices Exchange/American Society for Testing and Materials), something the organization has been working closely with the Convention Industry Council (CIC) on for more than four years. The good news is that the end is nigh, as eight of the nine standards have been defined and will be available in May.
The nine formal, voluntary standards developed by the meetings, conventions, exhibitions and events industry were created to provide event planners and suppliers prescriptive, measurable specifications for producing events in a more sustainable manner. The standards cover accommodations, audio-visual, communication and marketing materials, destinations, exhibits, food & beverage, meeting venues, on-site offices and transportation
It’s common knowledge that event professionals can find this topic a little on the dull side, but this year Andrew Walker, MES (Twitter: @AndrewSWalker), managing director of E3 Strategy, gave a cognitive overview of how ISO and APEX/ASTM standards work as a “dynamic duo.” Complete with comic book-style superhero imagery (finally, something I could relate to!), Walker boiled it all down simply and precisely: The three criteria for credibility of the standards are legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness. Each standard can stand alone, he said, but they are more beneficial when used together.
COMING IN PART 2: Inspired by weavers and transformed in a blink.
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