Sustainability a Mile High

Denver has become the first destination in the world to be certified under the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards that were unveiled last year. Visit Denver, the Colorado Convention Center, and Image Audiovisuals — the convention center’s in-house AV provider — were certified in the categories of Destinations, Meeting Venue, and Audio-Visual, respectively.

“The nice win is, it’s not just Denver saying we’re a green city,” said Tiffany Hoambrecker, Visit Denver’s associate director of convention services. “With these standards, we actually have a validation saying we’re third-party-certified with regard to this. There’s actually a platform to use as a measuring stick.”

The voluntary APEX/ASTM standards, which were developed by the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) initiative and submitted to ASTM International for independent review and approval, also address sustainability in Communication & Marketing Materials, Exhibits, Food & Beverage, On-Site Office, and Transportation. A ninth standard, for Accommodations, is still pending.

The new certifications are a logical culmination of Denver’s longstanding commitment to greening its meetings infrastructure — especially at the Colorado Convention Center, which in 2010 received LEED certification for Existing Buildings. Three years before that, the center hired a full-time sustainable programs manager — the first in the industry, according to Hoambrecker. In addition to a variety of other environmentally friendly initiatives, the center features a solar-panel array that generates upwards of 300 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, a donation program for leftover conference materials, and two of Denver’s Bike Share stations.

“The Colorado Convention Center pursued this [APEX/ASTM] certification because of a multitude of benefits,” said Lindsay Arell, the center’s sustainable programs manager. “In addition to supporting our commitment to sustainable operations, we also feel that by becoming certified we are offering a unique opportunity and service to our clients to realize their sustainability goals.”

And to realize just how sustainable the center and its city are. “Not every decision is based on sustainability,” Hoambrecker said, “but the nice thing is, if two cities are pretty comparable right next to each other, but then Denver has this sustainability [certification], that could be a driving decision for our clients.”

Over the next few years, Visit Denver would like to see other members of its meetings and hospitality community become certified in their areas, Hoambrecker said, “so collectively, as a whole, we can meet and touch on every aspect of these standards.”

Sustainable Sydney

Sustainable meetings and events have gone global. Watch a four-part webcast about how GreenShoot Pacific implemented the ISO 20121 international event-sustainability standard at Sydney Festival 2012:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.