A Meeting Planner’s Guide to Going Green
Tips and Best Management Practices*
Updated January 2011
This guide is offered by the Department of Environmental
Protection’s Office of Sustainable Initiatives. Sustainable
initiatives are voluntary, non-regulatory programs that assist
Florida industry and citizens in protecting Florida’s
environment. Sustainable Initiatives programs include the
Clean Marina Program, the Clean Vessel Act program and the
Florida Green Lodging Program.
Selecting a Destination
- Select destinations compatible with the event’s purpose
and the demographics of the attendees. If a destination
requires extensive attendee travel, consider using carbon
- Use a list of environmental criteria or the
Destination Selection Questionnaire
[PDF - 65KB] with each meeting Request for Proposal
(RFP). The questionnaire helps you gain information about a
destination’s environmental practices.
- Ask the destination’s convention and visitors’ bureau (CVB)
and local destination management companies (DMCs) to
recommend venues and suppliers that have environmental
practices in place.
- Inform vendors/suppliers of your environmental preferences
and ask about their environmental practices.
- Include a clause in the contract with the
vendor/property that states their commitment to comply with
your environmental requests.
- Consider cities with mass transit systems that connect major
venues with each other and with major transportation hubs (i.e.
airports, train stations).
- Consider off-site events and tours that involve event
attendees in the area’s natural environment with minimal impact.
Choosing Accommodations and Venues
- Select properties that have earned designation as
members of the Florida Green Lodging
Program. Designated properties are listed at
- Use a checklist to assist you in determining the
venue’s/property’s environmental practices. A sample checklist
is located at:
- Include a clause in the contract with the venue/property
that states their commitment to comply with your
- Consider venues and properties willing to offer some of the
- Recycling program that includes the collection of
materials such as paper, metal, glass and plastic.
Staff is instructed to shut blinds, turn off lights and turn
down the heat/air conditioning when guest rooms and meeting
rooms are vacant.
- Guest rooms have dispensers for
soaps, shampoos and lotions, or the property donates un-used
portions of amenities to charity.
- A linen and
towel reuse program with placards offering guests the option
to reuse linens/towels. Housekeeping staff are fully trained
to follow guests’ wishes.
- If using multiple facilities, choose locations where the
hotel and event venue are within walking distance of each other.
- Inform transportation companies of your environmental
preferences and ask about their environmental practices.
- Include a clause in your contract with the transportation
provider that states their commitment to comply with your
- Alert attendees to environmentally preferable
transportation choices such as mass transit and carpooling
for getting to their destination.
- Provide information about the local public transit
system, and/or arrange for shuttles to transport attendees
to and from the airport and the event venue.
- Ask providers if they
follow environmentally responsible maintenance and
recycle used oil, batteries, antifreeze and tires.
Ask providers if they train drivers to minimize idling
and the use of air conditioners, especially when no
passengers are in the vehicle.
- Provide a public
transit pass and map in attendees’ registration packets.
Ask providers if they offer fuel-efficient or
alternative fuel vehicles.
Select cruise lines with active and ongoing environmental
policies and practices.
- Ask cruise lines if they have
spill prevention plans.
- Ask cruise lines if
they have responsible waste management policies
including no offshore dumping.
- Ask cruise
lines if they have shipboard recycling, waste
minimization and water conservation.
- Ask airlines
if they use reusable or biodegradable service ware.
Ask if they collect service items used in flight and recycle
- Ask if the aircraft is fuel-efficient and
Food & Beverage
Have attendees sign-up for
meals on the registration form to indicate their intentions
to attend specific meal functions throughout the event.
Better attendance numbers will reduce food waste and costs.
- Inform suppliers of your environmental preferences and
ask about their environmental practices.
- Include a clause in the contract with suppliers and caterers
that state their commitments to comply with your environmental
- Require by contract that the caterer/supplier meet the
- Uses reusable cutlery,
dishware, linens and decorations. If disposables are
unavoidable, make sure they contain a significant amount of
Use compostable and/or biodegradable products ONLY when they are
able to be disposed of in a municipal or commercial facility
operated in accordance with best composting management
- Consider using water dispensers/coolers and
paper cups made with a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer
recycled content in conferences and meetings rather than
bottled water, or glasses and pitchers.
Condiments, beverages and other food items provided in bulk
instead of individually packaged and that any packaging is
recyclable and recycled.
- Uses locally produced
seasonal and/or organic food and beverages when possible
Allow staff to consume left-over foods and/or donate them to
a local food bank or soup kitchen, and compost or donate
table scraps to farms where possible. Most states greatly
limit the liability of business that donate food items to
licensed food handlers.
clause in the agreement with the facility and/or decorator
- Inform exhibiting organizations of your environmental
- Include a clause in the exhibitor agreement that ensures
their commitment to comply with your environmental request;
include the following practices:
Minimize the use of collateral materials, and, for any necessary
materials, produce them double-sided, with a minimum of 30
percent post-consumer, recycled paper with vegetable-based inks.
- Minimize packaging and recycle packaging when
Use products which contain a significant amount of recycled
content as giveaways and do not use gift items made from
endangered or threatened species.
- Try to use locally
- Provide materials
electronically on memory sticks or on a Web site for
- Bring only what is needed
for the event; reuse what is not distributed. Inform
facilities and decorators of your environmental
preferences and ask about their environmental practices.
If leftover materials cannot be returned, work with one
of Florida’s Educational Reuse Centers in your the
areas. See “Resources” at
- Provide recycling for
cardboard, pallets, paper, cans, plastic, glass and
other recyclable materials that are generated.
Ensure clean-up crews are trained to keep recyclable and
reusable items out of the garbage.
- Choose decorations
and display materials that can be reused and/or are made
out of recycled materials.
Event Communications & Marketing
- Consider opening each plenary session with a green tip
of the day. Green tips are located at:
- Ensure staff is informed of your environmental standards
initiatives for the meeting/event.
- Communicate the event’s green initiatives to attendees,
stakeholders and the media.
- Reduce paper use by using the Web and e-mail to promote the
event. Offering electronic registration and provide the event
itinerary and proceedings on-line (including speaker notes and
- For materials that need to be printed, print on
double-sided, post-consumer, recycled paper using
- Reuse nametags made of recycled content and provide ‘reuse’
collection bins for them.
- Request the hotel/venue provides Banquet Event Orders (BEOs)
and rooming lists electronically, in addition to providing
electronic check in/check out services for attendees.
- Reduce transportation emissions and support local
economies by using local talent and products whenever
Office Procedures for Meeting Planners
- Establish detailed environmental policies and procedures
to implement them. Communicate policies to engage all
employees, vendors and clients.
- Encourage low-impact transportation (i.e., walking, biking,
mass transit) which reduces energy consumption and emissions.
- Focus on cost-saving, energy-efficient efforts, including:
Purchasing ENERGY STAR® products when replacing equipment.
Using laptops when possible (on average they use 10 percent
less energy than desktop computers).
- Using LCD
rather than CRT monitors.
- Encouraging employees to
turn off equipment and lighting, and turn down thermostats
when leaving for extended periods of time.
inkjet printers rather than laser printers as they use less
- Considering equipment that can print on
both sides of paper.
- Considering multi-purpose
office equipment (all-in-one fax, printer, scanner, copier).
These generally require less energy and space than their
- Shift written
communications (rooming lists and layouts, event orders,
settlement of accounts and other contractual documentation)
to e-mail whenever possible.
- When printing is required, use double-sided copies and
post-consumer, recycled content paper with soy-based ink.
- Minimize the use of costly new packing supplies by
reusing boxes and packing materials.
- Save directional, food and beverage and other generic
signs for reuse.
- Occasionally use regular mail, rather than bulk
discounted mail, to ensure that mailing lists are valid
which can reduce waste.
*Information is this guide was compiled from
the Convention Industry Council’s Green Meetings Task Force
composed of individuals from the EPA, the Ocean’s Blue
Foundation, the Society of Incentive Travel Executive’s Green
Meeting Group, the World Travel Organization, hotels, convention
and visitors bureaus, convention centers, and meeting-planning