by Sarah J.F. Braley | March 13, 2014

Getting going on the sustainability trail for your meetings can be a daunting task, particularly when it involves digesting the hundreds of dry paragraphs that make up the Convention Industry Council’s APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standards. To help planners and suppliers ease down this important road, the people at MeetGreen, the Portland, Ore.-based group of independent planners specializing in sustainable events (run by Green Meetings Industry Council founders Amy Spatrisano, CMP, and Nancy Zavada, CMP), have relaunched their toolkit for creating green meetings. The original kit had been compiled in 2007.

In updating the tools, Spatrisano says they drew on worksheets that they had on hand from the genesis of the APEX/ASTM standards. “The original concept was in spreadsheet format,” she says. “People don’t realize that there’s a tremendous amount of redundancy. Most people look at the standards and just zone out. It’s so not user-friendly. We have used the spreadsheets for all our clients, and put them in the revised tool. The format doesn’t compromise the standards.”

The comprehensive kit includes checklists for planners and suppliers covering all nine of the standards: accommodations, audiovisual, communications, destination selection, exhibits, food and beverage, meeting venue, on-site office and transportation. The worksheets cover pre-event, on-site and post-event actions, helping planners see where they stand on the green meetings spectrum and what they can do to up their events’ environmentally friendly quotient.

Particularly helpful is sample contract language for agreements with caterers, conference management, exhibitors (two options), general services contractors, hotels (full-service and limited-service), registration companies, show management, transportation services (freight and attendee), venues, venue caterers and A/V companies. Remember, however, to check with your organization’s attorneys to make sure the language works for your events.

For groups that want to keep more of their events’ detritus out of the landfills, a donation checklist suggests taking time beforehand to determine items that can be given to local charities, from office supplies and signs to food, bags and promotional pens — not to mention carpeting. A list of suppliers can help you on your way.

A very cool calculator, called “If One Attendee…,” shows how certain green practices can make a significant environmental impact. For instance, input your 100 attendees in the calculator and it reveals that if they all participate in a linen-reuse program 130 gallons of water will be saved. If those same 100 attendees use refillable water bottles, enough energy is saved to run a 75-watt lighbulb for 2,900 hours or to run an average American household for 200 hours, besides keeping 200 water bottles out of the landfill.

Learn more about the toolkit or buy it for $199 here.