by Sarah J.F. Braley | October 01, 2010

Greening the contract

Along with changing your organization's practices to be more environmentally friendly, your agreements need to change, too. Joshua L. Grimes, an industry lawyer with offices in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., offers the following advice for adding sustainability requirements to contracts.

What's already in place? Ask the venue to describe its current sustainability practices and policies so you have a place to start.

Negotiate your needs. Determine what other measures are essential to comply with your organization's policies. Discuss how you and the venue can meet those requirements.

Go beyond water bottles. Be specific when detailing what you expect as far as energy efficiency, waste management, F&B purchasing and more are concerned. Every detail needs to be spelled out.

Create a special damages clause. In case the venue fails to meet your sustainability goals, include an environmentally friendly remediation, such as the purchase of carbon offsets or documentable community service. Grimes offers the following sample clause:

The Hotel and the Group agree that, should the Hotel fail to adhere to its environmental obligations as set forth in this Agreement, then the Group shall be harmed. In that event, the Hotel shall purchase carbon offsets from a provider designated by the Group, in an amount equal to the environmental damages caused by the Hotel's breach. In the event that the Group and the Hotel cannot agree in good faith upon the proper amount of carbon offsets to purchase, then the Hotel shall engage a recognized expert approved by the Group to determine the amount of offsets to be purchased. The cost of the expert shall be borne by the Hotel.