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

On Sept. 30, the General Services Administration released guidelines for sustainable travel for federal agencies, aiming to save travel costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Aside from recommending that government agencies substitute teleconferencing and webcasts for face-to-face meetings whenever possible, the directive offers the following strategies, among others.

• Selecting meeting sites that are accessible by public transportation;

• Holding events at green hotels and venues; and

• Scheduling events concurrently to maximize overlapping attendance.

"Green meetings aren't new to the government; the Environmental Protection Agency has guidelines," said Charles S. Sadler, executive director and CEO of the Society of Government Meeting Pro­fessionals in Alexandria, Va. "But this is the first administration to push these guidelines and expand them."

Sadler added that government planners now need to use the guidelines as part of the RFP process, meaning green practices might give a supplier an edge, even if they won't be the deciding factor at this stage. "But it will come to that," Sadler said.

Partnering with the Green Meetings Industry Council and the Convention Industry Council, SGMP will launch its own green meetings certificate program at its national education conference in Raleigh, N.C., in March 2011. "Our first class is already full," Sadler noted.

To view the complete GSA document, go to bit.ly/bIIEoS.