Photo: How to host a green conference

A green conference incorporates environmental initiatives to minimize its negative impact on the planet. (Credit: Zigazou76 via Flickr)

A green conference (or event) incorporates environmental initiatives to minimize its negative impact on the planet. And it addresses everything you'd expect—energy and water consumption, transportation, food and drink, brochures, waste, and more.

Before you dive into planning a low-carbon, carbon-neutral and/or zero-waste conference, you'll need buy-in. Get an organizing committee together with members who are dedicated to making your event as sustainable as possible.

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How will you advertise? Paper posters and direct mail are so yesterday. Choose paperless promotional activities like e-newsletters, a button on your website, Facebook and Twitter. Check out e-services like Eventbrite take care of invites and tickets (with instant RSVP option).

As for conference materials like session descriptions, presenter bios, and handouts, post all conference materials online (and make it mobile phone friendly). Let attendees know in advance that it's a paperless conference.

Does your city boast a green building or two? Your venue doesn't have to be LEED-certified. It could also be a green hotel—the Green Key Eco-Rating Program rates hotels and resorts on environmental performance. And choose a central location with access to public transit.

You can also reduce food and beverage waste. Choose a catering service that offers locally grown, seasonal, vegetarian and/or sustainable seafood options. Ensure that the venue or caterer offers reusable plates, flatware, and cloth napkins. Avoid single-serve options, like bottled water and single creamers and sugar packets. Coordinate with caterers or the venue to ensure all leftover food is donated to a local food bank or charity. And ask about composting and recycling bins!

To tackle carbon emissions, consider purchasing gold standard carbon offsets or have your event Bullfrog Powered. Bullfrog Power™ is Canada's leading 100 per cent green electricity provider. They'll ensure that as much clean, emissions-free electricity is injected into the regional grids as the event uses.

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