Pollution Prevention (P2)

Green Meetings

Whether you are a meeting host, planner or service supplier, you can use this site to find the tips, tools and resources to make environmentally responsible choices for meetings and events.

You will find here:

Basic Information - on the practices for planning and executing meeting events which are more environmentally, socially and economically responsible.

Targeted Roles & Tasks - Find information geared toward:

  • Meeting planner
  • Supplier of meeting services
  • Meeting host who contracts with meeting planners
  • Attendee

Green Meeting Initiatives - Get sources for incentives and expertise to achieve sustainability in the meeting, events and conference industry, including:

Related Links and Resources - Get more information to help you plan meetings while minimizing negative impacts on the environment.

Green Hotels - Resources, Ecolabels and Standards

Basic Information

A "green" meeting is one that is organized and implemented in such a way as to minimize negative impacts on the environment and promote a positive social legacy for the host community. Meetings and events are not stand alone activities. The average meeting or conference influences a number of other independent yet interactive industry sectors which, in turn, may produce a direct economic, social and environmental impact at their point of intersection. Meetings thus become stepping stones for sustainability in communities, creating local market demand for reductions in the use of toxic materials, the production of waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and the use of water and energy.

Anyone who has ever organized a conference or meeting knows the monetary and environmental costs involved in such an undertaking. In an effort to address these concerns, and to incorporate Green Purchasing into more public settings, EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program supports the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) Exit and its various best practice tips for managing and executing more sustainable meetings and events.  Their website provides a 6 step sustainability framework and provides 10 Easy Tips for Making your Event More Sustainable (PDF) (1 pg, K, About PDF) Exit. You will also find other educational resources, case studies, best practice guides and webinars.

Finally, the online tool offers users a broad list of other links and resources. The goal of this tool is to allow users access to a comprehensive resource that should save time, money and the environment.

Targeted Roles & Tasks

Learn more about what you can do to minimize environmental impacts from meetings:

Meeting Planner

Find tips, tools, and resources to make planning environmentally responsible meetings easyExit

Meeting Service Supplier

Meeting service suppliers provide any of the following services related to meetings:

  • Convention and Visitors Bureaus,
  • Accommodations,
  • Transportation,
  • Food and Beverage,
  • Communications and Marketing,
  • Meeting and Event Venues.

Tips and case studies to help in making meetings and events more sustainable can be found at the Green Meetings Council's Best Practices web site. Exit

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Meeting Host

As the one ultimately responsible for calling for and/or funding a meeting, you are likely to act as a major decision maker over certain large aspects of the meeting, including whether a meeting is planned with sustainability principles in mind or not. Whether you instruct or coordinate with internal meeting planners or you contract out to external meeting planners, makes a difference in your strategy and how you choose to proceed.

Internal Meeting Planners - Here you may point your meeting planners in the direction of the Green Meeting Industry Council web site Exit and encourage or instruct them to make use of the resources and community contained therein while engaging in the planning process. Depending on your position in your organization, you may have to seek senior management support to go beyond encouraging the consideration of the environment in the planning of the meeting. An internal Meeting Green Policy (or "Sustainable Event Policy") could be sought to make your organization's commitment to green meetings more official.

External Meeting Planners - Here you are likely to be contracting with an individual or company external to your own through some sort of contract agreement. The final contract agreement signed between your organization and that of the meeting planners, can include environmental performance ("sustainability") language requiring or giving preference to any and all attempts to green the meeting.

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Meeting Attendee

Many people may think or assume that the only ones who can green a meeting are those responsible for a meeting as a meeting host is, or those responsible for planning the meeting or supplying any of its services. However, this isn't the case and there are plenty of things someone who attends meetings as a speaker or participant can do to promote and expand the benefits of more sustainable meetings.

  • If you are attending a green meeting, look for and take advantage of any opportunity presented to "do the green thing." For example you try to utilize public transportation if available or bring your own water bottle to cut down on waste. The full environmental potential of a meeting depends on cooperative attendees!
  • If you are attending a meeting that doesn't appear to be green and doesn't mention sustainability initiatives anywhere, approach the meeting hosts and organizers and politely express your preference to attend more environmentally responsible meetings. You might refer them to the following two web sites to get started: GMIC Exit for government meeting planners, or even US General Services Administration (GSA Federal Travel Regulation - Guide to Sustainable Conferences (DOC) (10 pp)).
  • Promote the concept of greening meetings within your organization whether a current meeting is being planned or not. Possibly seek establishing an organizational commitment to the concept that will apply to all future meetings. Request that in-planning or future meetings be "greened" and promoted as such. For information on starting your own "green team" take a look at GMIC resources on how you can get started.

By keeping the concept and content of green meetings in mind when you attend, plan or support a meeting, you can help these green practices become second nature!

Additional Links and Resources

On this page:

EPA and Other Federal Programs

Energy Star Program
Energy Star is a voluntary partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the EPA, product manufacturers, local utilities, and retailers. Partners help promote efficient products by labeling with the Energy Star logo and educating consumers about the benefits of energy efficiency. The program includes initiatives for Energy Star Small Business, Energy Star Buildings and Greenlights, Methane Outreach, and Energy Star Labeling of Buildings. Also visit:
Energy Star for Lodging
Energy Star Hospitality Resources

EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
Encourages and assists executive agencies to purchase environmentally preferable products and services. This site explains EPA's proposed guiding principles for including environmental performance in purchasing decision making, and post case studies of successful pilot projects in both public and private sectors. Learn more about EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

EPA's Indoor Air Quality Program
This program is designed to provide information to help you decide what actions can be taken that reduce the level of indoor air pollution. Learn more about EPA's Indoor Air Quality Program

Sustainable Materials Management
Sustainable materials management is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire lifecycles. It represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. Read about EPA's work through the Sustainable Materials Management program.

Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) Program
Part of EPA's continuing effort to promote the use of materials recovered from solid waste. Resources on this site include a list of recommended products and sources for those products. Learn more about the Comprehensive Procurement Guideline.

Green Meetings and Conferences Policy - US EPA Region 9
This policy aims to reduce the environmental footprint of EPA Region 9 meetings and conferences, and supports the Agency's and Region 9's goals of preventing pollution, minimizing use of resources, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Download the Green Meetings and Conferences Policy - US EPA Region 9.

Water Sense
A partnership program by EPA, Water Sense seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services. Read about the WaterSense Program.

US General Services Administration Federal Travel Regulation - Guide to Sustainable Conferences
GSA has published a guide to sustainable conferences to assist Federal meeting planners whose agencies are subject to the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) to lessen the environmental impact of government-planned, contracted, or sponsored conferences and events. Read the US GSA Federal Travel Regulation - Guide to Sustainable Conferences (DOC). (10 pp)

Other Programs

EPA has compiled this list of non-EPA references and sources that relate broadly and generally to the planning and implementation of "green" -- or more sustainable -- meetings, conferences and events both in the government and private sectors. This list is for informational purposes only, and inclusion on the list does not imply any EPA endorsement of these entities, their products or services.  The following links exit the site Exit

To add another source or program equivalent to those on this list, please contact us.

ASTM/APEX Green Meeting Standard
These American National Standards (ANSI) are composed of nine individual sets of sector specifications addressing the scope of the meeting and event planning process. These include standards for the evaluation and selection of accommodations, meeting venues, destinations, food and beverage, exhibits, on-site office, transportation, audio visual, and communications.  Read more about ASTM/APEX Green Meeting Standard.

Green Meetings Industry Council
The Green Meetings Industry Council site has an extensive list of tools, tips and resources as well as testimonials, case studies, elearning and trainings and workshops.  Read more about the Green Meetings Industry Council.

Green Key Eco-Rating Program
The program, an initiative of the Hotel Association of Canada, recognizes and rewards hotels and motels that are making environmental responsibility a part of their daily operations.  Learn more about the Green Key Eco-Rating Program.

Meeting Professionals International (MPI)

Meeting Professionals International provides resources and training focused on reducing the environmental impact of meetings through promotin recycling, reducing paper waste and creating environmentally-conscious business partnerships. For more information visit the Meeting Professionals International web site or contact Bob Tess (btess@mpiweb.org).

United Nations Environment Programme - Green Meeting Guide 2009
The Guide is designed to assist organizers and hosts of small-to medium-sized meetings in including green considerations as early as possible in the preparation of the event. It describes the issues to consider in the planning phase and provides a very simple and concrete check list to pick and choose concrete actions to carry out.  Read the United Nations Environment Programme - Green Meeting Guide 2009.