“Green” is not the visionary idea of a small number of isolated militants anymore: it is nowadays a practice that had been codified and tested on the global scene by the most important realities very demanding in terms of financial and image return. It’s a virtuous cause that has to be joined.
1. Is it just a trend?
Today being “green” is trendy, but it’s also a real innovation. At the moment it is also a real marketing opportunity and we have every reason to believe that tomorrow it will produce constraints and obligations. It’s important to be ready and take advantage: those who will conform first will become more competitive. The green is an approach that shouldn’t be improvised with cunning tricks just to keep up the appearances. By now everyone accepts well-established procedures and rules and recognizes specialized competences and methodologies, in an integrated interdisciplinary system. The green culture, or sustainability of the human development, is expressed in the environmental-economical-social field. It’s like saying that the wellbeing and development (economy) have to be pursued compatibly with the environmental protection and the social equity. And this is an established fact on a global level. To ease this path towards innovation in production and consume, a series of professions specialized in research, consulting, production of materials and support instruments were created. Their contribution can be fundamental to start in the right way.
2. A bit of (very recent) history
The promotion of the culture of sustainability in the last twenty years was mostly entrusted to great institutions such as the United Nations. It’s only been in the last few years that people started talking, more practically, about green events, with the diffusion of guidelines, manuals, certifications and voluntary standards for the meeting industry, the venues (for exhibitions and conventions), the services and their clients (institutions and companies). The main examples are the “UNEP Green meeting guide 2009” guidelines to created United Nations meetings with a lesser production of waste and a better energetic efficiency and the “BSI 8901 (2007)” inspired by the organizational rules for the 2012 Olympic Games, that provides a more sustainable managing model. We can see how the big events have been the first to invest time for and put an effort into the achievement of green results.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games of London 2012 produced their own guidelines (London sustainable guidelines), the Winter Games of Vancouver 2010 (VANOC 2010) created an interactive platform (Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit Set – SSET) to evaluate and direct the sustainability of the event, the international EXPOs are working on their sustainability policies. These are events that achieve great results on the matter of the quality and sustainability of their products and services, with enormous investments for the visibility and great marketing needs. But they rose from the North American and North European culture, who are on the cutting edge of the sustainability policies.
3. Even us, in our own small way…
Anyway, also in Italy things are starting to change: big events such as the Biennale in Venice or the Salone del Gusto (Slow Food) in Turin voluntarily chose to act on policies of sustainability. On a smaller scale, also in the field of congresses, convention, exhibitions there are “good practices” that have been tested and are spreading quickly. An example could be the “Fiera Compraverde – Buy Green” in Cremona (certified BS 8901), Ecomondo 2010 in Rimini, exhibition for the environmental innovation and sustainability, or the large number of events that compensate their environmental impact buying emission and forestation credits (a questioned practice, though a useful one to help the diffusion of the sustainability principles).
4. And even the Public Administration…
Even our Public Administration decided to promote the sustainability, commissioning and endorsing instrument of support and training for the meeting industry, with the goal of a real reduction of the environmental impact, planning sustainable events from the very beginning. Some example: the APE protocol (Guidelines for the organization of events and seminars with a low environmental impact – 2008) proposed by the Provincia di Torino. The leaflet “Acquisti Pubblici Verdi in Trentino” (Public green purchase in Trentino), guide for the Public Bodies by the Provincia di Trento (2007), the Guidelines for the environmental sustainability of the Regione Lombardia (Executive Decree UO no. 3767/2010) realized according to the norm BSI 8901 with theoretical basic notions and simple operational suggestions that can easily be applied. All of these instruments are diffused for free (except for the norm BSI 8901) by institutions and public bodies, and everyone agrees in affirming the importance of a unified approach, against the temptation of single actions that can’t easily be correlated.
5. One goal, different tasks
The systemic planning of objectives related to sustainability offers the advantage of having communicable results: for example the quantity of energy saved thanks to the use of more efficient devices and buildings, the use of electric and thermal energy produced by renewable sources or the cuts in carbon dioxide emissions thanks to the dematerialization of the communications or to the choice of sustainable mobility solutions, etc.
With sustainable policies that establish trackable targets and results it is possible to provide reliable information and gain credibility. Of course some macro-objectives can only be achieved by the venues and not by the single organizers. That’s why the first step for a sustainable event should be to choose a “green” venue. There are resources and circuits for that. We’ll talk about this in the next article.