The congressional field is getting more and more interested in the green, but often that only results in some energetic savings. What does the client gain with that?
1. Environmentally sustainable, in what sense?
Why should a client who’s organizing an event care if a hotel consumes less water with the aerators inside the taps or if it cuts its energy consumption switching its incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent ones? Of course, these are both good practices that will give a certain environmentalist shine, but they are mostly convenient for the hotel and don’t really change the quality of the stay. On the contrary, some of these even make it worse, for example making the illumination livid and flat, even if cheaper.
If your event is about environmental themes and you want to choose a green hotel, I would advise you to ask some questions about the benefits that the eco-features of that hotel can offer to the participants of the event: a real sustainability can’t be all about energy savings (which are very important) at the expense of the wellness of the human beings.
Just a word on bioarchitecture: it is the discipline that projects spaces that are environmentally sustainable in all of their aspects, starting from the health and wellbeing of those who have to spend their time there and from the reasons for which that space is used. It ensures that the materials used are non toxic and safe. It worries about the electromagnetic pollution (dangerous because it cannot be perceived with the 5 senses), about the physiology of the heating/conditioning system (wellbeing and health, not only measured in Celsius degrees), the illumination, the colour of the walls and all that concerns the person in the concept of the space. A receptive structure (hotel, congress centre, location, etc) that claims to be green has to be able to demonstrate to the client the positive consequences of its being green and how an event can take advantage of them. For example the acoustics and colours have to obtain an opposite effect in a bed room and in a meeting room, help to relax in the first case, sharpen the attention and energy in the other.
3. Easy peasy interventions
You can start verifying the green qualities out of pure common sense: many meeting rooms are build in the basements and don’t have natural light nor direct air exchange. There’s no illumination nor conditioning technology that may change the simple truth: in such a room people would feel more uneasy than in a room with big windows in direct sunlight, maybe slightly open for a natural and healthy air exchange. In such a room there will be the problem of the excess of light and maybe heat from the sun, but simple awnings outside the windows (not indoor!) to create a shade and curtains inside to create darkness when the projector will be used, will create a comfortable light and temperature and, by the way, will dramatically reduce the costs for the conditioning system. Easy and cheap! A green venue can’t neglect the food. Insist on having biological local products: not only you’ll be eating healthy food but you’ll discover delicious specialties that aren’t usually served by regular catering services. Offer the chef the chance to show how good he is!
4. Sophisticated interventions
Technology helps: it’s true that now a days LED illumination can help saving up to 7 times the energy consumed by the incandescent lamps, but it also allows to modify the temperature through the colour (Kelvin degrees), which on its part conditions the secretion of some endocrine glands that modify our mood, the concentration and even our attitude towards socialization. If the same room has to be used both for a meeting and a dinner it should provide different illumination possibilities.
A heating system that radiates from the floor requires an important renovation but offers a wonderful sensation of wellness, not even comparable to the one offered by the old radiators or the forced air systems. If that wasn’t enough, it cuts down to costs of the 30%, which is never bad. That concerns the hotel and its costs but the benefits will be enjoyed by you and the participants to your event.
To obtain results this important a venue has to invest money, energy and resources in it: it is then its right to promote those features that makes it different and to claim a competitive position. The same claim should be avoided by those venues whose only environmental effort is to provide notebooks made of recycled paper.
A closer examination of the environmental sustainability would require even an analysis of the grid system of Hartmann and Curry (potentially dangerous earth energies) or a verification of the materials, if those used for the interiors are free of formaldehyde and if the insulating materials are transpiring. It’s impossible to pretend that a client enquires this deeply, but there’s an institute (www.istitutoieti.it) that after a number of indoor analysis certifies that a structure is receptive on the basis of the environmental quality perceived by the client, and not on how much it saves compared to the precedent managements. Try and ask if your green hotel has such a certification…
6. “Human” environmental sustainability
As you can see, the interventions for a “human” environmental sustainability can be very different, some complicated and some very easy, and the list could be extremely long. But what interests the client is the aim of those intervention: who do they favour? If the hotelier only thought about cutting its costs, the client won’t care much of that boasted “green” features. Consider this.