Hetal Shah, Associate, Conference, BSR
With the BSR Conference 2014 just around the corner, we wanted to share a behind-the-scenes look at how we’ve made our annual event more environmentally sustainable. Although large events cannot fully eliminate waste and other sustainability challenges, we’ve focused on efficient use of energy and water, adjustments in our menu, and reduction of printed materials to minimize the footprint of our annual event.
Energy and Water
To reduce energy and water waste, we’ve partnered with the Grand Hyatt New York, which is one of only three hotels in the city with a “Green” certification from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Energy-saving practices include paperless checkout, low-energy lighting, and low-flow water fixtures, which can save about three gallons of water each day per participant. This translates to about 360 loads of wash saved over the course of the Conference.
We also encourage participants to use the major public transportation options nearby. We understand, however, that some emissions are unavoidable, so we offset 100 percent of the carbon emissions generated by travel and facility use during the Conference.
Food and Beverage
We create our menu based on what is fresh, sustainable, and, when possible, local and organic. Last year, we served more than 100 gallons of organic, shade-grown coffee in non-disposable cups, which saved 112 pounds of waste from the landfill each day of the Conference. Also in 2013, we served two vegetarian lunches, conserving 200,000 gallons of water. We sourced 90 percent of all meal ingredients from within 100 miles of the venue; 70 percent of produce, meat, and dairy were certified organic; and we served no tropical fruit. These efforts reduced carbon emissions and supported local farms. We also saved more than 5,000 water bottles from the landfill by eliminating them from the event altogether.
Communications and Registration
We have committed to producing only one paper pre-Conference communication—our printed invitation—which uses 100-percent-recycled fiber and 50-percent-post-consumer-waste paper. As a result, BSR saved about 4.3 million BTUs of energy (enough to power a home for one year) and more than 400 pounds of solid waste.
During the event, all onsite signage uses reusable materials and 100-percent post-consumer-recycled-content paper, which is the equivalent of taking one car off the road for an entire year. We replaced our printed program with a mobile app, and now save 22 million BTUs of energy, about 11,000 gallons of water, and about 4,000 pounds of greenhouse gases each year. We further reduced printed waste throughout the Conference by eliminating plastic badge holders, tote bags, giveaways, and the traditional exhibition hall.
As we work to create the most sustainable event, we’re inviting you to collaborate with us. Easy first steps include asking your company to buy carbon offsets for your flight, choosing rideshare and public transportation alternatives, or opting for vegetarian meals. With your partnership, we hope that we will continue to improve and push the envelope on sustainable events.
The BSR Conference 2014: Transparency and Transformation will take place in New York November 4-6. Register by September 30 to take advantage of discounted rates.