Greener, Earth-Friendlier Meetings

Conference venues step up to help create greener meetings.

It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that those in the industry of caring for pets would also be the type to care passionately about the planet. And that’s exactly the case at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas.

“We don’t print any proceedings for our conference at all—it’s all digital,” says Manolita Moore, MBA, WVC’s Chief Operating Officer. “We recycle our badges and our trash. About 80 to 90 percent of our waste is recycled.”

So when WVC learned about Mandalay Bay’s green initiative program, it was a perfect pairing. “It’s a big thing that attracted us [to Mandalay Bay],” she says. “They are very strong on that, and we love the fact that they recycle the majority of our waste.” Eco-friendly activities, Moore says, are a top priority for WVC. “It’s one of our initiatives that we always try to get involved with.”

“Green Advantage” is a significant initiative for MGM Resorts International in both the hotels and convention centers, with a variety of efforts underway, such as reducing the frequency that towels are washed, switching to fluorescent bulbs, purchasing organic food products and recycling everything from paper and aluminum to cooking oil and ink cartridges.

In fact, 15 of MGM’s properties have received Green Key ratings from the Green Key Eco-Rating Program, which evaluates sustainable hotel operations. ARIA, Bellagio, Vdara Hotel & Spa and Mandalay Bay achieved the “5 Green Key” status for efforts to minimize the effects of energy and water consumption, transportation, food and beverage, paper recycling and more. This highest rating was achieved by only seven of the 103 properties involved in the Green Key program. MGM’s other 11 participating properties scored a “4 Green Key” rating.

Here are just a few ways the MGM properties are working to protect the environment and increase conservation efforts:

MGM Grand is literally eliminating tons of waste by using package-free kitchen washing products, which eliminate 1 ton annually, and recycling 50 tons of phone books and magazines every year.

  • At Mandalay Bay, herbs are grown on-property and the resort and convention center have reduced water consumption by 59 million gallons each year since 2007.
  • CityCenter, with its 700,000 square feet of conference space, residential towers, shopping district and ARIA Resort, is a U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold award certificate recipient. Its green, water-smart design saves almost 50 million gallons of water annually and has set the standard for green building for properties of this scale.
  • Limousines at The Mirage and Bellagio utilize compressed natural gas, making them 15 percent more efficient and 40 percent cheaper to operate than gasoline-fueled cars.

Environmental sustainability, in its many varied forms, is just one way that MGM Resorts is working to be a responsible corporate citizen. Other ongoing efforts include diversity, inclusion, philanthropy and community engagement.

Six Tips For Greener Meetings

  1. Instead of using multiple reams of paper to copy countless handouts, programs and agendas, provide attendees with USB drives already loaded with the materials. This saves trees, allows planners to make last-minute changes and attendees can reuse the thumb drives later.
  2. Other tech-savvy, Earth-saving ideas to try: paperless registration (offer a nominal discount for attendees who opt for this) or a mobile meeting app to inform and engage participants (QuickMobile and EventMobi are two customizable options).
  3. Ask if the venue uses locally grown produce in meals or, better yet, has a garden on-site. Incorporate them into the meeting menu.
  4. Serving water in pitchers instead of plastic bottles at a three-day conference shaves up to $12,000 off the budget, according to the Green Meeting Industry Council.
  5. Use hotel shuttles, carpools or even public transportation to get attendees to the conference site, or book at a hotel/convention all-in-one resort.
  6. Opt for meeting spaces that have lots of natural light streaming from windows, rather than closed-in rooms solely reliant on artificial light. “[At ARIA], they have a lot of natural light coming into the convention center, so that’s a nice feature to have,” says Tom Anderson, CMP, Director of Conferences and Events for the Technology Services Industry Association. “You feel more at ease when you’re in a natural-light situation than you do when you’re in a dark and dingy confined environment.”
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