Greenbuild Gets Even Greener, Diverts 90.3 Percent of Waste

The 2016 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center exceeded waste diversion goals for both the U.S. Green Building Council and the meeting venue.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo last October kept 90.3 percent of its waste out of the landfill, diverting recyclables and compostable material from the waste stream.

While the Los Angeles Convention Center had a healthy 72 percent waste-diversion rate prior to the conference, USGBC set its sights for Greenbuild’s waste diversion at 85 percent—and its “stretch goal” at 90 percent. The 90.3 percent rate achieved is a record for both LACC the association.

USGBC, LACC, and Informa Exhibitions (which operates Greenbuild) worked together to hit this lofty target. They also collaborated with LACC partners, by converting 200 waste bins to compost bins and adding signs on paper towel dispensers in all restrooms encouraging “compost only” disposal. This meant adjusting practices at both “front of house,” where attendees choose to discard or recycle items, and “back of house,” where items are sorted behind the scenes.

To help make this happen, LACC “implemented a three-stream process to collect all compost in the front of house” and “extended our onsite hand-sorting station (the CURB) to our Kentia loading dock,” said Estella Flores, director of facilities and operations at LACC.

“The breadth and depth of our sustainability practices runs deep, and much of it occurs behind the scenes prior to arriving onsite, though we actively plug these initiatives in our front-facing marketing to drive awareness and engagement of our attendees,” said Lindsay Roberts, group director at Informa Exhibitions.

Because Greenbuild is a conference dedicated to green building and sustainability, finding ways to make its own practices greener makes sense. “Each year, we strive to outperform a facility’s average diversion rate as well as any previous Greenbuild diversion rates,” said USGBC’s VP of Community and Conferences & Events Kate Hurst.

When USGBC begins the waste-planning process, it looks at each convention center’s current operations and baseline diversion rate. “Based on this average rate and past Greenbuild performance, we set a waste diversion goal for the upcoming show as well as a stretch goal to push ourselves,” she said. “Understanding the division of stakeholder roles and responsibilities is key to our success.”

Efforts to push greater greenness resonate with attendees. “Our audience is passionate about sustainability and continuing to propel the green building movement forward, and this level of transparency in our planning and operations efforts is important to our attendees,” Roberts said. “Because our audience is passionate about the green building movement, we find they are supportive of our practices and show a commitment to partner with us through programs like our exhibitor greening guidelines.”

Informa is using this experience to help assess its broader sustainability efforts. “We learn new best practices and lessons each year with Greenbuild that continue to help us improve our own KPIs and benchmarks,” Roberts said. “We document them annually in a comprehensive sustainability report that provides case studies, metrics and progress reports on our efforts as a whole.”

Hurst noted another way that these practices might spread. “As part of the waste-planning process, a comprehensive waste management plan is developed that is left as a legacy with the facility. Our hope is that each facility will continue the procedures put in place during Greenbuild and use it as a selling feature for future clients and meeting planners.”


Allison Torres Burtka

By Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. MORE

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