As the Content Owner for PDC2008, I'm now a member of the Tier 1 Events Council at Microsoft. This is a group that meets a few times a year to share ideas and best practices around our largest events (like Tech·Ed , MIX, and PDC). We met all day today and covered a number of great topics.
One of our sessions was titled Environmentally Sustainable Events Initiative, and it was presented by Gina Broel and Jessica Ludders. We discussed what it means to be a "green" event based on the Green Meeting Industry Council. According to the council, a green meeting incorporates environmental considerations to:
- Achieve economic and strategic business goals
- Minimize or eliminate environmental impacts
- Positively contribute to the environment and host communities
We love to measure, benchmark, and assign metrics to just about everything we do at this company, and environmental sustainability is no different. We've looked at things like the amount of waste generated by our events, the amount of uneaten food and scraps that are discarded, and tangible items like plastic water bottles, attendee bags, and other giveaways that aren't used. We'll use metrics to measure and track how much we improve the situation year over year.
For an example of some work that is already being done, check out Tech·Ed's Environmental Sustainability Efforts. And if you attended MIX08 in Las Vegas, you probably saw the bag that Tim Aidlin designed from recycled materials.
For PDC2008, we're back at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This past month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized the Los Angeles Convention Center (PDF) as an “Earth-Friendly” Green Venue, and their Food Services went green (PDF) late last year.
In today's meeting, I was fascinated to learn that the hotels we use for our events report finding bags and backpacks that have been left behind by our conference attendees. It made sense when I thought about it: you bring your stuff to the event in last year's backpack, and because you receive a brand new backpack at this year's event, you "upgrade" and leave the old bag behind since it won't easily fit in your luggage. This caused me to wonder:
- How important is it to receive a branded bag or backpack at PDC2008? Would you be disappointed if you didn't receive one? For MIX06 and MIX07, we didn't hand out big bags, and I don't recall anyone giving us feedback that they were disappointed.
- As an attendee, would you be willing to pay an optional additional fee to help us make the conference more environmentally sustainable? This is my own crazy idea, by the way. But it's driven by the feedback that attendees would like us to be more green, and this is one way that might make it even more doable.
I'd love to hear your feedback. If you have any other suggestions about how PDC2008 can do more for the environment, please leave a comment to this blog post. Last, if you'd like to submit your ideas to our council, you can send e-mail to email@example.com.
Update: We just launched a new site that talks about Microsoft's environmental sustainability efforts.