Events Go Green

By Leah Wirgau

Posted May 16, 2019

If you've seen our events calendar, you know we have a lot going on - tours, codes trainings, happy hours, conferences, building standards workshops, and more! 

Why does Green Building United have so many events?

As underscored by our mission, education is critical for achieving positive change for the environment, the economy, and society. By connecting the community with experts working in energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, green stormwater infrastructure, resilience, codes changes, waste and recycling, and other sustainability fields, we are growing the knowledge and skills needed for on-the-ground action.

Members have also highlighted educational and networking events as what most excite them about Green Building United – and we couldn't agree more!

But with great events comes much responsibility - for each event, we consider a variety of factors that have the potential to impact the planet. We are not perfect, but we are getting better. It's about catalyzing change through our everyday decisions, no matter how big or small. 

Here are some ways we are reducing our event impacts: 

2018 symposium event registration name tags 01 01

We reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle, and compost whenever possible.

We use attendee numbers and records of past years' material usage to print only what we think will be used. Our programs are printed on 100% recycled stock and can also be accessed online. You've seen us collect name tags at the end of events – we then recycle the paper (or use as note cards) and reuse the holders. We also compost food scraps whenever allowed by the venue or catering company.

compostable cutlery 01

We invest in compostable materials.

You may have noticed that you have to throw away the plates, cups, and cutlery at our events, so how is that more sustainable than recycling? The products we purchase are biobased, typically from corn, and the reason they are not ultimately composted, is because our region currently lacks the appropriate processing facilities. But by purchasing biobased, compostable products, we are demonstrating a demand for these items, and therefore a demand for facilities that can process them. 

vegan gluten free sushi

We select food options that are primarily vegetarian and vegan.

The production of meat and cheese for consumption causes deforestation, water pollution, habitat loss, and carbon emissions. Choosing meat-free and dairy-free foods drastically reduces our negative impact, and the offerings are incredibly tasty!

We do our best to accommodate dietary needs as well, including nut-free and grain-free, and sometimes the selection is limited, which means you may still see meat and cheese on the table.

indego bike tour 01

We consider venue location and offer as many travel options as possible. 

  • Biking
  • Walking
  • Taking public transit
  • Carpooling if taking personal vehicles 
this event is green 01

We offset event carbon emissions.

When you've registered for our events, have you noticed we ask how you plan to travel? We have partnered with WGL Energy who uses this and other information to offset the emissions from our events. In 2018, our offsets represented a reduction of 124 tons of carbon emissions, which had an environmental benefit equivalent to taking 26 cars off the road for one year. 

We are always looking for ways to improve, so if you have an idea on how we can green our events even more, please share them with Leah Wirgau, Education & Engagement Director.

Together, we can make a difference, one event at a time.  

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