Site Global Conference 2013 Leaves a Legacy in Orlando
During the Site Global Conference 2013 in December in Orlando, Florida USA, Site took deliberate steps towards greater event sustainability by moving beyond simply incorporating a community outreach project in their conference to expanding farther into Social Responsibility and Environmental Responsibility. The Conference Host Committee engaged with the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) for support and assistance and established a sustainability mission statement, “Site Global will focus on creating a socially responsible and sustainable conference benchmarking its efforts for continual improvement in future years.”
With the support of the GMIC Florida/Caribbean Chapter and venue and transportation services companies a sustainability committee was formed under the leadership of Conference Host Committee Co-Chair Francis Purvey, assisted by Katherine Manfredi, a noted planner, speaker and writer on events and sustainability. Special recognition and appreciation for their leadership and knowledge goes to Abby Gulden, Sustainability Coordinator at the Orange County Convention Center and GMIC Florida/Caribbean board member and Dina Belon-Sayre, LEED AP ID&C and Executive Director for Green Destination Orlando.
Site built on their precedent of dedicating time during the Global Conference to conduct a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project to give back to the hosting community. In addition to fundraising efforts, Site incorporated several additional CSR and community outreach projects including an onsite project and gift donation drive, as well as up-cycling partially used guest room soaps and amenities from the headquarters hotel. Not-for-profit organizations and hotels partnered with Site to provide life- saving hygiene products to local shelters and worldwide. In addition the headquarters hotel donated leftover food to a local charitable organization, and conference materials and amenities were collected from delegates and donated to those in need by the Site Florida & Caribbean chapter.
Other important elements of the event included efforts to purchase locally in support of community members and businesses and support of the educational development of students through the Site Young Leaders Conference and scholarships. Collaborative efforts resulted in approximately 37 hours of community service, supporting at least six local charities, helping 3,762 children and families through amenities and hygiene kits, and assisting many more through the donations of gifts, food, conference materials and cash.
Site took steps in specific efforts to benchmark and achieve a greener Global Conference, with the support of the local Site and GMIC chapters, as well as sponsors, suppliers and venues. Results include an estimated avoidance of 4,800 plastic bottles of water, approximately 12.5% of food from the headquarters hotel and 20% from the gala venue procured from 12 local farmers and producers within 180 miles, a total of 1,215.2 pounds diverted from waste, and energy efficiency of pre-conference tour transportation benchmarked at 133 passenger mpg of fuel.
Additionally, Site was able to reduce paper use by utilizing a mobile app and made efforts to be more environmentally responsible with signage using more eco-friendly materials and donating the signage for reuse as well as engaging predominantly local entertainment.
Leaving a Legacy
By demonstrating and communicating the many ways we can be more mindful of the impact events have on host communities Site hopes to motivate Site Members and other industry professionals to take greater steps in their own sustainability journeys. Perhaps one of the most important legacies we leave in Orlando is with the students and the host committee, conference suppliers and community partners. One member stated that after being part of the process she would now look at events with new eyes, seeking more ways to be greener and contribute to the local community.
Site would like to thank and recognize the following major sustainability supporters: Site Florida & Caribbean Chapter, GMIC/Florida Caribbean, Green Destination Orlando, Visit Orlando, Green Meeting Industry Council and Florida Green Lodging.
We would also like to thank the following sponsors and supporters for their contributions to the Site Global Conference 2013 Sustainability initiatives:
Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel Universal Orlando
Rosen Shingle Creek
Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin
Hyatt Regency, Orlando
Hello! Destination Management
Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB
Christie’s Photographic Solutions
UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management
Children’s Home Society of Florida
Clean the World
My Neighbor’s Children