Be Just. Be Green.

Green Conferences: Planners 'Team Up' for Sustainable Success

Green Conferences: Planners 'Team Up' for Sustainable Success
Green team members from UUA and UMWomen prepare to tour a local composting facility.

Going “green” with your event can be tough if you’re acting on your own. The Unitarian Universalists Association’s (UUA) director of general assembly and conference services, Janiece Sneegas, and United Methodist Women’s event management planners, Sarah Brockus and Tonya Cameron, teamed up for their 2013 and 2014 events at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky, to increase sustainability.

How did it happen and what resulted?


Step 1: UUA invites United Methodist Women to join its site visit of local recycling and composting plants.

The trip connected event organizers with facility managers and haulers who would be handling waste from both events. This allowed organizers to see that waste was being responsibly disposed of and also established relationships that would improve waste programs during the planning process—so much so that both events successfully diverted over 10 metric tons of waste from landfill! This was made possible by expanded front of house recycling and a new composting program at the KICC.

Step 2: Sharing lessons learned.

UUA’s General Assembly was held 10 months before United Methodist Women’s Assembly, presenting a great opportunity to build on successes. MeetGreen, sustainability consultants for both events, shared important information that helped United Methodist Women prevent unanticipated issues, including recommended design and placement of bins as well as volunteer waste teams.

Step 3: Growing the foundation.

Although United Methodist Women now includes sustainability expectations up front for their Assembly, Assembly 2014 did not have pre-established guidelines when contracts were signed. Even so, United Methodist Women collaborated with venue green teams established for UUA’s event to request similar green meeting practices piloted by the convention center catering and management staff during the earlier event. United Methodist Women also trained green volunteers to assist with attendee education. This enabled improved waste management to an extent that would not have otherwise been possible working alone.

Step 4: Sharing thanks! And event legacies.

Sustainability successes for both events would not have been possible without collaborating with the event team at the Kentucky International Convention Center. In appreciation, partner suppliers are recognized in both UUA’s MeetGreen case study (opens in a new window at uua.org) and MeetGreen’s Assembly 2014 report (PDF opens in a new window.) This has helped practices “stick.” For example, UUA has received feedback from the convention center that their event helped to improve local food sourcing for events overall, including the Future Farmers of America conference held in fall 2014. United Methodist Women has also learned that the convention center is permanently switching to compostable serviceware by end of 2014. In addition, United Methodist Women has permanently added sustainable criteria to their destination selection and contracting process.

The power is in hands of the planner. Imagine what we all could accomplish if we team up!

For more ways to plan sustainable events, visit www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/environment.

Related article:
United Methodist Women Gets Great Scores on its First Ever “Be Just. Be Green” Assembly!

Posted or updated: 12/4/2014 11:00:00 PM

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Signs explain how to reduce, reduce, recycle effectively.
Signage and recycling station design tips from Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly were shared with United Methodist Women.

Volunteers help sort compostable and recyclable waste
Volunteers at Assembly 2014 help educate attendees about how to sort waste.

Composting in a commercial kitchen


Kitchen composting by Centerplate helps keep food waste from landfill at Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, site of Assembly 2014.

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