Green Operations

Green Fleet Conference Living Up to Its Name

May 2011, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Grace Suizo - Also by this author

General and breakout sessions at the 2010 Green Fleet Conference attracted large crowds. Seats filled fast, leaving “standing room only” for late arrivers.
General and breakout sessions at the 2010 Green Fleet Conference attracted large crowds. Seats filled fast, leaving “standing room only” for late arrivers.

The 2011 Green Fleet Conference, scheduled for Oct. 3-4 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, promises to be the “greenest” it’s ever been. From marketing and promotions to materials used on-site, show organizers have been ramping up efforts to be more environmentally friendly, according to Irene Gruen, event marketing manager for Bobit Business Media (BBM).

“We are working to have a really relevant show. Last year was extremely well-received. Since then, we’ve spent time rethinking our planning. When you’re thinking green, you have to make changes to the operational process on so many levels, and we have focused our efforts to accomplish that,” Gruen said.

The third annual conference in 2010 achieved record attendance, bringing together approximately 450 fleet professionals from both the private and public sectors. Attendees gathered for information-packed conference sessions, many of which were standing-room only.

The 2010 Green Fleet Conference was sponsored in part by TerraPass, a carbon offset provider and the event’s first-ever carbon-balanced sponsor. TerraPass conducted a calculation of the carbon footprint for the conference, based on travel to San Diego from attendee locations, hotel nights, and on-site energy usage. After gathering and calculating the figures, TerraPass retired 100 metric tons of carbon offsets for the Green Fleet Conference — the equivalent of removing a fleet of 22 vehicles (averaging 10,000 miles annually) off the road.

“We hope to improve the calculation for 2011 with our green efforts,” Gruen added.

All About Location

Choosing the right venue was the start to improving green efforts for this year’s event.

The Gaylord Texan is an ecological hotel, featuring four and a half acres of indoor gardens that reflect its commitment to taking care of the environment, which is also demonstrated by several environmental accolades.

In May 2008, the Gaylord Texan received the Sylvania Ecologic Certification Award for transitioning at least 75 percent of all its lighting to environmentally friendly products — more than 7,500 lamps in all.

The Gaylord Texan was also recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2008 with a Membership Award in the EPA’s National Partnership for Environmental Priorities (NPEP). With its efforts to reduce mercury throughout the facility by implementing low-mercury light bulbs, Gaylord Texan became the first hotel in a five-state area to join the NPEP.

The hotel is currently working to attain “Silver” certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. In addition, the Gaylord Texan strives to conserve water and minimize use of air conditioning.

Staying Lean & Green

From start to finish, the 2011 Green Fleet Conference should exceed its green quotient from previous years.

Areas being improved include:

● Marketing. Marketing and promotions for the event will be distributed primarily via electronic means versus direct mail. “Fortunately, technology allows for this type of communication,” Gruen said, adding anything mailed will be on eco-friendly paper. Attendees who aren’t already signed up from last year can opt in for e-mail updates regarding the conference. Updates will also be available in the weekly Green Fleet eNewsletter.

● Handouts. Paper handouts distributed at the show will be limited. Flash drives of presentations will be available.

On top of its own eco-conscious efforts, the Gaylord Texan will be also be able to accommodate BBM’s initiatives to ensure all aspects of the event stick to its green theme. 

● Meals. All meals will be served with china and silverware to reduce the use of conventional disposable materials such as paper and Styrofoam. In addition, the hotel has a “market-inspired” philosophy in menu planning, including organic and sustainable foods bought locally. All Gaylord hotel properties also work with local food banks to donate excess prepared food to local soup kitchens, further helping to reduce waste.

● Recycling. Recycling services will be available during the event, with the hotel providing recycling bins for glass, plastic, and aluminum waste. In addition, cardboard, newspaper, slick paper, and white paper from back-of-house areas and the convention center exhibit hall are all recycled.

● Fuel/transportation. “With fuel costs on the rise, the main focus will be on using less fuel in general. We are finding ways to cope,” Gruen said, noting the conference venue is “like its own city,” reducing the need for attendees to travel off-site during the two-day event. “This year’s sessions will focus on reducing fuel use in general, in addition to alternative fuels. Software, technologies, and practices exist that support fuel reduction efforts and those will be discussed and exhibited at the event.” Exhibitors will include a number of alternative-fuel suppliers, with representatives from the diesel, propane, and natural gas industries on-site. 

Additional information on the 2011 Green Fleet Conference, its speakers and sessions, as well as registration and travel information, can be found online at www.GreenFleetConference.com or by calling (800) 576-8788.

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