Step 2: Take Action and Build Some Green Cred!

brave-new-world-0810The first step towards sustainability, as we explored last month, is the creation of a plan. This is followed by action, report and shout! The next step we’ll discuss, taking action to implement the plan, can be a risky undertaking. One of the best ways to ensure you’re following the correct procedure is to engage appropriate standards.

In order to provide the most streamlined information, I will split the action segment of the column into two parts. One for the integrated systems side, and one for the rental and staging organizations. This month we’ll look at the standards most applicable for the R&S folks. At this point in time, the two standards that will be most useful for R&S are the ASTM/APEX Green Meeting Standards and BS8901 (to eventually become ISO 20121).

The ASTM Green Meeting Standards are a checklist, event-oriented set of standards that will define an environmentally-sustainable event. Based on nine sectors of meetings, conventions and exhibitions, AV is included as a sector (possibly for the first time ever). It is important to note that a R&S company cannot become certified under these standards without being a supplier participant in the event. The standards are entirely event-based, meaning that you cannot be an ASTM certified company.

Of particular interest is that these standards were peer-developed and approved, but received extensive interest and collaboration from sustainability experts across an extremely broad range of industries. This included chemists, construction professionals, consultants, government officials and more. The final result will be a set of standards that are practical and applicable for any AV company, whether they have green meeting experience or not.

The way the standards are designed, a final score is tallied based on the performance of both a supplier and planner. This ensures both parties are doing their part to create a green event. For more information on the E60.02 Subcommittee’s work, you can visit the ASTM website here. The standards are expected to be finalized in the next month.

The next standard of interest to the R&S industry is BS8901. BS8901 was originally created in an effort to create a system for planning a sustainable event in advance of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Unlike the ASTM standards, BS8901 is an Environmental Management System, or EMS. Much like ISO 14001, the EMS is a set of procedures and processes that are customized for each organization. BS8901 is not a checklist, but the EMS might dictate that a standard such as ASTM be part of the process to create an environmentally sustainable event.

Also different from ASTM, a company can achieve certification without ever being involved a single event. This is because the organization has put a set of processes in place prior to supplying an event. This could be particularly useful for the AV company looking to build its credibility and knowledge without yet having experienced a green meeting. For more information, visit the BSi website here. (It is important to note that the BS8901:2009 standard is the basis for the new ISO 20121 standard under development globally, so experience gained with BS8901 will be extremely useful.)

I encourage you to take a look at these two standards as an excellent way to take action towards sustainability. They will guide you along the path so you can be well prepared to next report and then shout about your sustainable program.

midori-connolly-0810Midori Connolly is CEO and Chief AVGirl of Pulse Staging & Events, Inc. in Escondido, California. She wrote the first-ever set of Sustainable Staging guidelines after discovering none existed. She is the vice-chair of the AV committee for the U.S. EPA’s Green Meetings Standards and regularly speaks and writes about corporate social responsibility and green practices in live events and meeting planning. Reach her at midori@pulsestaging.com