10 Tips for Creating a Successful Green Events Team
We recently wrote about why event industry organizations should implement green teams — cross-functional groups that identify and implement ways to help the organization operate in a more environmentally sustainable fashion.
While a green team might typically be internal to one specific organization or venue, in the events world, the best results come from extending those teams to encompass all key stakeholders responsible for executing a specific event. In many cases, while these green teams are still voluntary, the responsibilities are seen as being part of the job function and may not require any additional time outside of the usual work schedule.
According to sustainability tech pioneer and author Bill Roth, there are eight keys that go into making up a successful green team. We used these keys as the basis for our tips on forming green events teams — and included two bonus tips.
- Volunteers: Involve people who care about sustainability and want to help make an impact. That passion will help you drive efforts forward. Megan Warzeniak, director of business development for Key Events, says a top-down approach where sustainability is a core value for the company can help raise interest. For example, every new hire at Key Events completes sustainability training as part of their onboarding to help them understand the impact of green practices.
- Start with low-hanging fruit: Pick easy ways to make change that will get results fast — and get people excited about the additional opportunities. “No idea is too small,” says IMEX Knowledge and Events Senior Executive Milda Salciute. “Pick your battle — whether it’s reducing packaging [for event shipments, giveaways or food service] or minimizing food miles [the distance food travels to reach your plate]!”
- Have an executive sponsor: Even if members of your green team are volunteering their time, it will be seen as an organizational initiative. Having executive backing increases your chance of success, as your efforts will receive more visibility internally (and possibly externally as well).
- Brainstorm, focus, execute: To determine the best ideas to implement, first brainstorm ideas. Then, narrow it down to those that you can tactically execute. Depending on the initiative, this may involve discussions and agreements with partners and suppliers. Finally, gain group consensus on the path forward and make it happen.
- Engage the supply chain: This is crucial to the success of a green events team. No matter how much a single organization does, the most significant impact on communities and the environment lies within the supply chain. Your team — and your events — will be more successful if you include suppliers, such as your event agencies, production companies, caterers, transportation companies and of course venues, within your green team conversations. Claude Molinari, general manager of Detroit’s LEED Gold-certified TCF Center, recommends venues partner with local and industry organizations that are also creating green programs to share best practices and resources.
- Retain experts: Passion goes a long way, but you also need expertise. More organizations are hiring senior staff whose responsibilities are directly focused on sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility. These roles often are a blend of operations, human resources, legal, marketing and financial knowledge — and may also be responsible for creating or leading agreen team. For events, know who to partner with to turn your visions into reality. Want to plan a sustainable event? Look for venues and suppliers that already have the infrastructure and know-how in place to help you be successful.
- Celebrate success: Don’t be afraid of self-promotion. Green teams should share and celebrate their successes to get those within and outside the organization interested in supporting future initiatives. For venues and suppliers, this can be another way to attract new business. For corporations and associations, this type of publicity aids with net promoter scores and positive brand recognition — and can also aid with capturing executive attention.
- Engage senior executives: This is an extension of having an executive sponsor. If you want to effect major change, you may need to make some changes, budget-wise, supplier-wise and organizationally — and you’ll need executive buy-in both within your organization and within those of your partners. To grow green programs faster, Molinari advises looking for funding opportunities and sponsors that will minimize costs for customers.
- Invest in your team’s green future: Warzeniak recommends organizations allow their green teams to invest time in continuing to learn and grow as a team. “One powerful way to do this is by becoming a certified green company through your state,” she says (in Key Events’ case, California). “The process is educational and a great way to keep your team engaged.”
- Don’t be afraid to ask: Salciute emphasizes that you should not feel afraid to ask for anything that will help you achieve your green goals. “The majority of people will want to help you with your sustainability efforts and will be willing to at least listen,” she says. “The worst that can happen is that someone says no.”
Does your organization have a green team in place that drives sustainable event initiatives? We’d love to hear about it. Reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter! Got any sustainability news to share? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!