For meeting planners, the bar has been set higher for their events’ sustainability and engagement. It’s not enough for an event to come off without a hitch. Today’s events must display environmental integrity without compromising engagement and entertainment value. By applying best eco-friendly practices in conjunction with the latest event technologies, planners are boosting overall performance and approval ratings of their events.

Benchmarking the Current Eco-State of Today’s Events
Meeting planners have been fairly transparent regarding their events’ sustainability. The independent Swiss-based global agency MCI, whose mission is to provide ideas and solutions that empower associations and companies, found that 78 percent of its biggest customers reported some sustainable event activity; however, less than 10 percent had a comprehensive sustainability strategy. Of 106 respondents to a sustainability survey by a meetings industry publication, only 28 percent had green policies in place for all of their events, 47 percent had policies for some of their events and 25 percent had no such policies for their events. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is looking to change these figures through its ISO 20121:2012 Event Sustainability Management Systems – Requirements with Guidance for Use. Intended to be a practical
tool for managing events, the standard promotes three dimensions of sustainability: economic, environmental and social, attainable through best practices such as:
• Defining governing principles of sustainable
• Establishing a document policy,
• Assigning and communicating roles and
• Establishing and implementing a process
for operational control and supply chain
In addition to ISO recommendations, basic
best practices that every meeting planner can
follow include:
• Using digital communications instead of
• Providing recycling stations for paper and
plastic refuse
• Replacing water bottles with water stations
• Donating remaining meeting materials such
as notepads and pens to local schools or
• Sourcing event food/refreshments from local
vendors to minimize transportation impacts
on the environment
• Renting event technologies instead of buying,
reducing transport and storage-related environmental impacts
• Measuring benefits of each event’s sustainability practices in terms of reduced carbon footprint and cost savings

Some of these practices are easily attainable and greatly enhanced with the application of various event technologies, ranging from event management software and mobile apps to digital signage, LED displays, video walls and interactive technologies.

Eco-Friendly, Engaging Event Technologies
Meeting planners can leverage technologies to manage all aspects of an event, eliminating unnecessary paper documents and the associated carbon footprint they leave behind. Event registration, check-in and badge printing, and lead retrieval software are all readily available to rent. There are also mobile event apps to drive high levels of attendee engagement using push notifications, online surveys and ondemand access to videos, podcasts, content, and other event-related communications. Environmentally friendly, high-engagement
audience response systems can be used to elicit instant feedback, which then can be applied in real-time to further build rapport and communicate with and entertain attendees with meaningful content and messaging.
LED, QLED and 4K displays capture the attention of attendees, creating a real impact with captivating visual storytelling and information. When touch-screen technology is added, even more powerful engagement is created. Video walls can be used for a Twitter wall and live streaming to drive engagement across social networks, building followers and excitement for presentations, and kiosks promote high engagement and entertainment value with a low carbon footprint profile. They can be used for event registration, easy access to event schedules and floor plans.

Reducing Waste
If you need any more incentive for promoting sustainable events, consider this sobering data from Repurpose America:
Trade show/convention attendees generate an estimated 600,000 tons of trash annually. The 60 million individuals who attend trade shows annually each generate 20 pounds of waste, adding up to more than 1 billion pounds of waste.

Looked at another way, reports that, over a three-day period, 1,000 event attendees will produce 125,000 pounds of waste – the equivalent of four compact cars. Implementing strategic policies and incorporating relevant technology solutions can help us all do our part to minimize the impact of today’s meetings and events.

Randy Bailey is a Senior Solution Sales Executive with SmartSource, specializing in technology rental solutions for client meetings and events. SmartSource® Computer & Audio Visual Rentals (, Powered by ABCOMRENTS, is a national provider of computer, audio visual (AV) and technology solutions for businesses and events