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April 16, 2012

Green events in Montréal

With a new partnership with the Québec Sustainable Event Council (CQEER), the Montréal Convention Center (roof garden pictured below) is rolling out new packaged initiatives for event planners looking to host green events. We spoke with Amélie Asselin, advisor, communications and public affairs, and Mario Poirier, director of building management about what meeting planners can expect from the venue. 


“We’ve been doing green events for a few years now,” explains Asselin. “Our major turning point was the UN Conference on Climate Change in 2005. The approach we’ve been having with customers is a personalized approach, where we do small steps with our customers to green the events as we go to make sure that we answer their needs and budget. We decided one to two years ago to change the approach and develop green packages, and at that point we started to look for a partner to help with that.”


The Convention Center had already been collaborating with the CQEER on developing the Québec Responsible Event Management Standard, and that collaboration made them a natural choice to help the Convention Center develop the packages, Asselin says. The new packages, which focus on different themes like greenhouse gas emissions or waste management, tie together many of the services the Convention Center had already been offering in a clearer presentation for event planners. 


There are three major levels to the packages, Poirier says. “The first one was just to give the incentive to our customer to join what we were already doing in the greening of the building and event, and we call it Eco-Access. The second level is Eco-Boost, and it goes a little bit further. The third level is Eco-Summit for customers who want to go as far as a business can.”


The Convention Center’s green events packages cover a variety of environmental and social actions aimed at sustainability, including food selection, suppliers, composting, management of energy resources and water, reduction of residual waste, hazardous waste management and air quality. 


When asked about the sort of clients that would be interested in a sustainable event, Asselin responds, “We actually have really different events that are going green. We have small events, reunions one day that are doing some actions. International Polar Year is taking the Québec certification for their event, and we also have a consumer show that is a green event for a few years now, it’s about healthy eating and green living, and so it is part of their mission to do a green event.”


“The corporate market is a large market for green events because lots of big corporations have a good orientation concerning sustainability,” Poirier points out. “In Québec we can think about the bank, which is really involved in greening events…and all those large corporations, they are really interested in having green events, it is part of their image.”


Asselin and Poirier recommend that meeting planners interested in creating a sustainable event start the planning process early, especially if they want to achieve a certification. Certification, however, can pay dividends: running a certified event allows event planners to communicate their sustainability commitment beforehand, which can be an attendance-building tool.  


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