Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

Giving Back: ‘A Green Meeting On Steroids’

by Michelle Russell | Dec 19, 2012

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre managed to surpass its own high average waste-diversion level - and exceed the U.S. Green Building Council’s expectations - when it hosted Greenbuild 2011.

It goes without saying: If you bid on Greenbuild - the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) international conference and exposition—you’d better have a really green building.

“Greenbuild does not want to be associated with a non-green facility,” said Vince Quattrociocchi, vice president of operations for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC),which was “heavily vetted” before being chosen to host Greenbuild 2011 on Oct. 4–7. The world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to eco-friendly buildings, it’s “a green meeting on steroids,” he said. Even though its facility already met USGBC’s high sustainability standards, the MTCC staff took on the meeting as a challenge to “step it up to the next level,” said Vivian Fleet,MTCC’s sustainability coordinator.

Light Footprint

With 23,000-plus attendees and 1,700 booths, Greenbuild 2011 had the potential to leave a heavy footprint. MTCC’s new and improved initiatives dramatically reduced the conference’s environmental impact—and positioned the facility to offer a higher level of sustainability for events it hosts going forward. These included:

Composting(BOL)—MTCC installed a new composting unit on its north loading dock, right outside the kitchen facility, which, Fleet said, makes it easy for kitchen scraps coming straight from the kitchen, as well as any scrapings from plates at the end of a meal, to go into the composting unit. The unit can take up to 2,200 pounds of organic material on a daily basis, and broke down 8,021 pounds of food waste during Greenbuild.

Quattrociocchi said that the center had been “looking into [installing the EnviroPure composting system] just before Greenbuild came in,” as it represented “a great opportunity to expand our green programs.” Plans were fast-tracked to make sure the system was in place and operating when Greenbuild was in the building—which, Quattrociocchi said, “obviously made them very happy.”

Carpet recycling(BOL)—“One of my favorite stories that came out of Greenbuild,” Fleet said, “was that there was a vendor on the floor who was just opening up a carpet-recycling facility in the west end of the city, which was the first one in Canada. It was really amazing to find him and actually work with him right away.” By using the vendor’s new, high tech carpet-recycling system, MTCC was able to divert 4,465 pounds of carpet used at Greenbuild from land fills.

Waste management(BOL)—MTCC has had a zero waste program in place since 2005, which has produced a high 86-percent average diversion rate. Through its new initiatives and increased scrutiny —waste streams were carefully checked both on the show floor by Greenbuild volunteers and at the loading docks by dock monitors to ensure that waste was properly sorted and placed in the right compactor - MTCC was able to surpass its own historical diversion rates. Achieving an audited 95-percent diversion rate, it beat USGBC’s goal by five points. Hosting Greenbuild so successfully has raised MTCC’s environmental profile. “If a customer is looking to hold green meetings,” Quattrociocchi said, “we have the proven product; we can do it. We exceeded Greenbuild’s expectations - I mean, that says so much.”

‘We’re Learning, and We’re Growing’

USGBC’s goal is to have Greenbuild exceed its own sustainability levels year over year, said Kimberly Lewis, USGBC’s vice president of conferences and events. “Every year [when]we enter a destination,” she said, “we set goals and objectives up front that will establish that we’re doing better, we’re learning, and we’re growing.” But“ creating good performance for Greenbuild” —which celebrated its 10th anniversary in Toronto


At Greenbuild 2011, a conference sustainability display educated attendees about the composition of all the materials that were brought into the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). “It really gave people a hands-on understanding of what it means to bring together a show of this size with over 20,000 attendees from over 124 different countries,” USGBC’s Kimberly Lewis said. “When people [came to Greenbuild], they wanted to know how we were managing all of this so that we were doing a good job of preserving Toronto’s [sustainability efforts].”

The posters illustrated how all of the food that was being sold at MTCC was served with biodegradable and compostable materials, including the cutlery, coffee cups - and lids. “We were lucky enough to find coffee lids that were able to withstand boiling hot liquids and be safe,” said MTCC’s Vivian Fleet, “as well as environmentally friendly.”

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