Planning and holding a green meeting is about to get more accessible thanks to a progressive, corporate-wide greening program from SMG Worldwide, one of the nation’s largest event and convention facility management companies. It recently launched SMG Green Impact, a proactive, comprehensive greening program designed to help SMG-managed facilities initiate or advance their sustainable practices in waste, energy, water, and air quality. SMG Green Impact (an acronym for innovation, mindfulness, participation, accountability, consistency, and transparency) will be available to the company’s 225 venues, including 68 convention centers.
“One of the areas of focus will be making sure all facilities are measuring the same thing and have the same best practices in place, so if an SMG facility says it has recycling, there’s a consistent way they’ll approach and track it,” says Lindsay Arell, sustainability director of the Colorado Convention Center who designed SMG Green Impact, about the program’s emphasis on practicing consistency and uniformity across all participating venues. “It’s nice to see [SMG] taking a proactive approach to creating that consistency and name recognition, so when a planner goes into an SMG facility and recognizes the SMG Green Impact program, [he or she] will have an understanding of how comprehensive that sustainability program is.”
The voluntary program is flexible, allowing individual properties to implement it at whatever level suits their needs. All were inspired to create an in-house, convention-focused sustainability program after witnessing a disconnect between many SMG venues regarding green practices.
“I was seeing a lot of facilities either going for LEED certification or not doing anything at all,” she says. “I think there can be something in-between. This can set the foundation for facilities that want to go for LEED while allowing them to implement sustainable practices without focusing solely on the price tag associated with LEED.”
Besides LEED prerequisites, Arell also based the program’s best practices on the soon-to-be-released CIC/APEX green initiative to prevent conflicts or contradictions for facilities planning to attain environmental certifications. But the goal is to have every SMG-managed facility participating and carrying out its customized efforts, large or small, according to Michael Godoy, SMG executive director of operations.
So far, two SMG convention centers—the Palm Springs (Calif.) Convention Center and the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City—have been selected to serve as pilot facilities for the program, which was entirely in place at the end of September. James Canfield, executive director of the SMG Palm Springs Convention Center and Bureau of Tourism, says the new program is an excellent complement to his facility and the desert city’s progressive sustainability initiatives.
All hopes SMG becomes a leader in implementing sustainable practices. “They’re distinguishing themselves within the hospitality industry by taking such a bold stance on sustainability. I think [SMG Green Impact] has the potential to influence a lot of policy that could make a big difference for the industry.”