“It’s Easy Being Green”
Finding an eco-conscious meeting venue is simpler than ever.
Paying attention to the impact we have on the planet has become a mainstream habit. Events like meetings and conferences can result in the generation of large amounts of waste, but there are alternatives: venues that focus on reducing the size of a meeting’s ecological footprint. Thankfully, if you want to host a green meeting in Ohio, you have several options to choose from all over the state. The following facilities take sustainability seriously.
COMMITTED TO THE CAUSE
You’ll notice the difference as soon as you enter the building. The giveaway? No smell. “You come into the building and there are no odors of chemicals in paints, adhesives, or fabrics,” explains General Manager Mark Leahy. As a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold facility, the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland (HCCC) and the adjoining Global Center for Health Innovation (GCHI) set high standards for green meeting venues.
The HCCC – which boasts a 225,000-square-foot exhibition hall, 30 meeting rooms that total more than 50,000 square feet, and a 32,200-square-foot Grand Ballroom divisible into three spaces – focuses on green practices at every level. Their utilization of natural light helps keep the space bright and makes it more conducive for adult learning. Water stations keep attendees hydrated and alert without having to rely on wasteful disposable bottles. They even utilize a cleaning method that physically alters tap water molecules, turning them into a safer cleaning solution that is used throughout the venue.
The GCHI follows similar sustainable practices and has no shortage of meeting space available, including a 10,975-square-foot Global Center Ballroom divisible into two spaces, an 8,200-square-foot Atrium, a 1,762-square-foot Conference Center divisible into three spaces, a 1,755-square-foot Executive Boardroom, and nearly 21,000 square feet of outdoor event space.
Practically any waste from attendees or exhibitors can be recycled. “If an exhibit is left behind, pieces can be dismantled off-site and used for various things,” Leahy says. Sometimes things left behind by conventions are even donated to local non-profit organizations for reuse.
The HCCC and GCHI take farm-to-table to the next level as well by locally sourcing food used for catering from the on-site farm and local growers in the community. Chickens, pigs, vegetables, herbs, and fresh honey are raised and produced on-site and used in the menus.
What can’t be provided by the venue is sourced from farmers in the area who understand the importance of ethical farming practices. “We want to raise advocacy for sustainable farming and the humane treatment of animals on a grander scale,” explains Executive Chef Matt DelRegno. “It’s important to us that we’re doing the right thing.”
Together, the HCCC and GCHI provide meeting planners with nearly 400,000 square feet of prime meeting and event space, and they’re committed to being sustainable facilities that have a lasting positive impact on the community and the planet.
SETTING AN EXAMPLE
Renovated with the environment and sustainability in mind, the Sharonville Convention Center (SCC) is the only LEED-certified meeting facility in Sharonville. Located 15 miles north of Cincinnati, this LEED Silver facility is a popular destination for meeting planners who want to do business with partners that are in alignment with their own organization’s values.
“We hear from companies and organizations often who take great pride in their identity and culture,” explains James Downton, Executive Director of the SCC. “Utilizing an event facility that is positioned with sustainability as a priority enables companies and organizations to feel proud of their event’s location.”
The renovated facility now has a 20,000-square-foot Exhibit Hall, a 14,000-square-foot Ballroom, more than 21,000 square feet of additional event space, and three breakout rooms.
“Being a LEED Silver certified event facility has not forced us to sacrifice in any area of comfort or experience. The effect has been just the opposite,” Downton says. “Our variable HVAC digital control system enables our building’s heating and cooling system to operate at maximum efficiency during events.”
Additionally, tinted and coated insulating reflective glass, improved thermal insulation, and a reduction of lighting power help achieve a 15% improvement in overall energy performance.
“I feel most responsible business owners and professional organizations want to do their part in contributing to sustainability and do not want to be perceived as energy or resource wasteful,” Downton says. “Choosing a LEED-certified facility says you are conscious of these decisions, and you understand your event’s potential impact on the environment.”
GO GREEN ON THE WATER
After looking at the stunning backdrop of Lake Erie, it’s no surprise that sustainability is a priority to The Lodge & Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake (LCCGL).
“Soon after opening The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, Delaware North implemented an environmental management program called GreenPath, with high eco-standards intended to protect the environment and reduce the impact on natural settings,” explains Eric Frantz, General Manager at the LCCGL. “Meetings at The Lodge feature key components such as local, sustainable catering options and minimal use of paper, and our facility is equipped with water-saving fixtures and energy-saving light bulbs.”
The LCCGL features more than 8,500 square feet of flexible meeting space in eight meeting rooms and 101 guest rooms for overnight events.
The LCCGL reduces or eliminates waste by modifying production processes, promotes the use of non-toxic or less-toxic substances, and implements conservation techniques by reusing materials rather than putting them into the waste stream.
THINK GREEN, SAVE GREEN
The SeaGate Convention Centre (SGCC) in downtown Toledo has been implementing green initiatives for more than a decade. Their 375,000-square-foot facility includes 75,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space that can be divided into three 25,000-square-foot halls, 25 meeting rooms, and 20,000 square feet of pre-function space where attendees can mix and mingle.
Initiatives seen at SGCC include a comprehensive recycling program that prevents more than 100 tons of materials from entering the waste stream each year and a co-generation machine for the HVAC system. The SGCC produces around 50% of their electricity needs on-site through microturbines, and the waste heat is either used in the boiler loop to help heat the building or in the absorption chiller to help cool the building. They also have a green cleaning program that won them a LEED innovation point because it exceeded the current LEED requirements.
“We try to pass on the cost savings from operating the building to our clients,” says J.T. Thielman, Director of Operations at SGCC. “Our rates haven’t increased a lot in a long time, and that’s based on how efficiently we’re operating the facility. All of the cost savings, whether they’re from water or energy, are passed on to our customers in some form or another.”
GO BIG AND GO GREEN
Currently in the process of becoming a LEED-certified building, the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) has more than 1.7 million square feet of event space, which includes Battelle Grand, the largest multi-purpose ballroom in the state of Ohio. Additional event and meeting spaces include 50,000 square feet on the main floor and 24,000 square feet on the mezzanine level.
“The Greater Columbus Convention Center is reaching the final stages of our $125 million expansion and renovation,” says Jennifer Davis, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager at the GCCC. “Even guests familiar with our facility will be amazed by the transformation.”
For meeting planners new to the sustainability world, help is available. Davis reports that some event planners utilize Meet Green consultants to elevate and coordinate the sustainability initiatives that the facility can provide for a group with more involved green expectations.
“General attendees are growing accustomed to benefitting from the array of visible waste reduction measures the facility offers, such as single-stream recycling programs, automatic sensors for faucets and paper products in restrooms, and the availability of fountain beverages and water coolers to reduce the consumption of plastic bottles and glass bottles,” Davis says.
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
Having a meeting at the “Greenest Zoo in America” is sure to make your event an unforgettable experience. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has both indoor and outdoor facilities that can accommodate groups of 25 to 400.
The zoo earned that title by focusing on green efforts in energy efficiency, water conservation, solid waste management, storm water management, green building design, and land stewardship.
In addition to the zoo’s title, Frisch’s Theater has been awarded green honors of its own. This LEED-certified indoor facility offers complete A/V capabilities and can seat up to 200 people.
Other meeting facilities include The Elephant Reserve, two open-air shelters that let attendees watch elephants play, and the Africa Deck & Overlook, a two-tiered deck and patio overlooking the new Africa exhibit where the wild dogs, lions, and cheetahs are just steps away. At this eco-conscious zoo, any facility is going to be a memorable one.
As a meeting planner, you have the opportunity to host an event without leaving a large negative impact on the environment. Being sustainable is easier than ever, so take advantage of that and show your attendees that you care about the planet and encourage them to do the same.