Certifications in the sustainable world, ready some confusion?  by SHARE TODAY The meetings and events world is getting confused about the many certifications for sustainability. Certifications are meant to help us to decide if a partner is trustworthy or not, but which rating means what. Which one can we trust the most is the key question besides which one fits us best?

There is no worldwide standard certification and we have a choice of many certifications. To name a few: Rainforest Alliance, Green Key, Green Globe, LEED , Energy Star Label, IBEX,  NordicSwan, BlueFlagEurope,  EMAS etc. It is easy to lose track.

Many organizations already do what’s right for the environment and society. Pioneering innovators are on the sustainable road of authenticity such as Aveda and the Bodyshop. For these organizations we do not need the proof of certifications as they have incorporated social values and respect for nature in their mission statement and proven it as such.

However, for other organizations certifications and ratings are, for the moment at least, proof of their intention to be sustainable.  If an organization wants to join this changing world, getting certified is the best option. The shortest route is to become a supplier on the sustainable list. To face this challenge many organizations appoint sustainability managers. They have to ensure that the organization adapts to a changing world and is recognized by the customer who wants to work with a sustainable partner. It is important to be clear: Tell the truth! When not all your light bulbs are energy saving, at least communicate how far you are. You want to be sustainable? Start simple. Start with a sustainable meeting or event!

How do you organize your meeting in a sustainable way?

Just an example of a small event to make it more tangible: Start by looking for the right partners. Then pick an easy to reach destination. From Amsterdam to for example Berlin is a good choice. It ranks relatively high on the list of Environmental Performance Index and there is a good train connection between Amsterdam and Berlin. When arrived at Berlin Hauptbahnhof it is easy to change trains and proceed the journey to Potsdamerplatz  Bahnhof and arrive at the newly opened Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz.

It will be lunch time by then (and yes all are hungry!) and the group will be surprised by an original way of enjoying a lunch buffet. Apparently Jamie Oliver joined forces with Scandic and advised them on pure and healthy food, full of inspiration and energy. Just what you need before a meeting. In the meeting rooms you’ll see that low energy bulbs are used and waste sorting bins are present. Even the water is handled in a sustainable way. It is offered in bottles or carafes coming from own dispensers. Notebooks are from FSC paper but most of the communication is done digitally via screens. Presentations given are immediately available after the meetings on the participants’ laptop. Keep the energy going after the meeting and jump on bikes for a bicycle tour through Berlin; an unique way to explore the city. Big finale of the day, a great dinner called Jamie’s dinner date: a 3-course meal of carefully selected ingredients. Just what everyone needs after the bike ride. As a remembrance of the meeting there will be stainless steel bottles present with the company logo. Did you know there are special suppliers for sustainable gifts and give-aways? See http://www.planetforward.ca

This example is only a small event. Imagine what you can do when your event lasts longer or is bigger! Again start with the right sustainable partners.  Keep asking yourself questions and Yes even about the details. You will see how easy it can be to organize your sustainable event!

One last tip; when using transportation like busses or aircrafts think of the emission of CO2.  Use the Event CO2 calculator from the Climate Neutral Group to measure this.

Sources: ISO 26000 - Guidance on Social Responsibility and its Impact on the Hotel Industry. By Chris Knop – Director, Avasara Consulting Limited, 22nd September 2010