Q & A: CONVERSATIONS WITH A SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER

Meet Vivian Fleet, the Sustainability Officer at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). She’s responsible for reducing the environmental footprint of the facility as well as helping clients to do the same for their events at the venue. We asked the self-proclaimed green thumb and environmental gal to share her thoughts on emerging trends and debunk a common myth about sustainable events.

Tell us how you incorporate sustainable practices into events at the MTCC.

Collecting in-kind donations from events has really taken off in the past year at the MTCC. If clients and/or exhibitors have extra items they no longer need but could be used by someone else (delegate bags, give aways, furniture, etc.), we can donate those items to local organizations we partner with on their behalf. Participating in this program has no cost to the client (it could even save money from disposal or shipping) and it reduces waste from an event while giving back to the community. It’s a win-win-win!

We also have well established energy management guidelines to reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the facility. For example, during move-ins and move-outs the lighting levels are reduced on the exhibit hall floors and escalators are turned off if not in use. This reduces the electricity consumption of the events thereby making them more sustainable and with minimal effort.

For the past year and a half, the MTCC has attained a whopping 90% diversion rate for the facility. This means that each event we host also keeps the vast majority of its left over material out of landfills. This allows clients to focus on other parts of the event while knowing the sustainable elements are being taken care of for them.

So much effort goes into incorporating sustainable elements into these events. How can event planners let their attendees know about their green initiatives?

We are happy to work with clients to develop an effective outreach strategy for each event. Supplemental materials can be provided suggesting ways to implement and share the various initiatives.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for planning sustainable events?

Communication and education is always difficult. It is often wrongly assumed that adding sustainable elements to an event will cost a lot of time and money. We work hard to make it as easy and economical as possible to choose the more sustainable options for events!

And, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for sustainable events?

Community outreach and donations are a great way to reduce the environmental impact of an event, make a difference in people’s lives and tell a great story all at once!

What are your predictions for future trends in sustainability for events?

I think people will integrate sustainable elements into their events more and more, rather than having it as an add-on, especially if we continue to work on educating clients about their options and costs. Urban farming is also a hot trend right now so venues are beginning to build vegetable gardens and install bee hives on site. We just became urban beekeepers ourselves with our very own bee hives on top of the MTCC’s South building!

people at event

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre is a multi-award winning green facility and an industry leader on sustainable practices. Visit their website for more on how to go green with your next event at the MTCC.