One of the best ways to address corporate social responsibility (CSR) related to the impact of vehicle emissions associated with a conference or convention is to select destinations that do not require significant driving between the airport, event hotels and meeting/event venues. But conference and event planners have other ways they can influence sustainability associated with the transportation used on their events.
When MPI considered corporate social responsibility associated with its MeetDifference 2009 conference in Atlanta, transportation was an item they addressed. With the convention itself being at the Georgia World Congress Center, many of the hotels being used for the conference were all within a nine block radius, giving attendees an option to consider walking or certainly keeping the amount of driving between venues to a minimum.
Elizabeth Henderson, CMM, CMP, M.E. Des., director of corporate responsibility for Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Calgary, Alberta, Canada, suggests that conference and event planners consider the following requirements on their transportation companies:
- Responsible maintenance, including recycling of motor oil
- Elimination of idling
- Driver training on environmentally responsible techniques
- Fuel efficient and/or alternative fuel vehicles/hybrids
In fact, according to MPI, the City of Atlanta trains its drivers to minimize idling and the use of air conditioning when the bus is empty. They also offer fuel efficient, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles within their fleet. And for the MPI conference, the buses provided recycling bins on their vehicles.
The idea of identifying fuel efficient transportation for events may seem a bit challenging for larger cities, many steps have already begun in some destinations. For example, it may seem quite challenging for a conference planner to try addressing “green-friendly” transportation in a city such as London.
On the contrary, London’s use of the Underground (a.k.a., the tube) is a primary method for conference attendees to make their way from hotels to one of the city’s convention centers, such as ExCel. And this is an important distinction for London, especially as they prepare for the London 2012 Games.
And for those situations that may require auto transfers, one company is differentiating itself by relying on hybrid technology for its entire fleet of vehicles (Prius). Green Tomato Cars, a London-based car service, incorporates a combination of hybrid vehicles, offsetting (double funding) unavoidable emissions by planting trees and engaging in energy saving projects, and procuring from environmentally friendly sources. Green Tomato Cars has built a fleet of about 100 cars and indicates that it does not pass any increased cost to its customers.