The Austin Convention Center is the first convention center in Texas to be awarded the LEED Gold Certification for Existing Buildings. They also have the stats to back up their green meeting initiatives:
- diverting 66 percent of all waste from landfill
- composting 250,000 pounds of organic waste in 2011
- reducing its carbon footprint by 93 percent since 2007
- reducing electric consumption by 20 percent (source: Austin Business Journal)
My experience in Austin began way back in 1995, when I brought a large technology conference to the city. Never before, had I experienced such a level of commitment to client services from both the convention center and the CVB. It was the year I met, Monica Hammond, Austin Convention Center, and Janice Foster, Austin CVB.
When I began bringing environmental and social justice conferences to town, both these women jumped at the chance to learn more about sustainability. Monica was the first person to track how much water could be saved at a large banquet by not prefilling water glasses–without being requested or required. She showed up at the post-con with the stats in her hand. Janice has been trying to set up a donation stream for conferences visiting the city as her personal project–she wants to give back to the local community. She also makes sure I share any advice or trends I see with the whole department whenever I visit. Both are always eager to learn anything they can about green meetings, to better their city and their world.
I will most likely embarrass both of these amazing women by writing this post, but these unsung heroes deserve recognition too for making the City of Austin a destination high on my priority list.