The 2023 B:CIVIC Summit demonstrated how to balance growth and sustainability during a large in-person event as we hosted 400+ attendees and achieved recognition as a Certifiably Green Denver (CGD) Event. Throughout the Summit, we committed to demonstrating our values, Colorado’s Civic DNA: inclusivity, collaboration, shared vision, leadership and responsibility. Our conference mission was to showcase sustainable event practices and community inclusion and share best practices as to how others may prioritize this at their own organizations.
Learn how we implemented the Summit’s sustainability mission below.
Executing a successful event requires leaning on partners to accomplish your goals—caterers, AV techs, volunteers, venue management. With our mission in mind, we looked for partners who could help us meet our ultimate goal of being a certified green event.
During events of any size, there is a great opportunity through your food choices to make a large impact from small intentional choices. Serendipity Catering was founded with sustainability in mind and is a Certifiably Green Denver (CDG) business. Their team helped us craft an all-vegetarian menu that highlighted seasonal and local food. We made a conscience choice to have an all-vegetarian menu due to the decreased impact and water usage verse traditional meat alternatives. While many of our attendees were not vegetarian, our intent was to showcase how a choice, even for one meal a day, can make an impact. Serendipity Catering was also uniquely positioned to provide a waste hauling service, which filled a gap in the City’s services where our venue was located. We partnered with Copia to facilitate the donation of our excess food. The Copia app helps to automate donations and tracking for organizations. We hope that by demonstrating the ease of food donations, others will be inspired to try it.
Within the CGD certification, energy usage and other venue-dependent criteria are the most difficult to address, noted Gerardo Arguilera, Certifiably Green Denver Program Administrator, Office of Climate Action, Sustainability & Resiliency at the City and County of Denver. By choosing a City building that was recently updated to new efficiency standards, we were able to address some of the energy criteria.
The strongest partnership we leveraged was within our own team. Our Summit Planning Committee and Vice Chair Casey Stock helped shape many of our sustainable choices. Engaging others in the planning process not only develops innovative ideas, but it’s a great opportunity for education and creating ripples in other organizations.
Reducing Waste and Finding Opportunities
Throughout the Summit, we eliminated physical swag items. This was a component of the CGD certification, and it made sense for our event for other reasons.
- Eliminating physical swag has a cost savings benefit. Because we didn’t purchase branded giveaways or request items from our sponsors, we were able to invest in other areas of the event.
- This initiative resonated with our audience and was a value-add to those who attended. While planning, we focused on our audience—CSR, ESG and DEI professionals—who are concerned with sustainability and other community issues. So, we knew offering donation gift cards through our partner GlobalGiving would be valuable. We also offered professional headshots with our photographer. Every audience will care about different things, so focus on what makes the most sense for your context.
We also strove to limit printed material, and in the end, we used about 1.5 sheets per attendee. This was an effective cost-saving measure, as well as a win for sustainability, and using a mobile app allowed us to experiment with more interactive elements like push notifications. While prioritizing sustainability, it’s important to also be thoughtful of accessibility needs, so we did keep some printed material on hand.
We utilized tri-bin waste receptacles in addition to compost-only bins provided by Serendipity Catering. “The one element I would recommend focusing on to make a large impact is waste management,” said Arguilera. “Systems that encourage waste separation are becoming more standard in events everywhere.”
In total, Summit attendees donated over $4,000 to 92 nonprofits working in 39 countries. We donated nearly 40 meals and saved 3,546 net pounds of CO2 by composting our food waste.
If you’re interested in hosting your own Certifiably Green Denver event, you can set a meeting with the CDG staff to discuss the details. To learn more about B:CIVIC’s experience, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Explore the complete 2023 B:CIVIC Summit Impact Report here.