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Green Meeting Industry Council
2025 M Street, N.W. Suite 800
Washington, D.C.

Destination Spotlight - January 2013
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Destination Spotlight

Get to know our member destinations. Every month we profile a different destination who helps to make the GMIC community so unique.
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Destination: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

How does this support your ability to attract meetings into your area?
Salt Lake is rapidly becoming recognized for its "green efforts” and for its reputation as a safe and sustainable location for convention and tourism activities. Visit Salt Lake was recently named as a Silver Level Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists, joining other silver recipients such as Apple, the Sierra Club and Burton Snowboards. Our city mayor and our county mayor have led the way by promoting green building, alternative transportation and by installing the nation’s largest rooftop solar project on top of the Salt Palace Convention Center. More and more, meeting planners are looking for ways to be good corporate citizens and to minimize their waste footprint by choosing cities and venues who are like-minded and who make it easy to choose green programs.

What sustainable attribute are you most proud of within your city and sets your city apart from other cities?

One of our greatest sustainable achievements has to do with becoming a bike friendly capital. More and more bike lanes are being allocated in downtown, a bike share program will be implemented this spring, our public transportation systems of bus and light rail feature bike racks for commuters and a strong year-round bike culture has emerged in Salt Lake. With spectacular nature right at our doorstep, our citizens have a strong green ethos that is manifest in the workplace and in their transportation choices.

How does your CVB/City support sustainable events (minimizing negative impacts and maximizing positive contributions in the local community) to help event organizers?
Visit Salt Lake is committed to minimizing the impact of meetings and events on the environment by encouraging meeting planners to choose environmentally responsible programs, products and services for use in conducting their business activities in Salt Lake. Our sustainable initiatives focus on the areas of waste reduction, recycling and diversion, energy efficiency, water quality and consumption, air quality, carbon offsets and community outreach.

Describe the sustainable transportation options available in your city for event organizers? (for example, bicycling options, light rail, walkable convention zone)
Transportation options include, free fare zone for the Light Rail in the convention district, a walkable and safe city, bike share program, and free parking for energy efficient vehicles.

What solutions do you provide to help event organizers with waste diversion (venue recycling, composting, donation programs, etc.)?
Waste diversion: The Salt Palace Convention Center and Utah Food Services (the in-house caterer) use a contracted disposal company to provide a single stream recycling program for aluminum, paper, cardboard and plastic. Mixed recyclable are collected daily in clearly marked bins throughout the center. Utah Food Services collects and recycles cooking oil and uses biodegradable utensils. UFS composts all fruit, vegetable and floral waste. UFS distributes leftover food to The Road Home homeless shelter, the Salt Lake Mission and the Utah Food Bank.

How do you support local community organizations and facility CSR project support for event organizers?
We promote local community organizations to benefit from CSR projects by connecting Meeting Planners through a link on our website called "Community Resources,” which lists over a dozen entities who can benefit from volunteer programs and projects. Moreover, Visit Salt Lake works with clients to assist in the distribution and donation of leftover convention items, surplus furniture, building material and electrical equipment to local schools and social service organizations.

How do you support local food or other procurement sourcing options for event organizers?
Utah Food Services follows local food-buying practices and uses organic food sources when appropriate.

Does your bureau or major convention center have a green team?
Both Visit Salt Lake and the Salt Palace Convention Center have a green team.

Do you provide educational training programs for your region (venues, etc.) about sustainable best practice? If so, in what format? Do you profile and/or promote sustainable hospitality partners?
We do not currently provide educational training programs about sustainable best practices.

Describe the most impactful sustainable event experience/customer experience supported by your CVB?
One of our most impactful sustainable events was conducted by members of the True Value Hardware store owners when they were here for last year’s annual convention. During their stay in Salt Lake, they teamed up with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter to conduct some home improvement and park improvement projects. They also donated many building materials for future use in HFH programs.

What advice would you provide to other CVB professionals seeking to head down the sustainable event pathway?
My advice to other CVB professionals seeking to head down the sustainable event pathway would be to paraphrase the lyrics to the O’Jays "Love Train.”
People all over the world
Join hands, Join in
Start a green train
Don’t you know that it’s time to get on board
And let this train keep on riding, riding on through
Please don’t miss this train at the station
‘Cause if you miss, I feel sorry, sorry for you!

When an event organizer comes to your city for a site inspection, what is your favorite sustainable activity, attribute, location or experience that you like to share with them?
Favorite sustainable attribute is probably the Free Fare Zone for the light rail and also the 1.65 Megawatt solar system, covering nearly 200,000 square feet of the roof of the Salt Palace Convention Center.

What value do you see being affiliated with the global GMIC community?
Being identified with the good people and members of GMIC increases our awareness of where we are and where we are heading and what is possible when people get excited and inspired.

What do you need from the industry to continue to advance in the realm of sustainability?
Regular educational webinars, annual meetings and case studies are all helpful as we continue to ride the Green Train.