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

Destination Spotlight - March 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.

How do you communicate you city’s sustainability commitment to meeting organizers?
The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau uses the internet to communicate their sustainability commitment at This website provides the necessary tools for meeting planners to conduct a successful "green” meeting.

How does this support your ability to attract meetings into your area?
The Virginia Beach CVB is able to position their city as a sustainable destination. The Bureau continues to elevate industry standards for environmentally sound practices through a growing portfolio of sustainability-based offerings and amenities available to meeting planners and organizations. The website provides a great overview of their diverse sustainability efforts and green practices.

What sustainable attribute are you most proud of within your city and sets your city apart from other cities?
The Virginia Beach tourism and hospitality industry has made a commitment to decrease its impact on the environment and provide environmentally-friendly alternatives for visitors. On August 15, 2008, Governor Kaine participated in a ceremony marking the destination of Virginia Beach as the Commonwealth’s first "Virginia Green Destination”.

Virginia Beach Convention Center was the first to meet Virginia Green core activities for convention centers which include recycling, minimized use of Styrofoam/disposables, water efficiency, energy efficiency and supporting green conferences and events.
  • In 2009, Virginia Beach Convention Center (VBCC) staff began fine-tuning their energy management techniques with enhanced monitoring of their lighting and HVAC system, lighting upgrades, and use of Energy Star Portfolio Manager.
  • In April of 2010, the Virginia Beach Convention Center (VBCC) raised the bar on sustainability by becoming the first convention center in the country to achieve LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings.
Since Virginia Beach at this time has over 115 Virginia Green Certified hospitality businesses, including hotels, restaurants, attractions and events.

Describe the sustainable transportation options available in your city for event organizers? (for example, bicycling options, light rail, walkable convention zone)
  • In partnership with Hampton Roads Transit, Virginia Beach as a city offers hybrid-electric buses that replaced trolley’s that were utilized for oceanfront seasonal shuttle service.
  • VBCC also has (2) Hampton Road Transit bus routes that stop within ¼ mile of the building, bike racks on site, and several dining options within walking distance.
What solutions do you provide to help event organizers with waste diversion (venue recycling, composting, donation programs, etc.)?
  • The Virginia Beach Convention Center’s LEED Green Associate meets with exhibitors about recycling and works with interested meeting planners to assist them in making their meetings as sustainable as possible.
  • Composting is coordinated on site at the center between the LEED Green Associate and onsite Caterer Distinctive Gourmet (DG).
  • DG uses bio-degradable and recyclable material in their concessions stands to assist groups with green efforts during their meetings.

How do you support local community organizations and facility CSR project support for event organizers?
Distinctive Gourmet (DG) to assist with furthering their sustainability efforts donates food overages to local shelters. Through One Beach, One World, Virginia Beach helps meeting planners reach corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals by offering:
  • meaningful experiences that delegates and attendees value
  • shared enrichment that strengthens bonds among collaborators
  • the chance to make an impact through volunteer efforts
CSR in Virginia Beach is special. Our coastal location and the area’s thriving military community offer unique ways to get involved. Activities range from participants rolling up their sleeves – and pants legs – to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, to working on behalf of our troops, to providing care and assistance to people in need.

The following website shares more detailed information with planners for steps to take to create a memorable CSR program for their organization and attendees.

How do you support local food or other procurement sourcing options for event organizers?
Virginia Beach Convention Center – onsite catering company Distinctive Gourmet (DG)
  • DG purchases most of their poultry from within a 500 mile radius and buys local produce when available.
  • Planted an on-site herb garden to encourage the use of local sustainable food and composted 32 tons of food waste in 2012.

Buy Fresh Buy Local
  • Hampton Roads Chapter connects consumers to Hampton Road’s freshest and most delicious locally grown and produced food. Through outreach materials, advertisements and point of purchase materials, it is easy for consumers to find and buy fresh, local food. Conduct local fairs that help promote and educate on buy fresh buy local.
  • Local Hotels, restaurants, and events feature local products for everyday and special event meals.
Old Beach Farmers Market
  • Established as a resort-area open air farmers market for residents and visitors to encourage and educate others about local, fresh and sustainable food. Old Beach Farmers Market is an open air market that gathers in the parking lot of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro, a local neighborhood restaurant. Located in the heart of the Virginia Beach resort area that is one block from the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
  • Promotes local family farms, watermen, Virginia wineries and connects chefs, restaurants and the public to local resources.
  • Walking or riding a bike is encouraged as is bringing a reusable shopping bag.
  • Seasonal Market
Farmers Market
  • Conduct local tours of Farmers Market for tourist and locals alike.
  • Provide a variety of local products.

Does your bureau or major convention center have a green team?
  • The Virginia Beach Convention Center is one of the few centers to employ a full time Sustainability Coordinator to meet industry demands for environmental stewardship.
  • The VBCC Sustainability coordinator works closely with the VBCC operations staff to manage energy saving and recycling programs. I addition, the coordinator serves on the City of Virginia Sustainability Advisory Team, Joint Energy Committee, and Virginia Green Advisory Committee and is a member of the Hampton Roads chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

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?
City of Virginia Beach provides a half-day Energy Conservation Training course available to all City employees.

Describe the most impactful sustainable event experience/customer experience supported by your CVB?
In January 2011, for local stake holders (hotels, business, etc.) a "Tourism Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Forum” was held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center that was open to the public. Speakers highlighted the advantages of sustainability in the hospitality industry, current sustainability trends, cutting edge energy innovations, sustainable products and free programs such as Energy Star and Virginia Green. Attendees interacted with exhibitors who provided information regarding energy audits, Virginia Beach Convention Center LEED Certification process, recycling, disposal, electric vehicles, etc.

In September 2012, the City of Virginia Beach and VBCC hosted the inaugural Hampton Roads Sustainable Living Expo with over 75 exhibitors including representatives from all 16 regional municipalities and 2000 attendees (

What advice would you provide to other CVB professionals seeking to head down the sustainable event pathway?
Join GMIC and get involved.
  • Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau became the first
  • Platinum business member.Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau representative became member of founding board for Greater Washington Area GMIC Chapter in 2012.
Put in place a team from your bureau, convention center (if applicable) and hospitality community to work to coordinate green/sustainability efforts across the board for your area. Become involved with your local chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

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?
When a meeting planner visits our area we like to share that our area participates and is certified Virginia Green. That our Convention Center is LEED Certified and that we are a member of GMIC

Share with Planners local attractions and activities that can assist in boosting their impact on the city and assist in attracting their attendees to our area:
  • Virginia Aquarium: Virginia Green Certified venue that began a sensible seafood program to promote seafood choices that make sense for a healthy marine environment.
  • Live the Life adventures (great for attendee option tours throughout event): Coastal Harvest Feast Food Tour, Taste of the Market, Organics 101, Farm to Table, Taste of the Bay, Beach Life
For more information on above tours and others tours included in Live the life adventures go to:

What value do you see being affiliated with the global GMIC community?
Be being involved with global GMIC community the City of Virginia Beach has the ability to stay up to date on changes within the industry and learn more "better practices” to continue to grow as a leading sustainable city with venues that are dedicated to making a difference for not only our city but for those that visit with us year around.

What do you need from the industry to continue to advance in the realm of sustainability?
We need to hear from meeting planners that sustainability matters, even if it sometimes the cost is more. We need our local electricity providers and governments to provide incentives for renewable energy.

Do you have links, testimonials, case studies etc available that we can share with our community?