Hello partners!

Today’s blog post comes from Gina Broel and Scott Schenker who are on Microsoft’s events team and are responsible for facilitating some of the company’s largest events. Their mission? To ensure Microsoft event planners, vendors and local communities work hand-in-hand to integrate sustainability into events and communicate the value of this work back into Microsoft’s corporate environmental strategy.
At Microsoft, we’re committed to software and technology innovations that, among other things, help people and organizations around the world protect and improve their environment. Our goals are to limit the impact of our events and drive responsible environmental leadership.  WPC is a prime example of an event that has, and will continue to, demonstrate our efforts towards a more sustainable future.
At WPC 2012 in Toronto, we succeeded in reducing the environmental impact in several meaningful ways:
  • The event achieved an impressive 77% diversion/recycling rate.  This was a substantial increase from 45% the previous year.
    • 37 tons of paper, cardboard, plastic and other materials were recycled
    • 38 tons of food waste were composted instead of landfilled, which equals almost 4 full semi-trailer trucks
    • 7 tons of food were donated, which equals about 4,700 meals

  • Waste reduction, recycling and composting also meant a significant reduction in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.  Approximately 137 MTC02E (metric tons of CO2 equivalent) were avoided because of these activities.  This is equal to:
    • Annual Green House Gas Emissions for 26 passenger vehicles, OR
    • The CO2 emissions from the electricity of 19 homes in one year
And we’re continuing to build on that success. Here are a few areas that WPC is focused on for 2013:
  • In order to reduce individual plastic water bottle waste, attendees will be provided reusable water bottles to fill at water cooler stations throughout the Convention Center.
  • Attendees will be given reusable breakfast bags, eliminating the waste from disposable to-go containers.
  • We have reduced the amount of print collateral at the event, opting instead for information at attendees’ fingertips through mobile apps and website communications.  The majority of necessary conference-created collateral will be printed on 10% post-consumer waste, processed chlorine-free, and printed with vegetable-based ink. 
  • Plasma screens will be utilized for session signage to help reduce the amount of hard-copy signage waste.  Other banners and signage pieces will be recyclable, or designed for reuse by printing without date-specific logos.
  • In lieu of manufacturing and shipping conference bags, WPC13 will be making a donation to a global charity on behalf of the Microsoft partner community.
  • Leftover food that is appropriate for donation will be donated to local area food banks.  Other food waste and compostable service wares will be diverted from the garbage and composted.
Your awareness and actions support our efforts. Since your decisions directly impact these sustainability activities, you can help to make WPC more environmentally-friendly by following these simple steps:
Avoid Creating Waste in the First Place Don’t print unnecessarily, use your WPC water bottle, and donate any unwanted materials at the end of the event—there are lots of great ways to avoid creating waste.
Put Recycling, Compost and Garbage in the Right Bins:  Think twice before discarding something in the trash, and be sure to place recyclable paper, aluminum, glass, plastic in the recycling bins located throughout the Conference Center.  Please don’t put trash in the recycling bins.
Walk or Share Rides:  Use the WPC shuttles to transport between venues and hotels, and share cab rides with other attendees when possible. You can also choose from several greener transportation options on Digital WPC, such as the free natural gas powered Greenlink busses or Houston’s premier bike sharing program, B-Cycle.
Have other suggestions for ways the partner community can contribute to making the conference experience greener? Tweet your ideas via #WPC13 and @Microsoft_Green on Twitter. If you want to learn even more about Microsoft’s environmental initiatives, be sure to review the Microsoft Green Blog.
We are also partnering very closely with the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRBCC) on our sustainability efforts.  Specific containers for recyclable waste, including paper, aluminum, plastic and glass will be available throughout the Convention Center. The GRBCC received LEED Silver Certification for an Existing Building, which requires significant measures for energy savings, reductions in CO2 emissions, and minimal water usage and waste.  They purchase renewable energy (wind) and engage in dozens of technologies that reduce energy consumption, including motion sensors and software that turns off lights at night and in unoccupied rooms. More information on their efforts can be found here.
Gina Broel & Scott Schenker​