Green, Sustainable Meetings
Consistently recognized as a sustainability leader, Eugene, Oregon and the surrounding communities are a natural draw for green meetings. From the Cascades ridgeline to the Pacific coastline, our citizens have a keen appreciation for protecting our common inheritance of natural beauty and precious resources.
The Eugene City Council passed the Climate Recovery Ordinance (CRO) in 2014, making a bold statement by setting ambitious climate goals and incorporating them into Eugene City Code. The goals include reducing community fossil fuel consumption 50% by 2030, reducing community greenhouse gases by 7.6% annually, and establishing carbon-neutral City facilities by 2020.
Utilizing a green meeting space is a smart choice for planners. Eugene is home to many LEED certified venues. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the U.S. Green Building Council rating system. Some of Eugene's certified venues include the University of Oregon’s Erb Memorial Union (LEED Platinum), Matthew Knight Arena (LEED Gold) and the Lillis Business Complex (LEED Silver).
Many hotel properties throughout the region also boast a strong commitment to sustainable practices. Some of these include energy conservation policies, on-site recycling, green housekeeping services and energy-efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
In 2015, Lane Transit District (LTD), Eugene’s bus service provider, became one of just 13 transit agencies in the U.S.—and only transit district in Oregon— to achieve certification of a high international sustainability standard known as International Organization Standardization’s (ISO) 14001.
PeaceHealth Rides is a network of bike share stations located throughout the city. Attendees can pick up and drop off publicly available bicycles for one-way trips across the city. The rental bikes are equipped with GPS tracking and built-in safety features.
A hundred-mile radius around the Eugene-Springfield metro area encompasses the agricultural bounty of the Willamette Valley; verdant foraging, fishing and hunting in the Cascade Mountains; and fresh seafood from the Pacific Ocean. Combine the fertile foodshed with one of the nation's purest water sources, internationally applauded wine, a craft beer haven, and a community committed to farm-to-table sustainability for an amazing immersion in Pacific Northwest regional dining.
Eugene’s Love Food Not Waste program allows meeting venues and food businesses to turn their food scraps into healthy compost. Since the program’s implementation in 2012, it has converted over 10,000 tons of food waste into compost and biogas. Almost all the meeting venues and hotel properties participate in the program—making it easy for planners who are committed to sustainable events.
The Eugene, Cascades & Coast region of Oregon is home to 30 miles of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area—the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America and one of the largest expanses of temperate coastal sand dunes in the world. The Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative hosts volunteer work parties that provide groups with guided nature tours and the opportunity to help save the dunes by removing non-native plant species.
The Cascades Raptor Center, located in Eugene, is a rescue and rehabilitation center that is home to one of the largest collections of native raptor species in the Pacific Northwest. Attendees can experience over 50 birds of prey in large aviaries viewed by walking along winding hillside trails. Groups can arrange to help beautify and maintain the grounds by removing invasive plant species, raking trails and planting.
Planners can add an eco-inspiration activity to their conference agenda with a tour of an organic farm, winery or sustainable industry. Or, take a group to explore the West Eugene Wetlands, hike a local trail and look for birds, or navigate the local watershed by raft or kayak. Additionally, the area is rich with speakers that are passionate about sustainability and enthusiasts that are eager to share their knowledge with groups.
- Provide online access to conference materials rather than distributing handouts, binders or brochures.
- Forgo imprinted plastic gizmos and make an impression with amusing entertainment, edible treats or special discounts.
- Ask attendees to bring their own lanyards and name badges from previous events or conferences (we all have a ton!). Not only does this save on additional plastic, paper and lanyards, it also provides a fun icebreaker activity for attendees to share their badge story.
- Provide bike pedi-cabs or biodiesel shuttle service.
- Use water coolers and pitchers instead of individual bottled water and soda cans.
- Offer bulk sugar, creamer, butter, jelly and cream cheese instead of individual servings.
- Use the facility's glasses, plates, silverware and cloth napkins. For disposables choose compostable or biodegradable cups, plate and utensils. Do not use Styrofoam.
- Provide clearly marked, easily accessible recycling and composting bins alongside all trash cans.
- Serve locally grown and organic food and beverages.
- Extend the life of florals and other decor by donating them to local non-profits after the event. Do the same with leftover food.
- Consider creating a carbon-offset program for your event such as planting trees, purchasing wind energy or donating to a conservation program.
- Are you geocaching or treasure hunting as a teambuilding exercise? Take the "Cache In Trash Out" approach and have fun making a difference.