In 2007, an article in Tradeshow Week reviewed how “the tradeshow business [could] no longer turn a blind eye to its impact on the environment.” This came in response to statistical data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which showed then that tradeshows and conventions accounted for the second most wasteful industry in the US.
Since then, venues (and even whole cities) have increasingly jumped on the green movement bandwagon with many becoming proactive in their approach to sustainability and green efforts. Grand Rapids and SMG-managed DeVos Place have been no exceptions.
Nominated by the Downtown Alliance for a 2012 Downtown Award in the ‘Sustainability’ category, the 253,000 square-foot DeVos Place Convention Center has been committed to the effort of caring for our environment by developing methods to reduce, reuse and recycle in our everyday routines. So what are those methods and how’d they come about?
Soon after that article was written, the City of Grand Rapids thrust itself into Consumer Energy’s Green Generation Program, Michigan’s first voluntary renewable energy program, which earned the city induction into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Leadership Club in December 2008. Along with DeVos Place, Grand Rapids put an emphasis on limiting the amount of waste that was produced while looking into making these entities more efficient.
Promptly in 2009, Grand Rapids was named the Green Generation Customer of the Year by Consumers Energy. "The action today on renewable energy is found in cities," Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell said then. "I'm proud that Grand Rapids has taken a lead in this field...”
A leader amongst venues, DeVos Place emphasizes reduce, reuse and recycle practices to become as energy efficient as possible. We have adopted the latest methodologies in sustainability into practice, such as automated faucets and flushing systems, as well as a membrane style roof that is light in color to help reflect heat away from the building, thereby reducing energy costs. To help minimize power usage, the building also uses a computer controlled lighting and HVAC system. The system is designed to control lights, heating and cooling during peak event activities. Here are some more ways DeVos Place has engaged in green practices:
• Recycled paper products in restrooms to minimize waste
• Low-flow toilets in DeVos Place
• Energy efficient HVAC system in DeVos Place Convention Center
• Employee energy conservation awareness program
• Compact fluorescent light bulbs in public areas
• Switching over to Environmentally green housekeeping products
• Energy Management Programming in building support systems
• Centralized off site use of heating and cooling services to reduce cost and impact to Grand Rapids
• Encouraging staff to use alternative modes of transportation and car pooling to decrease air pollutants
• Reserve office paper for only necessary use
• Reuse recycled bond paper for non-essential DeVos Place Convention Center documents
• Disposable and biodegradable food and beverage containers
• Participate with local businesses in a city-wide composting program
• Provide DeVos Place Convention Center employees with reusable vessels for beverages while on break
• Donate computers to charity after office updates
• Purchase recycled paper products for office use
• Promote an employee recycling program
• Recycle toner cartridges
• Participate in Grand Rapids’ surplus programs to reduce landfill use
• Continually research green practices relating to public venues to implement
So along with the city, DeVos Place Convention Center takes the environmental impact of meetings very seriously. Green/Sustainable meetings are about increasing economic and environmental efficiency by minimizing the use of resources and reducing the amount of waste produced from meeting activities. Trimming waste curbs costs, whether it is through the use of energy efficiency programs or recycling.
In July 2010, the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority was presented with a Green Venues Certification Plaque for DeVos Place by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.
"This accreditation is the mark of environmental responsibility of venues which are committed to ‘green’ business practices that make environmental and economic goals their top priority,” said DELEG Director Stanley “Skip” Pruss. “Green Venues Michigan is also helping to ensure the viability of our venues and the thousands of jobs related to Michigan’s hospitality industry."
The public can vote for DeVos Place and all other categories here and can place their votes through August.