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Meeting & Conference Services


Meeting and Conference Services include activities related to planning and executing meetings and conferences. Examples of these activities are facility and lodging selection; food and beverage selection; selecting transit and travel options; and choosing materials used, such as name tag holders, handouts, and signs/banners.

You can determine the specific sustainable requirements that apply to meeting and conference services by clicking on the required green products on the Left Side of this page. 

You can find the federal government’s sustainable acquisition policies and procedures at Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Part 23opens in new window. Federal agencies are required to procure sustainable products and services to the maximum extent practicable. Per FAR 23.103(c)opens in new window, this includes products under contract actions for services or construction if the products are:

  • Delivered to the Government;
  • Furnished by the contractor for use by the Government;
  • Incorporated into the construction of a public building or public work; or
  • Acquired by the contractor for use in performing services under a Government contract where the cost of the products is a direct cost to a Government contract.

Opting for green meeting and conference strategies which reduce GHG emissions are measures federal agencies can take to reduce negative environmental impacts. The Federal Government has a responsibility to decrease GHG emissions and make sustainable choices. Below are some suggestions to help you get started. This type of service typically falls under NAICS code 561920 and 721110 and Product Service Codes (PSC) E1AB, T001, M1AB, V211, V231, V212, V222 and X1AB.

Downloadable Resources
Selected Past Solicitations If you have past Meeting & Conference Services green solicitations that would be informative to the green procurement community, please submit them to sftool@gsa.gov.
Required Green Products

In accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Part 23opens in new window, federal agencies are required to procure sustainable products and services to the maximum extent practicable (see FAR 23.103opens in new window, 23.105opens in new window, and 23.106opens in new window for additional information, including exceptions and exemptions). In support of meeting and conference services, the following purchasing programs may be applicable:

Includes disposable cutlery and tableware.
Includes awards, binders, name tags, and more.
Includes monitors, televisions, A/V equipment, and more.
Includes food service ware, monitors, paper, and more.

Federal agencies are directed to prioritize items that are both CPG (see FAR 23.107-1opens in new window) and BioPreferred (see FAR 23.107-2opens in new window); however, in instances when federal agencies must choose between the two programs, and both items meet the agency's needs, federal agencies are directed to procure the CPG item.

Download a suggested list of related products covered by these federal purchasing programs:

FAR 23.104(c)opens in new window provides direction to ensure that federal agencies, first and foremost, comply with statutory purchasing program requirements and prioritize multi-attribute sustainable products and services, which are those that meet all applicable statutory purchasing program requirements and one or more required U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) purchasing programs.


Optional Green Practices

There are many commercial practices that can result in a more sustainable and environmentally preferable service.  Consider those listed just below when defining performance requirements and developing evaluation criteria.  For more comprehensive guidance on planning a sustainable conference, review the EPA's page on Green Meetingsopens in new window.

In all cases, the meeting or conference not held is the one which is most sustainable.  On the basis of your program’s essential requirements, re-evaluate the need to engage in any meeting or conference to which participants must travel, or in which participants must physically attend.  If possible, offer virtual attendance to reduce the number of in person meeting attendees.

  • Seek a general location where the facilities needed for your meeting are closely accessible (i.e. airport, hotels, attractions, mass transportation).
  • Where appropriate for the meeting location and time of year, consider outdoor vs. indoor location and using windows for light/ventilation/natural cooling.
  • Select accommodations that allow for efficient transportation routes (walking paths, bicycle paths, public transportation).
  • Choose accommodations and conference facilities within walking distance of each other and within walking distance of area restaurants and attractions.
  • Choose accommodations and conference facilities with easy access to public transportation, both to/from airports and intra-city.
  • Provide shuttle services between meetings, accommodations, and restaurants to minimize car and taxi trips.
  • Ensure transportation provider offers a carbon emission offsetting program and/or offers hybrid, alternative fuel, or highly efficient gas vehicles.
  • Use SmartWay Transport Partners for any freight carriers, logistics companies or fleets.  SmartWay is an EPA program that reduces transportation-related emissions by creating incentives to improve supply chain fuel efficiency. 
  • Seek providers that follow environmentally responsible maintenance programs and recycle used oil, batteries, antifreeze, and tires.
  • Seek providers that train drivers to minimize idling and the use of air conditioners.
  • Use reusable linens, flatware, glassware, etc.  If reusable items are not available, offer recyclable service ware made with recycled and recycleable content and/or biobased content.  If composting is available, use compostable items.
  • Clearly label recycling and trash containers for appropriate waste streams (recyclable, compostable, landfill).
  • Serve food in bulk, family style (avoid individual packaging).
  • Serve sugar, creamers, and condiments in reusable dishes rather than in individual packets.
  • Provide drinking water in pitchers or large reusable containers instead of small plastic bottles.
  • Serve local, organic items and always provide vegetarian options.
  • Look for companies that offer seasonal menus and plan menus that include mainly foods that are in season and easy to get at that time of year.
  • Place recycling/compost bins near food service areas and exits.
  • Provide options for minimizing food waste:
    • Using smaller plates.
    • Consider having attendees ‘sign-up’ for meals. 
    • Donate un-served food to local food banks or soup kitchens, and compost any other food when possible.
  • Offer healthier and sustainable food and beverage choices, while eliminating industrially produced trans fats, decreasing the sodium content in available foods, and allowing people to make informed choices about what they are purchasing and eating through the labeling of menu items.  For more information on maximizing a healthier and more sustainable food service, view the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilitiesopens in new window.
  • Advertise your event using the web and/or email rather than print.
  • Require electronic registration.
  • Develop communications for meeting attendees about:
    • Environmentally preferable transportation choices, such as mass transit and car-pooling for getting to their destination. 
    • Public transit passes and maps.
    • Techniques used to green the meeting and how they can contribute. 
    • How materials will be recycled or composted.
    • Availability and location of recycling bins.
  • Distribute floor plans, event information, presentations, and other materials electronically before the event, and make them available online during and after the event.
  • Make use of electronic technologies as much as possible.
    • Use electronic signage and communication devices.
    • Consider the use of Quick Response (QR) codes.
    • Consider offering remote access by providing live streaming.
  • If printed signage is used, ensure it is reusable and made from recycled content and recyclable materials.
  • If printed materials are used, print double-sided with soy-based or vegetable-based ink on paper made with recycled content.
  • Place visible signage instructing persons as to what is and is not recyclable (and reusable). Put additional containers in hotel lobbies near checkout areas.
  • Capability for making photocopies on-demand instead of over-printing materials.
  • Reduce transportation emissions and support local economies by using local services and products whenever possible.
  • Work with the shipping firm to minimize packing materials and to use reusable, recyclable, and other environmentally preferable shipping and packing materials.
  • Minimize the use of costly new packing supplies by reusing boxes and packing materials.
  • Discourage exhibitors from bringing large quantities of material to the show. Consider requiring exhibitors to be responsible for removal or recycling of their collateral post-event.
  • Minimize use of promotional items and if promotional items must be distributed, consider green items.
  • Recycle or reuse paper inserts, lanyards, and plastic badges.
  • Set up areas for exhibitors to drop off reusable items at the end of the show and arrange for donation of unused materials to local school or other groups.
  • Participate in a self-certification green lodging program, such as the Green Hotels Association, the Hotel Association of Canada's Green Key program, or state programs.
  • Undertake water-efficiency measures such as the installation of high-efficiency bathroom and kitchen fixtures and fittings for toilets, showerheads, and/or faucets.
  • Participate in the EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager program.
  • Undertake energy saving measures such as energy management systems, compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs, lights out cards, and motion sensors for lighting public restrooms.
  • Reduce energy and water use by providing opt-in cards for daily changes of bed linens and towels or participating in other linen/towel reuse programs.
  • Reduce waste by recycling, composting lawn and yard trimmings, and avoiding wastefully-packaged products.
  • Care about the health of guests and employees, meaning odors, fumes, soot, droplets and residues of toxic poisonous chemical are not in the air, on food, or anything guests and employees would touch or breathe in.
Evaluation Factors

There are many opportunities to consider environmental criteria in your evaluation of offers.  A Pass/Fail approach may be appropriate for establishing basic green product requirements or when market research shows that other sustainable practices are common in the commercial marketplace.  For example, you might require that meeting facilities offer direct access to public transportation – an offeror can either meet this requirement (pass) or it cannot (fail).  

In some cases, it may be appropriate to consider environmental aspects through a Best Value Tradeoff approach in lieu of, or in addition to, pass/fail criteria.  By incorporating environmental criteria into your evaluation factors, you can weigh a vendor’s ability to offer desirable sustainable practices above and beyond minimum contract requirements in relation to other factors, such as price. Several potential opportunities for incorporating environmental considerations into your evaluation factors are listed below.

Location – Consider locations that minimize travel for attendees, including distance to local airports, hotels, and mass transportation.

Sustainability Plan – Require contractors to propose a comprehensive sustainability plan that details how they will help the Government achieve its environmental objectives, including sustainable acquisition requirements, waste management, low carbon/GHG emission transportation, and more sustainable food service.

Technical Approach & Management Plan – Require contractors to address sustainability practices, develop environmental project goals and objectives, and develop a project plan that will achieve sustainability objectives.

Past Performance – Evaluate how well the contractor performed previous projects and the degree to which they implemented green conference and meeting services, including the use of green products.

Previous Experience – Require contractors to demonstrate their experience and capability to provide green conference and meeting services similar in size, scope, and complexity to the required work.

Staffing Plan – Give preference to staffing plans that propose planners or other staff with previous experience in sustainable meetings and conferences.

Where to Buy

Federal agencies may purchase a full range of meeting and conference planning services under GSA's Multiple Award Schedule Category 561920opens in new window.  This includes the making of all necessary arrangements for conferences, seminars, and trade shows (project management, liason support with venue, registration support, audiovisual and IT support, site location research, communication with attendees, etc.). 

While these contracts include basic terms and conditions, the ordering agency is responsible for inserting the appropriate green requirements and language into the solicitation.  More information on ordering through GSA Multiple Award Schedules can be found hereopens in new window.