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Meeting & Conference Services

Overview

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.   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 FAR Subpart 23.1, federal contracts for meeting and conference services must require contractors to use or supply products covered by the following environmental programs:

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

Download a suggested list of related products covered by these federal environmental programs. When you view the related product list, under Procurement Info, you will notice some products include Other EPA Recommended Standards and Ecolabels. These recommendations are now final and are federally required.

FAR clause 52.223-2, Affirmative Procurement of Biobased Products Under Service and Construction Contracts, requires service and construction contractors to report their purchases of biobased products to the new reporting portal within the System for Award Management (SAM)You should also consider requiring contractors to submit regular reports identifying the quantity and type of all green products used or delivered during contract performance. For performance-based contracts, checking for contractor use of sustainable products should be part of the Quality Assurance Plan.  

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 Federal Travel Regulation Guide to Sustainable Conferences.

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 Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations.
  • 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 Professional Services Schedule (PSS) Special Item Number (SIN) C541 4D.  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 here.