ISSP Sustainable Event Policy


The International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) is committed to operating in the most sustainable way possible. As an international membership organization, providing members with ways to network and learn from each other is a key benefit and face-to-face meetings are extremely useful. However, these benefits need to be balanced against the significant negative environmental impacts associated with long distance travel. As a result, it is the policy of ISSP to provide members the opportunity to meet virtually as often as possible.


When in-person events are planned, however, it is the policy of ISSP to minimize the negative social, environmental and economic impacts of those meetings through:


  • Reducing energy and water consumption at the event.

  • Minimizing harmful emissions resulting from vehicular & air transportation and energy consumption associated with the event.

  • Decreasing the amount of solid waste produced by the event.

  • Disposing of solid & liquid waste in an environmentally responsible manner.

  • Eliminating the use of harmful chemicals at or for the event.

  • Discouraging the excessive hand-out of materials & event souvenirs.


The following are our guidelines to ensure a sustainable event:


Conference Destination


  • Select a location that, on average, minimizes the distance the attendees have to travel.

  • Get a sense of the availability of green services in cities under consideration. Some cities or regions are further along in their awareness and protection of the environment and will make it easier for us to minimize our impact.

  • Select a location where the facilities needed for our meeting are all accessible to each other, the airport, and local attractions by mass transportation options.

Meeting Facilities and Accommodations

  • Use a facility that:

  • Promotes energy and water conservation programs, including: automatic controls for the HVAC system; low consumption lighting and automatic lighting controls; and low-flow taps, showerheads, and toilets.

  • Encourages meeting attendees to participate in energy conservation and waste reduction efforts-for example, by reducing paper towels, using soap dispensers versus individual soaps, avoiding waste, and participating in recycling and compost programs throughout all visible areas.

  • Provides meeting rooms with recycling bins, posted with a list of all items that can be recycled.

  • Donates unused amenities (soap, bottles, etc.) to charitable organizations or recycle them.

  • Gives hotel guests the option to reuse towels and sheets.

  • Utilizes paperless check-in, checkout, and billing procedures.


  • Allow for efficient transportation routes (walking paths, bicycle paths, public transportation) by choosing meetings and accommodations within walking distance of each other and area restaurants and attractions, so excessive car travel is minimized.

  • Provide shuttle services between meetings, accommodations, and restaurants to minimize car and taxi trips if walking isn't feasible.


  • Use signage that is reusable whenever possible.

  • Reduce paper use by putting floor plans and exhibitor service kit items on our Web site when practical.

  • Work with the shipping firm and decorator to minimize packing materials and to use recyclable and other environmentally preferable shipping and packing materials.

  • Incorporate community service into the exhibition.

  • Discourage exhibitors from bringing large quantities of material to the show. Encourage exhibitors to set up a portal with all necessary documentation where participants can sign up on sight and have materials e-mailed to them directly and refer clients to their Web site.

  • Encourage vendors to purchase carbon offset credits for every person that visits their booth instead of giveaways. If using giveaways, ensure they are environmentally responsible items.

  • Ask exhibitors to donate leftover flowers, giveaways such as trinkets, pencils, or T-shirts, or other booth decorations or items that would normally be thrown away to local shelters, hospitals, or schools. Set up areas for exhibitors to drop off reusable items at the end of the show.

Food & Beverage

  • Procure organic & local food.

  • Consider cloth instead of paper napkins, and reusable plates, cups, and silverware.

  • If disposable rather than reusable service-ware is used, look for compostable, recycled-content and/or recyclable materials.

  • Serve sugar, creamers, and condiments in reusable dishes rather than packets.

  • Consider providing drinking water in pitchers or large reusable containers instead of small plastic bottles.

  • Donate surplus food when possible to local shelters and food banks.

General Office Practices and Communications

  • Reduce paper by allowing attendees to register online. Confirm registration by e-mail when possible.

  • Recycle paper inserts and collect to re-use plastic badges.

  • Use double-sided copies.

  • Print marketing and registration materials (whenever possible) on recycled paper using soy-based ink with no dates.

  • Promote electronic distribution instead of printed handouts to reduce paper usage.

  • Encourage use of electronic presentations and distributing disk handouts to eliminate paper waste.

  • Create a webpage with all the necessary information about the meeting and destination to potential attendees that allows them to register via e-mail or on-line.

  • Post minutes or other handouts on the ISSP website, and circulate the portal link electronically after the meeting.


We would like to thank these ISSP members for their help in creating our Sustainable Event Policy: Lindsay Arell, Sustainable Programs Manager of the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado, and Yoca Arditi-Rocha, Director of No Planeta B in Lima, Peru.