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Green Clauses: Don’t Forget the Remedy

Contract clauses that spell out a venue's sustainability responsibilities aren't effective without consequences for non-performance.

Achieving event sustainability goals isn’t entirely in the hands of the event planner. It’s typically the venue that recycles waste, sources the F&B, handles food donations, and monitors the building’s heating, cooling, and lighting systems.

If you have certain sustainability standards you expect the hotel or convention center to meet, it’s not enough to shake hands on it. Your contract needs to be specific, says Joshua L. Grimes, Esq. of Grimes Law Offices, LLC, including clear expectations, a means of verification, and a remedy.

If sustainability is important to a group, the organizers “should put in the contract, and have a means of verifying that it’s done,” says Grimes. For example, he says, verification could mean that the venue supplies documentation that it purchased food from sustainable growers, separated and recycled waste, or used electricity from a clean-energy supplier.

“The wrinkle,” says Grimes, is that there should be a remedy in the contract if the venue fails to meet the contracted goals, and that’s the part that’s often missing. To give a “green clause” some teeth, Grimes offers three ideas for counteractions to build into the contract if a facility doesn’t do what it says it will do:

• Have the venue agree to purchase carbon offsets of a certain dollar amount.

• Have the venue agree to meet the sustainability goal they missed for your organization for another group of comparable size they’ll be hosting in next three or four months and provide you with documentation.

• Establish a monetary remedy where, instead of the venue giving the group the money, it donates to a sustainability-focused organization of the group’s choosing.

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